October 26, 2018

Students, faculty, and alumnae had the unique opportunity to perform a program featuring the complete solo piano works of Leonard Bernstein at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Oct. 21, presenting a collection of what The Washington Post called “intimate musical portraits.”

The event was part of a two-year-long, global celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of renowned composer, conductor, and musician Leonard Bernstein. Held during Cardinal Weekend, the event was also a showcase for faculty, students, and alumnae of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art piano division.  

Bernstein’s piano works performed during the event included Non troppo presto (Music for the Dance No. I) (1938), Piano Sonata (1938), Music for the Dance No. II (1938), 7 Anniversaries (1943), 4 Anniversaries (1948), 4 Sabras (1950), 5 Anniversaries (1954), Touches (1981), and 13 Anniversaries (1988).

Ivo Kaltchev, head of the piano division, stated that it was a “privilege and honor for the pianists” to join the international celebration of Bernstein’s life and legacy. He noted that the complete solo piano works of Bernstein had previously never been performed live in Washington, D.C. This rare opportunity, combined with the prestigious venue, made this program “quite unique and attractive,” he said.

Francesca Hurst, who received her D.M.A. and M.M. from Catholic University and now serves on the piano faculty as an instructor, played Bernstein’s 13 Anniversaries, a set of pieces which each celebrated a person in the composer’s life.

“The variety of character and expression he created in these piano miniatures is astounding, from haunting moments to humorous waltzes to jazzy, soulful melodies,” Hurst said. “The more I play the pieces, the more I love them.”

Alumna Catherine Lim performed Non troppo presto, Music for the Dance No. 1, after spending time analyzing and adopting the harmonic motives Bernstein used throughout the piece. She had previously played for the museum at “Women Making History Awards” in 2016.

“Now, I feel so honored to perform there again,” she said.

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