British pianist stays on key with encore

An acclaimed British pianist performed for a captivated audience in Ice Auditorium on April 16 as a part of the Linfield Chamber Orchestra 2009-10 concert season.

The concert featured William Howard, who played works by Leoš Janáček, Robert Schumann, Gabriel Fauré and Frederic Chopin. Throughout the concert, the audience remained enraptured as Howard’s fingers danced across the keys.

The concert began with Janáček’s “In the Mists,” a four-movement piece written in 1912. The short movements were as evocative as a large work.

The first movement consisted of a beautiful but haunting melody that was seemingly contemplative. The second movement evoked visions of beauty from times past. This particular movement swept the audience into a world of flowing notes contrasted with unexpected moments of silence. The third movement wove in and out of cheerful sounds, creating a powerful flow of moods. It ended abruptly and unexpectedly, before continuing on to the fourth movement, which increased in intensity until a sudden change to a more relaxed, simple sound.

Following the Janáček piece was Schumann’s “Humoreske Op. 20.” The work was completed in 1839 and is an uninterrupted 25 minutes of music with several sections of different moods and tempos. Although the work changes frequently, it all ties together rather than seeming like a string of unrelated moods and moments.

“[It] takes us on an extraordinary journey through different moods and emotions,” Howard said.

The piece was played by Howard with such apparent calm and ease that one would never guess that his hands were crossing over and under each other across the keyboard, sometimes even playing on top of each other.

Three works composed by Fauré were performed next: “Romance Sans Paroles Op. 17 No. 3,” “Impromptu No. 2 in F minor Op. 31” and “Nocturne No. 4 in E flat Op. 36.” The first work may have been written as early as 1863, when Fauré was 18 years old. The other pieces were written in 1883 and 1884, respectively. Each piece was played with obvious passion and concentration.

“He was fantastic; I was in awe,” freshman Jenny Morgan said.

Last on the program were two of Chopin’s compositions: “Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23” and “Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor Op. 31.” The pieces were composed in 1830 and 1837, respectively. The Scherzo began with a dark, minor sound but soon switched to a cheerful, major tone.

The audience gave Howardan exuberant standing ovation, which resulted in an encore performance. For the encore, Howard performed Chopin’s “Nocturne in C sharp minor,” a powerfully emotive and beautiful piece.

The Linfield Chamber Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. April 30 in Ice Auditorium, playing Franz Josef Haydn’s “Symphony No. 59,” Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Franz Schubert’s “Symphony No. 5.”

Amanda Summers
Copy editor Amanda Summers can be reached at

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