The lights dimmed and conversations halted as Genevieve Feiwen Lee took center stage at the Bridges Hall of Music at Pomona College for her “Keyboard Delights” concert on Saturday evening.
Lee began the concert by performing the Sixth Prelude from “L’Art de toucher le Clavecin” and Huitieme Ordre in B from “Pièces de Clavecin,” both by François Couperin, on the harpsichord.
“A lot of people ask me why I play François’ pieces so often when there are numerous harpsichord composers to choose from,” Lee said.
“But I love playing his music because his pieces have a lot of texture and ornamentation.”
As soon as Lee sat at the harpsichord, she demonstrated perfect posture.
Her body remained objective while her fingers sat lightly on the keys, which foreshadowed that the night would be exceptional.
The audience remained entranced after she finished the first piece and went on to play the next one, Aaron Copland’s “Piano Variations.”
Before intermission, Lee played the world premiere of Pomona College music professor Karl Kohn’s piece “Five Reactions.”
Kohn said that he was inspired to write the piece after he heard a car make a “fanfare-like” sound in a parking garage. The rest of the piece is a response to the initial horn he heard.
As soon as Lee’s fingers touched the keys, the piano animated to life.
Her fingers danced up and down with the octaves, then abruptly struck into staccatos.
“When (Lee) plays, she is very powerful and emotional,” said Mary Martinez, a concert attendee.
“It’s amazing how she transitions so quickly from playing gently to striking the keys. I’ve never heard anyone play like that.”
“(Lee’s) performance was amazing.” said Paul Koenig, Kohn’s former student.
“Her abilities demonstrated Kohn’s structure, which I’ve never heard before.”
Lee ended the night by playing Beethoven’s “Sonata in A-flat Major.”
She said she chose to play this piece because Beethoven is a universal composer and everyone can relate to his work at some point in their life.
After she addressed the audience, Lee took her seat at the piano and resumed playing.
Her energy filled the air as she began playing Beethoven’s composition.
Her body swayed back and forth as she became encompassed by the melody that was humming from the piano.
Several audience members were also immersed in the music as they swayed back and forth to the music with their eyes closed.
Lee has been performing for many years and has perfected her technique.
She made her professional debut at the age of 12 when she performed with the York Symphony.
Lee has since played the piano, harpsichord, toy piano and keyboard for live audiences in the North America, Europe and China.
She has performed with several chamber music groups throughout the Los Angeles area.
She is also a founding member of the Mojave Trio, a classical trio that plays a wide variety of music from the 18th and 19th centuries to more contemporary works.
Lee graduated and received music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, École Normale de Musique de Paris and the Yale School of Music.
She taught at Yale, Bucknell University, the Crane School of Music and Pomona College.
Liz Ortiz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.