William & Mary

Klein shows W&M students keys to piano mastery

  • Master class
    Master class  Wenhao Yang '17 (seated on stage) participates in a piano master class with Andreas Klein (standing) in Ewell Recital Hall.  Courtesy photo
  • Master class
    Master class  Sarah Fredrick '16 (seated) listens to Andreas Klein during the master class.  Courtesy photo
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The sounds of Debussy, Beethoven and Chopin filled the Ewell Recital Hall recently as four students — three from William & Mary — came together for a piano master class taught by German pianist  Andreas Klein.

The Feb. 11 class was part of the Ewell Concert Series, hosted by the William & Mary Department of Music. Each year, the department sponsors a number of musical performances that range from the classical to the modern and feature musicians from around the globe.

{{youtube:medium:left|OOihMb59Y7Q, Master class with Andreas Klein}}

"The Ewell Concert Series is now the only concert series coming out of William & Mary," said Judith Zwelling, manager of the series. "The Department of Music is its ‘home.’ There are six-eight concerts [per] year and most events are free to the public; usually two per season have a very small admission fee, far less expensive than most concerts of this quality."

Klein has had a distinguished career as an orchestra soloist and recitalist. He has performed in some of the world's most prestigious venues from London's Wigmore Hall to the Kennedy Center.

Cited in the New York Times as "a fascinating artist with all the indispensable qualities: temperament, taste, touch, tone, the four Ts of pianism....[Klein] makes silences sound like music."

"The instructors at William & Mary are top shelf teachers and performers," said Eric Lyttle, instructor of piano, jazz musicianship and ear-training. "But when students get the opportunity to receive coaching from a world-renowned pianist such as Mr. Klein, it gives them a level of expertise that is invaluable. This experience, whether negative or positive, has a profound effect to the students that aspire to the highest level."

Having learned of the opportunity in fall 2015 through a department email, Lyttle originally didn't think he would submit a student for the opportunity. His mind changed, however, after seeing how quickly one of his advanced piano students, Wenhao Yang '17, picked up various pieces.

"She showed a lot of talent right away," said Lyttle. "So I asked her if she would want to do this, and she said she would."

Upon reflection of the various pieces Yang had in her repertoire, Lyttle worked with Yang on a Debussy piece called “Arabesque No. 1.”

"I started playing when I was 4," said Yang. "But I've been on and off for some time. [This] was a great opportunity to perform on stage and also challenge myself."

Due to the open setting of the master class, faculty, parents and members of the Williamsburg community had the opportunity to hear the instruction Klein gave to Wenhao as well as Hope Wright '18, Sarah Fredrick '16 and high school student Bryce Cuthriell.

Like Yang, Wright has been playing piano since she was very young following in the footsteps of her three older brothers, all of which play an instrument. For her performance she played Debussy's “Passepied.”

"The piece of advice that will stick with me the most is the concept of telling a story while you play," said Wright. "Starting with an image in your head and the perfect sound you want to evoke is incredibly important and I will focus on that from now on."

Other insights Klein discussed with students included understanding the intent of the composer through performance marks — words  that indicate tempo such as allegro, Italian for "lively" — as well as saving the climax of the piece for a key moment.

In addition to the master class, Klein performed at the Ewell Recital Hall on Feb. 12, playing selections from Beethoven, Schumann, Ginastera and Prokofiev.