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Old First's SOTA Concert

On January 22, 2016, the SOTA Instrumental and Piano departments presented a collaborated concert featuring chamber music pieces, solos, piano duets, and instrumental pieces. Led by Orchestra conductor Tristan Arnold and piano head Ava Soifer, this concert filled the audience member with musical joy.

Being held at Old First's Presbyterian Church, the concert had a luscious sound thanks to the wonderful acoustics in the hall. The wide variety of pieces performed that evening gave the concert a sense of an adventure through time, from Chopin to Poulenc to Briseño. In addition, the evening included a composition by an aspiring young composer Theo Haber, student (class of 2017) of the SOTA Instrumental Department.

Alice Kubo, a piano senior, opened the concert with her performance of Frédéric Chopin's Scherzo Op. 20, No.1. Her phenomenal technique and emotional presence astounded the excited audience, intriguing them to what was yet to come.

Next, piano junior Shabnam Jafari and piano freshman Mikhael Vtoroshin performed Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 4 in 4 hands. The piece being one of the most commonly performed pieces, it was a true pleasure to hear it performed by piano students. Not only was the ensemble glued together perfectly but the emotional background of the pair matched, making the performance of the two different performers sound as if there was only one soloist performing. This produced an affect of joy upon the listener.

Up next was yet another Brahms piece, this time a horn trio performed by violinist Anju Goto, hornist Ronan Fitzsimons-Brey and pianist Jeffrey Qiu. This piece was performed with lots of vigor and stylistic accuracy, enriching the romantic element of the piece.

Mikhael Vtoroshin and Shabnam Jafari
Next, oboist Morgan Lucero, bassoonist Andre Bartalos, and pianist Mikhael Vtoroshin performed Francois Poulenc's trio. This piece, being quite energetic by nature, was performed very passionately, and the ensemble was well built.

The third and final Brahms piece performed at this concert was Piano Quartet Op.25 performed by violinist Raina Christeson, violist Christine Lee, cellist Anny Kwak, and pianist Ava Soifer. This piece included one more ensemble member than the other pieces and was harder to maintain as an ensemble, but the performers still managed and succeeded at making a very musical performance. This piece opened the second half of the performance and was a great mood setter.

Next was performed Theo Haber's composition String Quartet No. 1, executed by violinists Theo Haber and Anju Goto, violist Christine Lee, and cellist Christine Blair. The piece had its own very specific style and was very interesting to listen to. The piece was featured in a film of one of the SOTA Media students at this year's Media Nite. The quartet that performed the piece is SOTA's very own Dragon Quartet which is frequently featured at various concerts in the Bay Area.

The last two pieces performed were done by the Ruth Asawa String Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Tristan Arnold.

String Quartet in D minor, Op. 810  "Death and the Maiden" was performed first, and this piece had a very specific storyline that could be tracked down during the performance and which made listening to the piece a very personal experience. Maestro Arnold succeeded at keeping the audience within the story which varied from listener to listener.

The last piece performed was El Sinaloense by Severino Briseño, arrangement by Osvaldo Golijov. This piece was an excellent finale to this evening of splendid music performed by young, aspiring musicians.

The String Chamber Orchestra included the following performers:

Violin I:
Anju Goto (concertmaster)
Kana Luzmoor
Charles Thollander
Anna Chen

Violin II:
Raina Christeson
Stephanie Blanco
Theo Haber

Christine Lee
Terra Hurtado
Laila Zaidi

Anny Kwak
Christine Blair
Simone Tatum

Isabel Dobrev
Kai Knorr
Josh Potolo
Wesley Yamanoha


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