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A Virtuoso is Born . . .

Last Sunday, June 11th, our Andre Peck (13) presented his Eighth Grade Graduation Recital at the gorgeous Cappella Performing Arts Center in his home town of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Andre offered a gigantic 90-minute program of solo works, concerto movements, and chamber works to an overflow audience of 150 or so specially invited music lovers.

Andre opened the program with a charming rustic dance for Piano and Cello with his brother Stephen, followed by five major solo works: a Bach Prelude and Fugue in D minor from the WTC Book II; the first movement of Beethoven's Sonata in C Major, Opus 2, No. 3; followed by a massive group of three Chopin works: The Ballade No 2 in F Major, Opus 38, the Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Opus 27, No. 1, and the Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp minor, Opus 39. This was just the first half! Having formed his own chamber group with four other young musicians, Andre opened the second half with the Allegretto movement of the Piano Quintet No. 6 in C Major, Opus 57 by Boccherini. This was followed by the performance of two concerto movements: the third movement of Mozart's Concerto in C Major, K. 467 and the first movement of Saint-Saens Concerto No. 2 in G minor. Andre was supported by our great collaborative artist, Kerri Lejeune. As if this was not enough, Andre offered the explosive audience the super virtuosic Feux d'artifice ("Fireworks") by Debussy as an encore.

This 90-minute recital by a thirteen-year-old kid was not just a great achievement. This was a watershed moment. This was an incredibly momentous occasion in a young artist's life. This very rare event exhibited a profound starburst of the gifts and talent of a young artist. A virtuoso was born - in real time - in front of our very eyes and ears. Those of us fortunate enough to be in attendance will never be the same. Andre will never be the same. His playing had crossed over into a wholly new dimension as if the earth had cracked open and he came forth.

Andre's playing - in this new dimension - is extremely difficult to describe. I would say first and foremost that his playing exhibited an incredible authority and command. Each work was presented as if there was no other way to play it. He played with such conviction - especially for a young man of 13. His playing was highly concentrated as he led his audience through the myriad complexities of major works of art as if it was effortless. His playing was highly disciplined yet had a drive and a wildness that left one wondering what would happen next. The playing felt spontaneous and improvised. This was romantic piano playing at its best. The multi-layered kaleidoscopic colors left one breathless. Andre's tonal landscape had enormous range from gigantic volcanic outbursts to the most intimate and ethereal.

Andre's presence on stage is also to be held in high esteem. He does not let any superfluous physical gestures distract or detract from the music. All of his body and soul is "into" the keyboard. He plays with great confidence as his gifts and preparation allow, but also with great humility. He clearly is a servant of the music. Andre practices what our beloved teacher, Martin Marks, always preached. He would say to Jo Anne and me quite often that "If you want to serve yourself and others, serve the music first".

As if this was not enough, Andre's program was offered as a fund-raiser. He raised more than two-thousand dollars for his Logan High School Band.

Yours in Music -

Joe & Jo Anne


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