ON THE RADAR: Harvard Piano Society

Harvard Piano Society Presents The Spring Concert

Saturday, March 19. 7 p.m. Lowell Lecture Hall. Free.

Piano-playing is easily one of the most common clichés of Harvard students. We are often envisioned as those kids whose parents insisted on post-natal lessons, who locked us up with the 88 keys and casually dropped upcoming recitals to friends in the grocery store.

Well, we can’t all play piano, but some of us can, and some of us play very well. The Harvard Piano Society is a forum for such students to get together and play. Co-President Andrew D. Sternlight ’06 notes the difficulty for maestros looking for an audience. “Beyond the handful of student concerto competitions and the annual Arts First weekend, the repertory of solo performances is unjustifiably limited, especially in contrast to the wide gamut and high frequency of orchestral and a cappella concerts on campus. With this challenge in mind, the Piano Society assumes the role of an organizing committee for student music, coordinating recitals in the upper-class houses that present musicians of many persuasions, although mostly pianists.”

HPS is an organization with over 300 members, a testament that the cliché may not be far from the truth. The Society links up students with teachers, enjoys social outings, and also works for a good cause, working with youth musicians and donating CD and concert proceeds to charity. Throughout the school year, the Society brings famed pianists to Harvard to critique the performances being polished for concert, and this year’s visits included Maestro Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Maestro Robert Spano from the Atlanta Symphony.

The program they have prepared for Saturday’s concert will feature a program that Sternlight describes as “very challenging solo piano works,” with Chopin’s Premiere Ballade, Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz, and Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op. 23, No. 5 in G Minor. Most of the performers, in addition to their undergraduate curriculum, study music extra-curricularly with teachers from the Longy School and New England Conservatory. Original student compositions will additionally make up some of the program, including a new piece entitled Sonatina by Derrick L. Wang ’06. Harvard’s stereotype suggests brick buildings completely packed with piano prodigies, and while this might not be exactly the case, for one night most of them will be performing in one room.

—Christopher A. Kukstis