Posts tagged piano
Guest Artist: Hélène Wickett
Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett has regularly appeared as soloist with major orchestras and in solo recital throughout Europe and the Americas as well as being active as a chamber musician. Her London Wigmore Hall debut took place in 1985, Kennedy Center in 1986, Paris Opéra Comique and Rome Villa Medicis in 1993.

Ms. Wickett has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Göteborg Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Residentie Orchestra of the Hague, Pittsburgh Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Graz Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, National Chamber Orchestra, Marseilles Opera Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Alabama Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, National Chamber Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Reno Chamber Orchestra, Aalborg Symphony and the Irish Radio Television Orchestra among many others, with conductors Raymond Leppard, Paavo Berglund, Christoph von Dohnányi, Hans Vonk, George Cleve, Edo de Waart, Nicholas McGegan, Joseph Silverstein, Peter Erös, Eduardo Mata, Bernhard Klee, Mehli Mehta, Janos Fürst, Murry Sidlin, Michael Lankester and Michael Tilson Thomas. 

She has played solo recitals in virtually every major western musical capital. Winner of the Pro Musicis Foundation Award, she made her New York debut under their auspices in 1980. Through the Pro Musicis Foundation she also has played in many non-traditional venues such as hospitals, maximum-security prisons, drug rehabilitation centers and mental institutions for diverse audiences with limited access to live classical music. 

Born in Palo Alto, California to an American father and Austrian mother, she began piano and violin lessons at age 4, played her first solo recital at 6, made her orchestral debut at 8 and won the San Francisco Symphony Youth Auditions at age 11, making the first of numerous solo appearances with that orchestra. She entered Stanford University at age 16, after having lived in Paris for several years to study theory and composition with Nadia Boulanger. Her piano teachers were Alfred Brendel, Robert Casadesus, Elena Hitchcock, Benjamin Kaplan, Abram Chasins and Geneviève Joy. 

Ms. Wickett has performed some 70 concertos with orchestra as well as most of the chamber music repertory. A violin student of Henryk Szeryng, Stuart Canin, Jacob Krachmalnick, and Naoum Blinder, she also plays viola and harpsichord. She is principal violist for Symphony Parnassus. She has also studied voice in Vienna and is fluent in six languages.   

Pianist Wuu connects with deep feelings in Rachmaninoff's 'Rhapsody'
Elliot Wuu, piano

Elliot Wuu, piano

Elliot Wuu, piano soloist for the Symphony Parnassus June 11 concert, loves the deep feelings evoked by Rachmaninoff, the great Russian Romantic composer who also happens to be his favorite.

“I feel like I can connect with the strong emotions. I adore his heart-wrenching harmonies,” Elliot says.

Elliot, 17, lives in Fremont, Calif., and attends Valley Christian High School in San Jose. He studies piano with Yoshikazu Nagai at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College Division, and when not practicing, he likes to play with gadgets and technology, and also loves to swim and play basketball. He has been studying piano since age 6.

His love of music began early: His parents told him that as a baby, he frequently slept next to the piano bench while his sister Rebecca practiced; she is now preparing to graduate with a piano degree from the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

And as for Elliot, all those naps next to the piano bench, plus many years of practice have paid off.   

Elliot Wuu, piano

Elliot Wuu, piano

He is excited to play Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini at the upcoming concert. “I am ecstatic to perform with Symphony Parnassus,” he said. “I hope I will be able to share my love of music with the audience, and to inspire them too!”

“I really like Rachmaninoff's creativity throughout this piece,” Elliot says. “He uses numerous ways to vary the Paganini motive to compose unique textures and expressions in each variation.”

The Rhapsody—one of Rachmaninoff’s most popular pieces—is actually a set of 24 variations on the 24th and last of composer Paganini's Caprices for solo violin. In 2015, Elliot performed it to win the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. That achievement is one of many national and international prizes he has won in his young career, including:  

  • 2017 National YoungArts Foundation Finalist Winner
  • 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts candidate
  • 2014 Lang Lang International Music Foundation Young Scholar (2014-2016)
  • 2016-2021 Music Teachers Association of California Young Artist Guild, the highest honor bestowed to California music students
  • Two-time first prize winner of the Pacific Musical Society Competition, whose past winners include violinist Yehudi Menuhin and pianist Leon Fleisher
Born to play: Pianist Parker Van Ostrand performs Beethoven’s Concerto No. 2 on Jan. 29
Parker Van Ostrand, piano

Parker Van Ostrand, piano

At age 3, Parker Van Ostrand knew he wanted to play the piano, and pestered his parents for a full year before they bought him one.

“They were puzzled about how I came to know about the piano at such a young age, especially since no one in our family or extended family plays the piano,” he says.  

It’s a good thing they paid attention to their persistent son.

One year after he began playing piano, at age 5, he won the gold medal at the American Association for the Development of the Gifted and Talented (AADGT) competition and was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. He has since returned to Carnegie Hall twice, and has also performed in various cities throughout the U.S., Japan, and Singapore. He was a finalist in the Mondavi Young Artist Competition in 2016, and currently studies with Linda Nakagawa and Natsuki Fukasawa.

On Jan. 29, Parker, 13, will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major with Symphony Parnassus at the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco. “I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to perform with Symphony Parnassus. I hope the audience will enjoy the Beethoven as much as I do.”

Of the Beethoven, he says, “this piece is full of different characters, from charming at the beginning of the first movement to the beautiful melodies in the second movement to the lively dance in the third movement,” he said.

An 8th grader, Parker lives with his parents and two brothers in Sacramento, Calif. Though he was the first pianist in the family (one brother now plays, too), he wasn’t the first musician; his mom, Juliette Luong, studied cello at Eastman School of Music.

In addition to playing the piano, Parker enjoys running and runs for his school’s track team as well as the Pacific Racers Athletic Association. In the summer of 2016, he participated in the Junior Olympics. He also enjoys painting and learning Japanese.