Culver City Observer -

What Would You Ask Mozart's Mother?

 


If you could talk to Mozart's mother, what would you ask? I found myself sitting next to the mother of a young soloist at a concert Saturday night by the Culver City Symphony Orchestra. I hadn't realized yet how special the young musician was.

Then Tristan Paradee, the soloist, sat next to me when his mother changed seats.

So you're sitting next to a young person about to give a solo piano performance. What would you ask?

"Are you nervous before the concert?" I asked.

"I do get nervous but it does you no good."

Fair enough answer. Then he added:

"It's a lie. When you're afraid, all you're focused on is fear. You can't focus on the heart of the music you're making.

The most important thing in music is feeling the music; if I were not feeling the music, it's as if I'm not playing the piano."

I hardly expected his next answer.

"How do other students treat you, knowing you're a soloist with orchestras?"

"Whenever anyone is being selfish or mean to me, I think to myself, 'they're being ridiculous. What a silly thing to get upset over.'

When people are mean, I always think, 'Why?' I wouldn't when I'm upset with myself or toward others..."

"What does that mean?"

"It means I'm being upset with an illusion of how things should go. When I'm selfish myself, I realize the other person might be thinking I'm being ridiculous

I know what it's like to be angry and sad. Everyone is a kind, beautiful person. When they go through hard times, it's hurting them a bunch. They become selfish and mean and aggressive toward other people, and they don't know how much they're hurting the other person."

"Do you have brothers or sisters?"

"My sister is a cat."

"What I've realized is everyone is to be loved and forgiven. And just to enjoy your life, and just not worry about what people think."

I felt I was talking with Yoda. I had to remind myself I was talking with a 15-year old. I was stunned by Tristan's wisdom..

When Tristan went backstage I had a chance to talk with his mother again.

"When do you know that your child has this ability? How did you find out?" I asked her.

"He was playing basketball when he was nine. He was given an unusual instrument, one that came with complicated directions to be able to even use it. The next day, Tristan was playing music on it without any help.

"I told my own piano teacher, who agreed to listen to him, and did. She said he was "seriously gifted." We thought he should not play basketball then, to protect his hands."

His concert with the Culver City Symphony Orchestra was Tristan's seventh orchestra concert. I asked his mother what he was like at home.

"His heart is made out of pure gold."

* * *

"On the checklist of benefits to Culver City would be this orchestra."

Matthew Hetz, Executive Director/ President, was introducing the concert. "It's like going camping: we come in with a rented piano; we rent the hall and the music." When you're in the audience, do you ever think of the set-up or the cost?

The concert started with The Star Spangled Banner. Audience, standing and singing, with hands over hearts, clapping. I was touched.

You immediately recognize The Ritual Fire Dance by Manuel de Falla. Chromatic start, like a bumble bee and typically Spanish, like it's composer - and loud. Nice piano playing by the versatile conductor, Frank Fetta.

The night showcased young winners of the highly competitive Parness Concerto Competition. Hweyon Chang, 23, who's already performed at Carnegie Hall, played Beethoven's Piano Concerto, No. 4, Opus 58, G Major, 1st Movement. A high heel on the piano pedal, elegant in a long black halter dress, Ms. Chang rocked it. A polished, passionate performance, it was such a relief after the bawdy de Falla. I let Beethoven wash over me; it was relaxing.

Caroline Ho played solo piano in Beethoven's Piano Concerto, No. 5, Opus 73, E-flat Major, 1st Movement. She's in the 11th grade at Santa Monica High School. This is a down-home orchestra; when the seat was high, the conductor, the executive director and the stage manager all helped. Frank Fetta quipped, "Beethoven had these problems too." Ms. Ho's also a composer; her work recently debuted at a Tuscany festival. She played gracefully and beautifully. It was Beethoven's last piano concerto, ending in a gleeful chat between piano and orchestra.

It was fun watching Tristan Paradee play Schumann's Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 54, 1st Movement. He walked in so smiling and happy. From the first power notes, his physicality was striking; now he's sitting upright in a final flourish, then he's crouching over the keys as though minutely examining a precious diamond. His strong playing showed more than grace and passion; it was thoughtful and intelligent, highlighting the orchestra's muscle.

"Is there talent in Culver City?" asked Frank Fetti? "If you come to our concerts, you'll find out."

This orchestra can play soft as well as bold, showing both in Dvořák's Czech Suite. The opening, called "Pastorale," was indeed pastoral; it made me picture a greenery-filled country morning, sun streaming. Then it was bagpipes in the second movement, or that sound. Lovely violin playing; compliments to Nancy Roth, Concertmaster.

The third movement, a Bohemian version of the waltz, made me remember long drives in the Austrian countryside outside Vienna driving to a Bavarian wine garden. The violins and cellos were like partners in a delightful dance, followed by the fourth movement's Czech folk songs, soft and sweet. The last movement was feisty and ardent. Cold Scandinavian music this was not. It was more like frolicking outside Mad Ludwig's Castle in Bavaria, with music like an old friend, lyrical and comfortable.

This orchestra is worthy of your support. It's definitely worth going to take a peek at Culver City's local orchestra.

(next concert: June 18).

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©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.

You can write to her at: smartspicy1@gmail.com

 

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