July 7, 2021
Orli Shaham on her Café Ludwig LIVE! program (June 20, 2021)

June 20, 2021

The pianist Orli Shaham reflects on her first live Café Ludwig program at Pacific Symphony since the pandemic began, taking us through the program piece by piece.

"The idea of this program is to acknowledge what we've been going through over the past year and a half, and to begin to find a way out of it.

We open the program with Reena Esmail's Saans, which means “breath” in Hindi. It's almost a meditation, a kind of checking in and identifying what is on your mind during this time. It's very sensual and gorgeous, and very meditative. Reena lives in Southern California, and she came and worked with us as we prepared the piece, which was incredibly exciting. There is nothing more rewarding than playing a work for the composer in person.

The second piece is Jessie Montgomery's Peace, which she wrote during the pandemic. It’s a moment of quiet reflection for all that we're grieving right now. Part of the point of this piece is to explore how we make peace with sadness. It’s for violin and piano and the concertmaster Dennis Kim and I have a great musical closeness. Sharing this music with him feels very natural.

The Andante movement from the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata is one of the most moving works of classical music. After having “checked in” with our feelings for the first two pieces, now we can find catharsis. I'm particularly excited to play it with Warren Hagerty, because this is the first time he and I have played a duo. This piece is a great way to connect with this terrific cellist who is likely to become a long time colleague.

We're performing the last movement from Amanda Maier’s Violin Sonata, which is vivacious and joyful and just filled with a love of life. Now, having meditated and reflected on our feelings, and having let go of some of that baggage, we can begin to look to the future and see the beauty and the life-loving joy. One of the things I find special about this music is that it becomes a part of the discovery for all of us at this present moment, of reconnecting with the joy that we used to get out of life – but in a new way, coming out of our collective grief.

We’re finishing with a trio by Germaine Tailleferre, a piece of music that is expertly crafted. It’s the only complete multi movement work on the program, and brings home the idea that we can find wholeness once again."

The program was live-streamed on June 20, 2021, and is available on-demand through July 19, 2021. More information and streaming video is here: https://www.pacificsymphony.org/tickets/concert/ludwig2.

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