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Mei Duo honors Boston composer

Rachel V. Huang plays during the Friday Noon Concert series at Scripps College April 19. Huang played Amy Beach’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in A minor, Op. 34. The concerts are every Friday at 12:15 p.m. in Balch Auditorium. / photo by Stephanie Ball

Rachel V. Huang plays during the Friday Noon Concert series at Scripps College April 19. Huang played Amy Beach’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in A minor, Op. 34. The concerts are every Friday at 12:15 p.m. in Balch Auditorium. / photo by Stephanie Ball

Monica Dien
Staff Writer

The sweet sound of the violin accompanied by the piano came together as the Mei Duo performed their rendition of Amy Beach’s work at Scripps College last Friday.

Hao Huang, pianist and professor of music at Scripps College, shed light on Beach’s background as a Boston native and commemorated the recent Boston marathon bombings before the performance.

“(Amy Beach) is a life long Bostonian and we would like to think of Boston right now who have experienced meaningless violence,” Huang said.

The Mei Duo, consisting of Huang on piano and his wife Rachel Huang, adjunct professor of Music at Scripps College on violin, performed Beach’s Sonata for violin and piano in A minor.

The Sonata began its first movement with sweet chords that filled the auditorium before transitioning to its folk-like second movement.

The third movement, Largo con dolore, featured an expressive style, before ending with a grand finale of Allegro con fuoco.

Rachel Huang said Beach’s style was “often criticized because people found her pieces over done” but the performance was filled with intense feelings and emotions in respect to the recent bombings.

“If you play her entire work there is so much to them,” Rachel Huang said.

“Her music gives lots of room to contextualize everything.”

Jonathan Wright, audience member and associate professor of biology at Pomona College, enjoyed the performance.

“(Rachel) is a terrific player,” Wright said.

“The piece was beautifully executed with a very organic feel which is very challenging,” he said.

“(The Mei Duo) performed it with a beautiful quality to their interpretation with a very intimate feel.”

Rachel Huang is a classical violinist who has also been honored by both the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Huang felt the piece was also appropriate in paying homage to female composers who are still struggling to gain representation in the classical world.

“(The Sonata) is just so beautiful and its a magnificent piece written by a woman from a time when there were actually people who believed that it wasn’t possible for woman to do that,” she said.

“It just feels like a wonderful affirmation to be here and playing her piece,” she said.

The Mei Duo was brought together by the Huangs when they first began performing together.

The word Mei is part of the Chinese word for America and ‘Mei Duo’ has the connotation of being American and beautiful, according to Rachel Huang.

The two eventually coined the name Mei Duo with its final meaning of beautiful land.

After 18 years, the Mei Duo came back on stage to perform the piece again in nearly two decades on Scripps College.

“Its a very special experience (to play on the stage again) to be able to encapsulate your own history and your history of the location,” Rachel Huang said.

“Our sons have grown up in the meantime and we are so grateful for the people who have come here to hear us,” Rachel Huang said.

“In the meantime, it really feels like a privilege to get to do that again.”

Monica Dien can be reached at monica.dien@laverne.edu.

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