Posts Tagged ‘NY Philharmonic oboe principal’

Redlands Concert Reunites Oboe Teacher & Student

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

(from L) Nelms McKelvain, Liang Wang, Carolyn Beck and Sara Andon. Photo Peter Askim.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For most music students, saying good-bye to a beloved teacher is painful, and starting over with another can be scary.

“I’ve had the same oboe teacher since I was 10 years old,” exclaimed Camille, who is graduating from Idyllwild Arts this year.

She was talking about Francisco Castillo, principal oboist for the Redlands Symphony. He’s the same oboe instructor as the popular Liang Wang, principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic.

Francisco was Liang’s first oboe instructor in the U.S. Last Saturday, April 14, Liang came for Francisco’s World Premier of his recent composition, “Rhapsody for Oboe, English Horn & Orchestra.”

“There’s Francisco, the big guy,” exclaimed Shen, a clarinet player from Idyllwild Arts, who attended the concert with music director Peter Askim and five other students, including Henry, Yoana, Elena, Suriah and Cynthia.

Francisco remained in touch with Liang, who graduated from Idyllwild Arts and the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia. In January, Liang visited Idyllwild Arts, taught Master Classes and played with the student orchestra (see blog post, “NY Phil Oboist Makes Idyllwild Arts Proud,” dated Dec. 9, 2011).

“Liang has brought such prestige to our instrument,” Camille said.

Dr. Nelms McKelvain, piano instructor at Idyllwild Arts, drove down from Idyllwild to see Liang in concert.

“Liang was my advisee when he was here,” said Nelms. “I’d go a long way to see him.”

For the Saturday night concert, the students sat in the balcony in the Redlands Memorial Chapel, yet had a full view of the stage. Some of those around them had binoculars so they could see the performer’s faces.

(from L) Idyllwild Arts Supporters: Henry, Shen, Elena, Yoana, Cynthia, Suriah, Carolyn, Sara, William & Peter

After the Redlands Symphony warmed up with “Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Liang played “Oboe Concerto,” by Richard Strauss.

“Liang’s phrasing is so unique,” said Peter Askim, afterwards. “He phrases like a singer — so natural and pure. He never plays anything the same way twice. It’s like he’s discovering the piece for the first time – every time.””

During the first two songs, Co Boi Nguyen, the assistant conductor, led the orchestra. According to the program notes, Co Boi is an assistant professor of music at the University of Redlands School of Music, and she usually conducts at least one program during the regular symphony season.

After intermission, conductor Jon Robertson took over for the World Premier of Francisco’s work, “Rhapsody for Oboe, English Horn and Orchestra.” Liang and Francisco took the stage to great applause. Liang was playing his oboe, while Francisco had a much longer oboe with a lower sound, which is the English horn.

The two played well together, like father and son, carefully not upstaging each other. The piece was lively, and even frenetic at times, but was well liked by the audience. Both Liang and Francisco received a large bouquet of flowers afterwards.

According to the program, Francisco said his rhapsody came about in a funny way. While he was talking with Liang about what pieces he would play with the Redlands Symphony, Liang suggested that they play something together.

(from L) Carolyn, Francisco, Liang, Sara and Peter. Photo Peter Askim.

“I jokingly said that I didn’t want to play an Albinoni or Vivaldi concerto, and would prefer something more interesting and new,” Francisco recalled.

“Well, then, write something yourself!” Liang replied.

For inspiration, Francisco listened to oboe concertos by Mozart, Strauss, Pasculli and Piazzola. He also listened to favorite composers, Bach, Villa-Lobos, Charles Ives and Louis Armstrong, among others. In the end, Francisco turned to his oboe, English horn and computer to make something uniquely his own.

“As you listen, you will find some of my favorite musical ideas, including Polyrhythm, Latin folk melodies, simple harmonies, virtuosic, demanding, yet sustained lyrical passages, silly moments are at the same time dramatic and tense,” Francisco wrote in the program.

“However, if you are looking for a form, you won’t find it,” Francisco added.

“I really liked Francisco’s piece,” said Shen. “It wasn’t boring like the Hayden piece” (“Symphony No. 104 London” ended the evening.)

Camille, who was away at college auditions on Sunday, had heard a rehearsal of Francisco’s piece.

“It’s New Music, and it had a very Latin feel to it,” Camille said.

After the Redlands concert, the students and Peter went to the stage to meet and congratulate the performers.

(from L) Yoana and Elena, students from Bulgaria, enjoy a pre-concert dinner. Photo Peter Askim.

According to Peter, several principals from the Redlands Symphony have also taught music at Idyllwild Arts, including Todor Pelev, associate concertmaster/violin; Gail Cruz, violin; Carolyn Beck, principal bassoon; Sara Andon, principal flute; David Scott, principal trumpet and William Schlitt, principal timpani.

Francisco, who dedicated his rhapsody to Liang Wang, conductor Jon Robertson and the Redlands Symphony, was all smiles afterwards.

“This was the first time it was played before a live audience,” Francisco said. “It’s a good feeling.”

In other news, get your tickets now for the New Music Concerts featuring new works by Richard Thompson, Chen Yi and Peter Askim with the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra on Saturday, April 28 at the IAF Theatre (free) on campus, and on Sunday, April 29 at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Los Angeles. Pre-concert general admission tickets for the Sunday show are $10 to $20 and are available on the Idyllwild Arts web site at www.idyllwildarts.org. Click on ‘Academy,’ then ‘Music’ and ‘New Music Concert.’

For more information, see Idyllwild Me blog post, “New Music: Dramatic Shift for Students” dated April 9.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.


 

 

 

NY Phil Oboist Makes Idyllwild Arts Proud

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Liang Wang, principal oboist for the NY Philharmonic, is an Idyllwild Arts alum. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

One of Idyllwild Arts’ own came back last week not only to perform, but to spread good cheer. Liang Wang, principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic, is living proof that an Idyllwild Arts high school education is key to acceptance in top schools that can eventually lead to a promising career.

At age 26, Liang is the youngest principal oboist in the history of the New York Philharmonic. He’s kept that slot since 2006, and you can bet he didn’t get it on his good looks alone. After four years of studying oboe at Idyllwild Arts, Liang was accepted to the coveted Curtis Institute of Music, where he won fellowships, grants and awards. Later on, he played for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony and worked his way up to the NY Philharmonic post.

“Liang gets to tell the other oboists what to do, and he’s much younger than all of them!” exclaimed Howard, a sophomore violist from Taiwan now studying at Idyllwild Arts.

Liang spoke to the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra after a rehearsal last week. He was candid about his time at the academy, including some mistakes he made (such as getting caught after curfew in the girls’ dorm). Most importantly, Liang offered the students some good advice.

“He said that he doesn’t get nervous onstage because he won some competitions, so he’s earned the right to be there,” said Tiffany, a senior who plays cello. “He looks so relaxed.”

Some of Liang’s achievements included a fellowship position at the Aspen Music Festival. He also was a second prize winner at the 2003 Fernard Gillet International Oboe Competition and a prizewinner at the 2002 Tilden Prize Competition.

Tiffany also said that besides thinking positively, Liang advised them to come to all of their performances prepared. And that means hours of practice.

“When you know your work, you’ll be confident in your playing,” Liang told them.

During his Dec. 3 and 4 concerts at Idyllwild Arts Academy, Liang performed Mozart’s “Concerto Oboe in C Major, K 314 (25d).” Advance press in the Idyllwild Town Crier, the Press-Enterprise, and the Idyllwild Herald, brought large crowds during both performances. The Sunday, Dec. 4 afternoon concert was standing room only.

(from L) Camille (with Mariya, an IA alum) was enthusiastic about Liang Wang's master class and the importance he's brought to the oboe.

The oboe concerto was lively, and Liang played most of the time, even to the point of flush in his cheeks. According to the program notes, the Mozart Oboe Concerto in C was composed in the summer of 1977, but the manuscript was lost until 1920. It had a striking resemblance to a flute concerto of Mozart’s. Finally published in 1948, it remains the least-known of Mozart’s entire concerto output.

The notes stated that the Oboe Concerto was rather French in style with cheerful outer movements.

In fact, Liang looked rather French and lively onstage, lifting his oboe like a horn to give the audience its full sound. He was also keen on taking cues from Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts’ music director. No prima dona he! You could tell that he knew that the fine performance was a group effort.

“I’m in love with him!” exclaimed Camille, an oboist and senior at Idyllwild Arts. “He brought such notoriety to our instrument!”

Camille was among those who got to attend Liang’s master class that weekend. She said that Liang gave her lots of good input about her playing, which comes at the perfect time when she’s applying to colleges.

He even agreed to give Camille a lesson when she visits the Manhattan School of Music over winter break. He is currently on the faculty there.

Ryan Zwahlen, head of the Music Department at Idyllwild Arts who also plays the oboe, was instrumental in securing Liang’s performance at the school.

“He gets great reviews on his sound and control,” Ryan said. “Having him perform with our students will show them what hard work could get them in the future. It’s also a great recruitment thing for the school helping us to raise our profile.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 9, 2011 @ 11:57