IN: News & Features

From Walnut Hill to NEC They Come


The redoubtable Cathy Chan

The well-respected Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Summer Festival has relocated to the New England Conservatory. Beginning on August 7th, NEC’s attractive new Burnes Hall will ring out with distinguished performers of varied cultures and generations in 15 recitals. Hardly strangers to NEC, since 1990, FCPA has presented 131 memorable concerts in Jordan Hall with notable pianists, cellists, and violinists, in standard repertoire as well as some traditional Eastern instruments and rep. Click HERE for this impressive historical list.

Until this summer the annual music festival took place at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Its alumni include Lang Lang, Yeol Eum Son, Kate Liu, Eric Liu, and Channing Yu, to name a few. For the past 30 years, students have come from all over the world to enjoy three weeks of exhilarating music making with the festival’s distinguished faculty members. The residents enjoyed many masterclasses, daily evening performances and concerto competitions. It provided a perfect platform for students of Asian heritage to study abroad, and allowed them to jump right into the heart of the Boston musical scene. Over the years, many stayed after the festival to study at Walnut Hill, and students from different years bonded into a big family all over the world.

Sadly, earlier this year, Walnut Hills administrators informed FCPA that venue rental fees, would double and triple (presumably 3x the original amount) in the next. The Foundation kept its mission of creating an accessible musical platform for all students by making the tuition affordable, and offering some scholarships, even if it meant leaving a negative balance.

So, this sudden and substantial increase in rental fees made a dent spiritually and financially, directly causing the discontinuation of the annual festival. The news struck and saddened the music community of Greater Boston.

Walnut Hill’s CFO Jane Segale responded to BMInt thus:

Walnut Hill School for the Arts was no longer able to offer Ms. Chan the deeply discounted rates she was receiving to house her full program at the School as the costs of housing the program exceeded the revenue received.  The rates had only gone up once in many years.  We are thrilled she has been able to find a more cost advantaged arrangement with NEC and wish her and the festival the best there.       

After speaking with many musicians, administrators and institutions who have reached out to help, the chairwoman of the foundation, Catherine Chan, decided to preserve some of the legacies from the festival. This year, from August 7th to August 24th, the Foundation of Chinese Performing Arts will present award winning musicians across generations at New England Conservatory’s Burnes Hall for a total of 15 concerts – all free, with $10 dollar suggested.

This year, individual performers from the summer series are coincidentally arriving at thematic intersections, maybe creating an illusion that they are bound by a larger cohesive thread. For instance, Hsiang John Tu opens the summer series with an animal-themed piano music, representing Bolcom’s serpent, Debussy’s goldfish, Granados’s nightingale and Ravel’s sad birds. This writer will be commenting on the human animal through a musical dance of jazz, improvisation, and, I think, unusually combined standard rep in the myth of the “Seven Deadly Sins.” In the series closer, pianist Ji Yong Kim performs Schumann’s Carnival, where every character piece represents one named character. Opening with a tour of the musical animal kingdom resonates perfectly with the festive carnival that closes the series. Furthermore, Hung-Kuan Chen, one of the most honored pianists, will present three works by Beethoven as part of his program. If you come back for Larry Weng’s Bach “suite” and Peter Fang’s Bach-Brahms program, you will have completed what Hans von Bülow, conductor and critic describes as the “Holy Trinity of classical music.” Other examples remain, and we invite you to discover points of thematic intersection and birth an understanding of the current musical fashion.

On August 24th, the winner of the 2019 Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Concerto Competition will culminate in Brahms’s First Piano Concerto at Jordan Hall with the Mercury Orchestra, under the baton of Channing Yu, who 30 years ago played piano and violin during the first two years of the festival. 

FCPA will also be offering its first public concerto competition, in which eight outstanding applicants will perform live in Boston at Williams Hall on August 17th for the semi-final round: Xu Guo (China), Sahun Hong (USA), Brian Z. Le (USA), Jiarong Li (China), Zhiye Lin (China), Randy Ryan (Indonesia), Jun Sun (China), and Yun Wei (China). Three or four semi-finalists will advance to the final round to perform the entire concerto on August 18th.

This new blossoming chapter for the Foundation for the Chinese Performing Arts promises a fresh stream of inspiration in the Boston’s quiet summer season. Even though the festival has evolved from an immersive residency, the mission continues. In Chan’s words, “We are grateful that everything went smoothly in the past 30 years. Now we are moving ahead, providing a stage for rising stars to shine. We create opportunities for the public to appreciate these powerful artists, because they are the future.” 

A doctoral candidate at the NEC in contemporary piano improvisation under Ran Blake and Anthony Coleman, Chi Wei Lo does standard rep at prize-winning levels, flashmob, improv, interdisciplinary, and ever-literate programming.

The complete schedule follows:

NEC Student Life Center (Peter Vanderwalker photo)

Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts
Summer Concert Series at New England Conservatory (Various NEC locations)
August 7 – 24, 2019

Admission Free, $10 suggested. Age 6 and under not admitted.

1. Wednesday 8/7/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Hsiang John Tu 涂祥, piano

Animal Style—Piano Music Inspired by the Animal Kingdom

Saint-Saëns: Le Cygne
Debussy: Poissons d’or (Goldfish)
Ravel : Oiseaux tristes (Sad Birds)
Messiaen: La Colombe (The Dove), Le Loriot
Ravel: Noctuelles (Night Moths), from Miroirs
Bolcom: Butterflies, hummingbirds
Bartók: From the Diary of a Fly, The Night’s Music & The Chase,
Schumann: Vogel als Prophet
Granados: Laments of The Maiden and the Nightingale
Villa-Lobos: O Boizinho de chumbo
Bolcom: Tabby Cat Walk, The Serpent’s Kiss – Rag Fantasy, from The Garden of Eden

2. Thursday 8/8/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall

The Formosa Duo: Sam Ou, cello and Chi-Chen Wu, piano

Kurt Weill: Sonata for Violoncello and Piano
Reza Vali (b. 1952): Persian Folk Songs, Set No. 16
Arvo Pärt: Fratres for Violoncello and Piano
Rachmaninoff: Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano. Op. 19

3. Friday 8/9/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Chi Wei Lo 駱奇偉, piano

Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins

Wrath: Liszt: Totentanz
Sloth: Pärt: Spiegel im Spiegel
Lust: Liszt: Transcendental Étude No. 10, Appassionato
Gluttony: Debussy: La Puerta Del Vino: (Wine Gate)
Envy: Stravinsky: Improvisations on Petrushka
Greed: Ornette Coleman: Law Years
Pride: Scriabin’s Sonata No. 9, “Black Mass”

4. Saturday 8/10/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Jiyoung Lee, cello and Victor Cayres, piano

Bach: Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord in G
Brahms: Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Major, Op.78
Ligeti : Sonata for Solo Cello
Piazzolla: Grand Tango for Cello and Piano
Thomas Demenga: New York Honk

5. Sunday 8/11/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Brown Hall
Hung-Kuan Chen 陳宏寬, piano

Piano Sonata No. 13 “Quasi una fantasia”
Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90
Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Op. 101

Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 53
Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Major

6. Wednesday 8/14/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Han Chen 陳涵, piano

Steven Stucky: Sonata for Piano (2014)
Schubert: Piano Sonata in A Major D. 664
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, Op. 84

7. Thursday 8/15/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
X+YZ Ensemble: Quan Yuan 袁泉, violin; Wanzhe Zhang 張婉哲, soprano;
Jia Shi 施珈, piano; Sue-Ellen Tcherepnin, flute; and Vladimir Andrić,baritone

 Songs, arias, and chamber works by Jerome Kern, Puccini, Bizet, Ravel, Mozart, Doppler, A.Lasala, Glazunov, W. Kroll, A. L. Webber, Lehar, T. Huang, and Weill

8. Friday 8/16/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Larry Weng, piano

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (trans. Hess) J.S.
Siciliano from Flute Sonata No. 2 BWV 1031 (trans. Kempff)
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein, BWV 734
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645

Foreboding (Předtucha)
Death (Smrt)

Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Schubert: Piano Sonata in G Major, D. 894, Op. 78

9. Saturday 8/17/2019, 1 pm, NEC’s Williams Hall
Concerto Semi-Final Round

 10. Sunday 8/18/2019, 7 pm, NEC’s Williams Hall
Concerto Final Round: Brahms piano concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15

11, Monday 8/19/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Angelo Xiang Yu 于翔,violin and Feng Niu 牛豐, piano

Beethoven: Sonata for violin and piano in D Major, Op.12, No.1
Britten: Suite for violin and piano, Op. 6
Franck: Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano
Ravel: Tzigane Rhapsody

12. Tuesday 8/20/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Andrew Li, piano

Schubert: Impromptu D. 935, Op. 142, No. 1 in F Minor
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90
Stravinsky: Three Movements from Petrushka 
Moussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

13. Wednesday 8/21/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Peter Fang 方壯壯, piano 

Bach: Goldberg Variations BWV 988
Bach/Brahms: Chaconne in D Minor for Left Hand
Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Paganini (Book I and II)

14. Thursday 8/22/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Burnes Hall
Ji Yong Kim, piano

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 14 “Moonlight”
Beethoven: Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat major, Op. 35 “Eroica”
Schumann: Carnaval Op. 9

15, Saturday 8/24/2019, 7:30 pm, NEC’s Jordan Hall
Concerto Concert with Mercury Orchestra, Channing Yu, conductor 


Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15, piano soloist: TBA after Aug 18
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

*  *  *

The admirable Dr. Catherine Tan Chan 譚嘉陵 and her Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts have done enormous service to the Boston area classical music. FCPA is a non-profit organization registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in January, 1989, whose main objectives are:


To enhance the understanding and the appreciation of Eastern heritage through music and performing arts.

To promote Chinese music and performing arts through performances.

To provide opportunities and assistance to young artists.

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