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Schubert concert evokes emotion

Grace Xia Zhao, artist-in-residence, performs with Dennis Trembly, a bass player from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in the “Moment Musical” concert Sunday in Morgan Auditorium. / photo by Keenan Gilson

Grace Xia Zhao, artist-in-residence, performs with Dennis Trembly, a bass player from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in the “Moment Musical” concert Sunday in Morgan Auditorium. / photo by Keenan Gilson

Bernarda Carranza
Staff Writer

The music of Franz Schubert resonated through the walls and doors of Morgan Auditorium in the “Moment Musical” concert held on Feb. 16.

The event, part of the monthly Sundays at the Morgan series, featured five renowned musicians including Grace Zhao, visiting artist and assistant professor of music.

Among the performers were Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians including violinist Robert Vijay Gupta, violist Michael Larco and bassist Dennis Trembly.

Cellist Jacob Braun, also performed.

As the lights dimmed, Zhao walked on stage in a vibrant red dress, which contrasted with the solemn black Steinway & Sons piano she played for the night.

The audience, in utter silence, listened as she hit the first note of Schubert’s “Impromptus D. 899.”

“There are very somber and very divine moments that are also exhilarating,” Zhao said. “My hope is that the audience can feel all these emotions and all these dimensions.”

“I am hoping that I can translate and through me I can influence audiences,” she said.

The auditorium accommodated a range of audience members from children to students, faculty and elderly couples.

Among those in the audience were University President Devorah Lieberman and Felicia Beardsley, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“This sort of thing brings to campus possibilities for our students so they can see the professionals,” Beardsley said.

“These guys are from the L.A. Philharmonic; how often do you get that?” Beardsley said.

“How often do you actually get to talk to them? They demonstrate to our students that this is where you can head, this is your outcome.”

The second piece combined Zhao’s piano and Trembly’s bass.

As both instruments merged to perform Schubert’s “Sonata (Arpeggione),” and Trembly orchestrated his bow with an action similar of an artist with his brush painting on a canvas, the low mumbles of awed children could be heard: “This is awesome.”

“For me, I feel like I am sending the signals to the instrument to do what it can do,” Trembly said. “So the instrument responds in the way that it can.”

“If I send the wrong signals then I don’t get what the instrument is capable of giving,” she said. “You can’t force it. You can’t dominate the instrument, you have to work with it.”

The last piece, “Piano Quintet in A Major” had Zhao’s piano and all the performing strings resonating in the auditorium.

“You start hearing the piano and the strings, and it’s like this conversation that they are having and the integration of all these individuals that just get totally lost in the music and they become the music,” Beardsley said.

After receiving a standing ovation as the five musicians hit the last note, audience members waited to talk to the performers.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians signed autographs and chatted with the public after the concert.

“Coming to events like this makes me appreciate those who practice music,” said Nathan Silero, sophomore political science major.

“I tend to be a pragmatic person, but these events, which don’t correlate with my nature, are very interesting to me,” Silero said.

“We are bringing some of the best musicians that the city can offer,” Zhao said.

“It’s really a treat we hope that students, faculty and the university community can hear and just be part of it,” she said.

The next performance will be “Spirit of Ireland,” featuring a group led by Senior Adjunct Professor of Music Michael Ryan at 6 p.m. on March 9 in Morgan Auditorium.

Bernarda Carranza can be reached at

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