© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

Classical Teens, Superstar Sparkle In Boston

From Boston's New England Conservatory, an 18-year-old pianist plays Chopin, a teen string quartet performs Beethoven and the renowned violinist Hilary Hahn collaborates with young musicians who are around the age she was when her concert career took off.

Although many of today's teen pianists look up to young piano phenoms such as Lang Lang, Deborah Yeung, 18, says her role model is pianist Vladimir Ashenazy. She admires the way he pays attention to detail while never losing sight of his larger musical vision.

A recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, Yeung performs the Grand Polonaise Brillante by Frederic Chopin.

The musicians of The Harlow Quartet first got together at the Greenwood Music Camp in Massachusetts. During their last summer at the camp they tackled one of the most daunting works ever composed for string quartet – Beethoven's Grosse Fuge (Great Fugue).

"I was quite intimidated by the idea of playing it," admits the group's violist, Paris Ellsworth.

"Our coach came up with the idea, and we got really excited and nervous because not a lot of quartets take on this piece," explains violinist Hillary Ditmars.

Ditmars and violinist Jennifer Charness, 17, started playing together in a "baby string quartet" at the New England Conservatory when they were around eight, and all four members of the group have been going to the Greenwood camp for years.

Rounding out the quartet is cellist Jonah Ellsworth. Paris and Jonah are brothers.

"It really is like all of us are siblings," says Charness. "All four of us are very, very close."

The Harlow Quartet plays "Allegro molto e con brio" from Beethoven's Grosse Fuge. At the end of the program, guest artist Hilary Hahn joins three of the quartet members to perform the third movement from the Piano Quintet in A, Op. 81, by Antonin Dvorak.

Violinist Hilary Hahn might well be the perfect adult guest artist for this show, and many From the Top teens consider her a hero. She was only ten when she entered Philadelphia's Curtis Institute, and despite a hugely successful international career, she is still young enough to remember what it was like to be a teenage classical musician.

Before collaborating with the show's young musicians, Hahn and host Christopher O'Riley perform the second movement from Charles Ives' Sonata No. 3.

Cellist Branson Yeast began his musical adventures with the piano.

"I started piano when I was really young, but I was really bad and never practiced," he recalls. "I was more interested in playing video games."

When Yeast was in fifth grade he remembers being inspired by a cellist in a group of string players visiting his school.

"She played Over the Rainbow in the high register and the Theme from Jaws low on the C string," says Yeast. "I thought it was so cool that cellos had that range." The musician who inspired him soon became his first cello teacher.

Now a serious cellist and a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, the talented 18-year-old Yeast is preparing to enter the Curtis Institute next year. He is also one of Hilary Hahn's biggest fans.

"I've always loved her musicianship, and some friends and I even created a fan page on Facebook for her," he says.

In performing with Hahn, on From the Top, Yeast got to live out one of his dreams. Yeast, Hahn and O'Riley play the third movement from Franz Schubert's Piano Trio No. 1, in B-flat, Opus 99.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.