Weekends at UTEP are usually vibrant and filled with students going to the game, but last Friday night on Jan. 13, the main event was at the Fox Fine Arts recital hall. Juilliard pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Michael Brown gave a riveting piano recital at UTEP.
Jerome Lowenthal is currently chair of the piano department at Juilliard where he has worked for over 26 years and is also on the faculty at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Ca. He started out his career at just 13-years-old when he became a part of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Accompanying him in the performance was Michael Brown, a Juilliard alumnus and former student of Lowenthal. He is the winner of the 2012 Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Recital Award. Brown has also worked with pianists Leon Fleisher and Richard Goode.
Lowenthal and Brown performed in El Paso throughout the week as a part of the El Paso Pro Musica concert series. The duo first performed at the El Paso Museum of Art on Thursday, Jan. 12, where many students from the UTEP music department were present.
At Friday night’s recital, the duo gave multiple four-hand piano performances, as well as a solo performance each. Their stage presence and way of speaking made it easy to like them. During the joint renderings of classical pieces, Lowenthal addressed the audience narrating a scene before playing each piece so that the audience could have a better understanding of the music. Each narration was animated and comical. At one point, Lowenthal and Brown had the audience laughing with a short reenactment of “Beauty and the Beast.” Their joint pieces were from “Ma mere l’Oye,” classical stories and George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”
Although they worked exceptionally well together, they did not disappoint as solo performers. Brown played a captivating rendition of Ludwig Beethoven’s “Fifteen variations and fugue in E-flat major, Op.35 Eroica,” and Lowenthal gave a lively performance of Francis Poulenc’s “Aubade,” which he composed for piano. Before playing, each performer gave a background on their piece and explained some of the technical components. Both pianists received praise and standing ovations for their performances.
They gave a show that anyone, regardless of musical taste or knowledge would have enjoyed. Together they were enthralling and entertaining, and as individuals they were both fascinating in their own way.
El Paso Pro Musica will continue to bring classical musicians to El Paso throughout the spring as part of the El Paso Chamber Music Festival. The next musicians who will be at the Fox Fine Arts recital hall as part of the festival are Grammy-award winning guitarist Jason Vieux on Jan. 22, and Zuill Bailey and Yullya Gorenman on piano, Jan. 28.
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