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Music professor dazzles audience

Yih-Mei Hu, a visiting professor at Scripps College, performed music of Claude Debussy, George Crumb and Franz Liszt as a part of the Friday Noon Concert series in Balch Auditorium on Feb. 19. Each piece was unique, including Crumb’s “Five Pieces for Piano,” which required not only the playing of the keys but the plucking of the piano strings. / photo by Christopher Guzman

Yih-Mei Hu, a visiting professor at Scripps College, performed music of Claude Debussy, George Crumb and Franz Liszt as a part of the Friday Noon Concert series in Balch Auditorium on Feb. 19. Each piece was unique, including Crumb’s “Five Pieces for Piano,” which required not only the playing of the keys but the plucking of the piano strings. / photo by Christopher Guzman

Carly Hill
News Editor

The audience of 75 was in awe as Yih-Mei Hu performed three pieces for piano as part of the Friday Noon Concert Series, presented by the Departments of Music at Pomona and Scripps Colleges.

The concert was held at Balch Auditorium at Scripps College. The vintage chandeliers on a high ceiling and wood panels lining the walls, set the perfect stage for Hu’s innovative and daring approach to music.

“I thought of the program as integrated pieces. I wanted to show the capabilities of the instrument,” Hu said.

The first piece, entitled “Pour le Piano” by Claude Debussy, was a fan favorite for its graceful movement and pace.

“I really enjoyed the variety in the first piece,” said Rebecca Tinker, senior writing major at Pitzer College. “She’s really poetic when she plays.”

The second piece, “Five Pieces for Piano” by George Crumb, was extremely unique, because of its incorporation of playing off of the wires on the inside of the piano as well as the keys, requiring Hu to move back and forth between standing and sitting.

The music started off dark, with a lot of dissonance, as Hu put all of her effort helping the audience feel the emotion she was conveying.

“I enjoy the Crumb piece,” Hu said. “It’s not done a lot, but has an innovative style. I had to note the pitches inside the piano. However, I personally wish I were taller.”

The final piece Hu played was “Vallee d’Obermann” by Franz Liszt. Before playing, Hu adjusted her piano chair and then dazzled the audience with her ability to change styles.

The piece crescendos and decrescendos effortlessly as Hu moves forward and backwards in her seat. The ending was light and beautiful, with slower tempos and smoother transitions.

As Hu finished, students, faculty, and visitors stood up with applause. Hu smiled and bowed twice.

“She is astonishing. We are so lucky to get to hear her play,” said Connie Layne, resident of Claremont.

Hu, a visiting assistant professor at Scripps College, has been playing the piano for over 25 years. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, she grew up in Seattle and studied in New York. She now teaches music theory and piano at Scripps.

“She performs musical tai-chi. Her body is as busy as her hands,” Layne said.

For more information on the Friday Noon Concert Series, visit www.claremont.edu.

Carly Hill can be reached at carly.hill@laverne.edu.

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