Vicky Chow, piano
Saturday, 13 August 2011 at 2pm • Chris Church Cathedral

Performer Vicky Chow, piano

Reviewer Ed Farolan


"Discovery Day" is this year's Musicfest's way of recognizing talent from Vancouver who have made it bigtime in the international scene. Vancouver pianist Vicky Chow who graduated from Juillard and now lives in New York is one of them. She has performed extensively as a classical and contemporary soloist, and has been described as “brilliant” (New York Times), “virtuosic” (New Jersey Star Ledger) and “sparkling” with a “feisty technique” (MIT Tech).

She is the pianist for the New York based eclectic contemporary sextet, Bang on a Can All-Stars and has performed with other groups such as Wordless Music Orchestra, Opera Cabal, Wet Ink Ensemble, ai ensemble and AXIOM.

In last Saturday's programme, she performed seven pieces from contemporary artists in their early thirties. These etudes exuded a blend of classic as well as experimental music. Two of the pieces that were highly experimental were the last etudes she performed: Daniel Wohl's aorta (2010) and Andy Akiho's Vick(i/y) for prepared piano (2008).

Young musicians today are into experimentation, and in her introduction to Wohl's piece, aorta, Chow explained how the composer was inspired to write this when he was attending a concert, and a radio was blasting from outside the hall.. The pianist who was playing Schubert was annoyed by this, but to Wohl, this was an inspiration to write compositons that blended both electronic music and the traditional piano classics. And that's how Chow played this piece: she had her laptop beside her which played eerie and sometimes disturbing electronic sounds together with the more hamonious classic tunes which, in my opinion, didn't go so well. I felt the use of electronic music was annoying and more of a hindrance rather than a help.

Her last piece Vick(i/y) for prepared piano was written for her by Akiho. This particular piece was interesting, as Chow adjusted the keys of the piano to sound like percussion, Japanese-style, giving me the impression of a Samurai movie, or the music in Noh drama while playing the classic keys, resulting in an ensemble of keys and pecussion. I liked this piece.

The audience gave her a standing ovation, not only because of her exquisite performance, but also the fact that a Vancouverite has made it in the international scene.

© 2011 Ed Farolan