Fall, 2013 Recital Highlights and Review

A Philly Music Lessons Recital Review

So it came again, the time of year for a Philly Music Lessons recital.  Last year, we were pleased to present, to our students and community, the very first Philly Music Lessons recital. The performance took place at the Ukranian League, situated in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.  Rookies from all across Philadelphia and the surrounding areas tested their live chops on guitar, piano, vocals, and drums for the very first time that night.

This year, with even more bourgeoning musicians in the lineup, we were able to showcase our students’ talents, backed by the impeccable acoustics of the Church of the Holy Trinity just off of Rittenhouse Square.  The ornate dome of the church, which arched high above the grand piano and musicians, opened up into a wide vault.  Here, in the sanctuary of the church, parents and friends watched eclectic performances: Blue Monk arrangements on piano, an epic jazz guitar improvisation (one of the many teacher-student duets), and a crooning electric guitar solo that reverberated Metallica into the vaults.

First up to perform was Ian McGrath.  He had a great sense for the tune, and was able to interpret on the spot like a true jazz pianist.  Bravo, Ian!  It’s not every day that young students decide they want to take on the challenge of learning jazz improvisation!  What better city to explore this musical genre than in Philadelphia.

Next to stage was Addie Dash.  Addie is a relatively new student with Philly Music Lessons, yet she wowed the audience with her delicate and soulful, finger-plucked rendition of “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.  While her guitar instructor strummed along, Addie confidently navigated the frets and strings while she played the melody beautifully.  Not bad for a 6 year old!

Following Addie was her sister, Hayden Dash.   She offered an energetic piano performance of Do-Re-Mi, from the Sound of Music.  Hayden kept great rhythm in both hands, hitting chords in her left, and playing the classic melody in her right.

Philip Dilgard Clark returned again this year to show us his continuing progress.  Philip began guitar with us when he was just 4 years old, and has already started to cultivate some serious guitar skills!  He confidently strummed the chords of “Sweet Caroline”, by Neil Diamond, and rocked out into a fun, finger-plucked melody of “Old McDonald”.  We loved this song pair and Philip’s emerging style.

Noah Williams changed the tone, and sat cooly in his chair to transport us all into the heavy metal era of the 90s.  The combination of the pristine acoustics with the grunge electric guitar sound was, well, awesome!  Noah’s choice to cover Metallica was a welcomed modern performance.

Continuing with the pop theme, Jack Hirsh played piano, performing “Paradise”, by Coldplay.  He played his chord-melody arrangement of the song smoothly and comfortably, all while sporting his winter hat!

Alana Gardner sang and played “Skinny Love” by Bon Hiver. Though not an easy song to cover, Alana nailed this emotive tune, backing her own vocals on piano. The natural acoustics in the room accentuated her mature and soulful voice.  With new-found piano chops, Alana was able to support her moving solo performance. It has been great for us to see someone who has been dedicated to vocal training expand their repertoire by learning piano.

Getting back to guitar, Henry Corkran played “Wish You Were Here”, by Pink Floyd.  He not only perfected the rhythm guitar part, but played the entire guitar solo note for note.  David Gilmour would have been proud!

Alexis Santos came to stage, giving us another solo performance, with vocals backed by her own piano playing.   Singing a song by pop star Bruno Mars, Alexis belted out a heart-felt performance of “When I Was Your Man”.

After Alexis’s beautiful performance, Zoe Hasset stepped confidently to the piano, playing the Disney classic, “I Just Can’t Wait to be King”.  One of Philly Music Lessons youngest students, Zoe showed much promise with this well-played chord melody.

Zach Hasset, sibling of Zoe Hasset, also played a piano piece.  His was a bluesy take on “This Old Man”.  After playing the melody, Zach launched into a blues improvisation that would have made Wynton Kelly proud.

Presenting to us the first original composition of the night, Tegan Gibson-Lewis delighted us with her song, “Watch Me Burn”.   Tegan wrote the lyrics and melody, and an arrangement for piano, all of which she performed solo.

Up next was one of our most seasoned musicians, Derek Mansen.  Derek is an advanced student working towards increasing his understanding of music theory and jazz.  He performed a deuling electric guitar duet with his teacher, Joseph Primavera.   Derek showed off some real fancy jazz inversions on the fret board, over an arrangement of “Straight, No Chaser”, by Thelonious Monk.  Their differing jazz styles were a great blend, with a bi-bop vibe from Derek, and a smooth milky tone from Joseph Primavera.

Bianca DiMaio then played a piano piece by Ludovico Einaudi, called  “I Giorni”. She performed this 6 minute piece flawlessly from beginning to end.  It evoked emotions worthy of a movie soundtrack.

Closing the show, Vince Guglielmello played a beautiful chord melody version of “Yesterday”, by the Beatles. Because of it’s unforgettable melody, this classic song works in so many ways, and Vince brought it to life on solo acoustic guitar.

We couldn’t have asked for a more high-quality performance venue.  With the Curtis Institute, the Kimmel Center, and the Merion Theater just a few blocks away, we were overjoyed to be able to bring the families and friends of our students into such a culture rich neighborhood.  The recital was truly our pleasure, and we thank all who attended for their positive support.

Join us this spring for what we hope to be an even larger group, with more diverse performances and more opportunity for students to test their skills and explore the art of live music.

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