IYCA Piano Series


I grew up playing the piano – the violin and viola came much later. It was my first instrument and the instrument I remembering hearing my mother playing and teaching from. I learned my theory on the piano, as well as my sense of pitc and rhythm.  For many of us who are string and wind players, our first instrument was the piano. As a young child, my earliest musical memories were listening to the complete Mozart piano concerti with Clara Haskil, works which my dad absolutely adored and which I’ve grown to love myself, even to this day. Those concerti were among my earliest exposure to the sounds of Mozart!

Throughout the years, I’ve had rare opportunities to play as either Concertmaster, Assistant Concertmaster, or section violinist to wonderful pianists in various festivals, youth, and professional orchestras. This interaction offered me a glimpse of the piano world, which is much more than just the solo works. The more opportunities I had to work with pianists, I began to understand why many of the world’s greatest conductors were themselves conductors! It was during those years that I realized that many pianists have a very sensitive ear to style, ensemble, and balance.

As a musician, what frustrates and worries me most is this idea of “opportunities.” I often catch myself asking whether we are all performing enough, growing wiser, and learning from each other. This is most important for any human being and musician. It isn’t easy to be the consummate artist. One must be constantly immersed in an engaging musical dialogue with themselves, their instrument, the music, and other musicians. For professionals who are members of a well-funded orchestra, they are lucky because they have the repertoire each week to enrich their musical needs. But my worry is for the young musicians who are still learning their craft, and learning to balance this devotion with their studies at school.

So my concern is that most of us, students and professionals, are not performing enough. It is a major concern, one which led me to constantly think of new ways to create concerts and engage both students, parents, and the audience.

As the Executive Director of  the Irvine Young Concert Artists, it was always my goal to offer an opportunity rich environment to young musicians who had a desire to perform. If encouraged properly and at an early enough age, the young musicians would truly grow into young artists.

Many youth, school, and honors orchestras are not doing enough to stimulate music into our blood. For example, most youth orchestras only offer only four or five concerts a year, with one featured soloist. IYCA offers each season twenty or thirty, with twenty-plus soloists. But was this enough? Can we do more? What about the wind players and pianists who are neglected? Would a musician in today’s age need to create those opportunities themselves or should they focus on their playing first and foremost?

I have some answers.

In years past, I have attended many concerts throughout LA and Orange County only to see more of the same: competitions which generated a ‘winner’ and that winner had one solo opportunity. But what intrigued and bothered me was that it was usually the string players winning these competitions. Where were the wind players and the pianists? Certainly, I think they are every bit as good as a cellist or violinists, but where were they? Where could I hear the Mozart Clarinet or Flute Concerti? Or Mozart’s Oboe concerto? When would they get their chance, their opportunity? All this led to even more questions!

What would happen after every concert concluded – would there be more concerts featuring these fine pianists, particularly the ones without management? Would they have a chance to perform again with orchestra?

In 2009-2010, IYCA will instigate it’s “Emerging Artists Series” which will embrace the piano world. Its purpose is to offer solo opportunities to guest pianists – both students and professionals – featuring them in concert and in the recording studio alongside IYCA musicians.

We will focus on the repertoire most dear to me – those written by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, and Bach. For me, this is repertoire important for any artist and is super important for a young artist. The goals are to perform and record a number of the Beethoven and Mozart piano concerti.

It is my wish to see young musicians begin their musical journey in the classics. This is where I began learning my first major concerti on violin. It is in Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven that I have focused IYCA’s core repertoire since it’s inception. It is in these composers where we aim to learn about sound, ensemble, style, and balance.

There is a wealth of concerti here which is hardly performed and should be! Furthermore, at the core of many of these great works by Mozart and Beethoven is the one thing which young musicians must learn – chamber music. In Mozart’s time, the orchestras were all chamber orchestras. They accompanied him in his piano concerti. This is a great tradition which we should put into practice — true conductorless playing…true chamber music! Many of the music festivals and top orchestras in Europe still perform conductorless.

In 2009, IYCA will tackle the piano concerti which is hardly performed in the United States. It will host an “Emerging Artists Series in Piano” which isn’t a competition but rather a showcase concert. Interested individuals can send recordings of their playing to IYCA for submission. No videos. Information for this will be posted online shortly.

Since the birth of IYCA in 2004, it has been my wish and desire to feature pianists in our programs – to create a musical bridge between the orchestral and the piano worlds. I wish to recreate many of the touching memories and experiences from my years past.

No youth or professional orchestra in Orange County has taken time to embrace the piano world. They should, and it’s about time! Sad to say, piano competitions are isolated events which have yet to connect qualified pianists to qualified orchestras. While a number of community and professional orchestras have featured pianists in concert, most only feature one or two pianists the entire year. With youth orchestras, this is certainly non-existant. In fact, most piano teachers can agree that the opportunity to perform solo with a youth orchestra – let alone record with one! – is very rare.

In 2009-10, IYCA hopes to feature a large number of qualified pianists in concert and in the recording studio. Information will be posted on the requirements.

A recording which features one complete movement of a concerto written by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Only solo piano. Do not record an additional piano accompaniment. If chosen, what you have recorded will be the work you will perform with IYCA.

Winner perform only one movement of a concerto.

Application fees are: $40.
Checks must be made out to: IYCA.
IYCA is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization.

There is no cash prize. The prize is in two parts.

Part One.
All winners chosen will be featured in a showcase concert. The date of this concert will be announced on our website.

Part Two.
A select few will also be featured in a recording by Alan Audio Works (www.alanaudioworks.com).

A schedule of the recording schedule will be sent after winners are chosen. Those chosen must be adhere to the set schedule and guidelines of the recording session. There will be additional recording fees and costs for the studio sessions, should you be chosen.

Winners chosen must pay for their own transportation (flights) and hotel fees to Irvine. IYCA is not responsible for transportation costs.

For those interested in making a professional recording with IYCA and who were not selected as prizewinners in our competition , please send an email to albertwutheviolinist@hotmail.com in regards to this. We will send you the fees for a recording project with Alan Audio Works (www.alanaudioworks.com).


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