Rising Stars Elliot Wuu and Sterling Elliott to Perform at the Ebenezer Theater, February 13
Jan 4, 2022
Pianist Elliot Wuu and cellist Sterling Elliott will perform music by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Saint-Saëns, and Tchaikovsky at the Ebenezer Theater in Easton, Maryland (17 S. Washington St.) on February 13th at 2 pm. The concert is part of Chesapeake Music’s Rising Stars Series and will also be streamed for a week.
The program the two young musicians have created is as follows:
- Robert Schumann, Kinderszenen, Op. 15, Elliot Wuu, piano
- Franz Schubert, “Wanderer” Fantasy (Fantasie in C Major), Op. 15, Elliot Wuu
- Ludwig van Beethoven, Cello Sonata No. 4 in C Major, Op. 102, no.1, Sterling Elliott and Elliot Wuu
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Andante cantabile [arr.], Sterling Elliott and Elliot Wuu
- Camille Saint-Saëns, Havanaise in E Major, Op. 83 [arr.], Sterling Elliott and Elliot Wuu
Despite the time pressures of their classes at The Julliard School and a busy concert schedule, Elliot and Sterling recently discussed their up-coming Easton performance.
Why have you chosen this program, and why do you enjoy the music and composers you have chosen?
Elliot: I’ve always put the Kinderszenen and the “Wanderer” Fantasy on a personal pedestal ever since I was a small child. In my opinion, they’re one of the most musical (Schumann) and technically challenging (Schubert) works of each respective composer. During the pandemic, we all had extra time on our hands – oddly, sometimes more than we could fully utilize. Rather than being locked up in a practice room and treasuring every hour I have left in a day, the extra time allowed me to go outside and take long walks in my neighborhood back home and in Central Park in New York. It allowed me to have more self-reflection about not only my current life, but also my childhood. During this reflection, I thought about the Schumann piece because I could relate to some of the movements (“pleading child,” “happy enough,” “at the fireside,” etc.). Kinderszenen or “Scenes from Childhood” is an introspective and intimate perspective of childhood in the lens of Schumann. His poetic sensibility captures the innocent and naive childhood in thirteen short pieces, weaving through inspirations of dreams, playful games, and memories. As for the Schubert, I really wanted to challenge myself. Right before the pandemic, I heard a live concert at Carnegie Hall with Korean pianist Seong-jin Cho performing this piece, and I was completely inspired. Performing this work is almost like running a marathon because even though there are four movements, Schubert wrote connecting transitions so the piece is to be played without a break. The magnitude of the work really brings both the pianist and the listener through a complete spectrum of human emotion such as pure joy, nostalgia, and alienation from home.
Sterling: Our duo selections are not only among my favorites in the cello repertoire, but also some of the best representations of each composer’s individual voice. There are symphonic qualities to each of the selections, and I am excited with the challenge to tackle such a magnitude with just cello and piano! The Beethoven I find to be a miniature symphonic work, though with the profound intimacy and beautiful intricacies that are usually reserved only for chamber works. The Tchaikovsky is a similar case, as the work was originally composed as the slow movement to his first string quartet, a fitting setting for such a melody to be found, though this movement was later expanded to an orchestral setting. The Saint-Saëns, which was originally composed for violin and orchestra, has been adopted for cello and piano so that Elliot and I will be able to finish our program with this larger-than-life work!
What would you like the audience to take away from hearing this program?
Elliot: I think both solo piano works really put a spotlight on human emotion, and both composers try to capture the subtleties of these emotions.
Sterling: The Beethoven sonata features his late period peculiarities, mainly these immediate switches between serene and tumultuous tempers which in turn evoke both soothing and boisterous moods throughout. The Tchaikovsky Andante cantabile is a famous tune that epitomizes his ability to write these beautifully sentimental melodies. The final work, the Havanaise, is a work imbued with rich Romanticism while displaying feats of virtuosity. I hope for this program to both serenade and fascinate the audience, as well as leave them with an ear worm or two!
What is the most memorable/enjoyable musical experience that you have had to date – either your own performance or that of others?
Elliot: A few years ago, I watched Martha Argerich perform Prokofiev’s 3rd piano concerto at Carnegie Hall. It has always been a dream of mine to watch Argerich play live, especially that concerto in which her recordings are considered legendary. I remember seeing that specific concert on the Carnegie Hall website calendar and seeing that it has been sold out for months. I would periodically check the website in hopes that someone would return their ticket; however, because Argerich had not performed at Carnegie Hall for over a decade, no one would give one up. The morning of the concert, I went to the box office to see if anyone had returned tickets, and thankfully, they had one ticket. It was definitely one of the most expensive tickets I’ve ever purchased ($170) for a single concert, and it wasn’t a great ticket either (I sat almost at the back of the hall). Throughout the entire performance, I was in complete awe. Argerich commanded that concerto like she could play it in her sleep. She played the entirety with such ease, barely looking at the keyboard for the most part. The riveting energy of the hall and the audience is something I still remember to this day.
Sterling: I recently had the honor of performing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl during the Tchaikovsky Spectacular, one of their most popular events of the year. This stunning amphitheater is a truly unique concert venue as it not only seats upwards of 17,000, but also features a variety of music from artists such as Stephen Marley, Billie Eilish, and classical musicians such as myself! The incredibly affordable tickets and informal setting of the Bowl works extraordinarily well to bring in a number of audience members that may not be frequent concertgoers. The excitement and energy of the sold-out show at such a venue was palpable with deafening silences during cadenza sections of the Variations, as well as whistles and cheers after virtuosic riffs. It was quite spectacular to experience such spirit and exuberance from an audience, especially after so many months of performing for only microphones and cameras!
Don’t miss this truly exceptional Chesapeake Music concert presenting Elliot Wuu and Sterling Elliott in Easton, Maryland for the first time.