Talk About Commitment! The World Is In Good Hands … These Good Hands

Though we may be media-assaulted every day about what is going wrong with the world, it is also true that many more things, too often hiding in plain sight, are proof that the outlook for the world is actually pretty darn good.

Millennium Stage LogoSo it was for me to be so reminded, along with the many others attending last Friday’s (Aug. 7, 2015) Kennedy Center Millennium Stage performance in Washington, D.C.

Ella Kim, 7 years old

On stage to thrill us were the six winners of the 30th International Young Artist Piano Competition, ranging in age from 7 years old (yes, 7 years old) to age 29.

Each had masterfully paired a modern-day Chinese piano composition — the “eastern” — with a more classic piece from Europe — the “western”.

One by one, these artists uniquely married the new with the old in a way that rendered us wide-eyed and wide-eared, seeing and hearing the nominally discordant become so totally harmonious.

Joshua Kucharski, 10, sixth grade

Worlds merged: there were no political or geographic boundaries, frontiers disappeared, walls came down, the world was one, and we were at one with a world that sure looked good.

Joanna Cheng, 11, sixth grade

More than that, how proud you would have felt as eyewitness to these six musicians crafting their magic. Would you have ever felt good! About them. About yourself. About the future.

And guess what! You still can! Here’s the link to watch it all unfold, just as if you were there … actually better, ‘cause we couldn’t quite see from where we were sitting all that you will get to study from close up:

Katherine Lee, 14

Make the time to watch this video from beginning to end: you will be pleased as punch with yourself for having done so. Check Note 1 at the bottom for each performance start-time.

Listen  carefully to each pianist’s first piece. Each composition is a gift from China; each will thrill you; each will set forth how and why barriers between peoples can indeed be made to melt away. (Note 2)

As you watch, focus on the hands and face of Ella Kim, the first young person to touch the keyboard — the 7-year-old you see here up top.  In the first 30 seconds, you will see why she had every last one of us awestruck from beginning to end … the “end” being a special moment where you are bound to be deeply touched by the suddenness of her smile!

Irene Koc, 17

Same for them all (again, Note 1) and especially for the fourth and fifth pianists, Katherine Lee (14, from Michigan) and Irene Koc (17, a high school senior from New Jersey).

Like Ella, both teenagers were dancing a pianist’s ballet as much as they were striking keys … watch the gracefulness in their wrists, their fingertips, their eyes, how they move with their music …

Han Wang, 29, extraordinary, sophisticated, both as pianist and musical interpreter

For sure, all of these young people and certainly their parents and mentors are to be admired for their common commitment to achieve excellence.

Fact is, it doesn’t get any better than this! And how the world looks better for it!

Note 1 – The pianists listed in order of their appearance, with the video cue time (minute:second) where each individual performance begins:

  • Ella Kim, age 7 – 3:09
  • Joshua Kucharski, sixth grade – 8:45
  • Joanna Cheng, sixth grade – 16:39
  • Katherine Lee, age 14 – 23:20
  • Irene Koc, high school senior – 34:16
  • Han Wang, 29  – 45:15

Note 2 – Program

  • Ella Kim: 1) Swing Fun by Ai Ping Jing; 2) Separation Nocture by Mikhail Glinka arr. Mily Balakirev
  • Joshua Kucharski: 1) Fairies in the Lily Garden (2015) by Li-Ly Chang; 2) Variations on a Theme of Paganini by Isaac Berkovich
  • Joanna Cheng: 1) Prelude and Fugue in C Major by Zhong Ron Lo; 2) L’Alouette by Mikhail Glinka arr. Mily Balakirev
  • Katharine Lee: 1) Spring Time by Hu Wei Huang; 2) Variations sur une Chaconne by Alfredo Casella
  • Irene Koc: 1) Jin Yang Zhao by Quan Jihao; 2) Sonneto 104 del Petrarca by Franz Liszt
  • Han Wang: 1) Three Sketches: Travelogue of Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (2015) by Li-Ly Chang; 2) La Valse by Maurice Ravel

All images copyrighted by and courtesy of The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.