Student opens for symphony

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    By Erin Pierce

    A 23-year-old BYU student?s music will engulf listeners with a dramatic, 45-minute Brahms piano solo for the Utah Valley Symphony?s season-opening performance at the Provo Tabernacle 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

    Brandon Stewart, a piano performance major from Fountain Valley, Calif., and winner of the 2005 Music Teachers National Association competition, will engage listeners of all musical backgrounds as he kicks off the Utah Valley Symphony?s opening performance with Brahms? Piano Concerto No. 1.

    ?Brahms is my favorite composer,? Stewart said. ?But it is a difficult piece?three movements, 45 minutes long?it gets a little tiring to play!?

    But Stewart looks anything but tired when performing, radiating personality on stage, said his piano instructor Irene Peery-Fox of BYU?s music department.

    ?Brandon has a natural feeling for music and a natural ability to communicate musical emotions to an audience,? Peery-Fox said.

    A performer needs more than personality and composure, however, to pull off a performance of this caliber, Peery-Fox said.

    ?The Brahms concerto is one of the most beautiful, gorgeous pieces in the entire piano repertoire. It requires a musician with a lot of depth and maturity,? Peery-Fox said. ?Even at a very young age, Brandon developed that depth and maturity that is required.?

    Stewart recognizes the depth of the piece and hopes he can communicate that to the audience.

    ?It?s a very emotional and spiritual piece, and you cannot listen to it or play it without feeling connected,? Stewart said. ?You can?t just sit there and play the notes and have the effect that Brahms intended for this piece.?

    Following Stewart?s performance, the symphony will perform Debussy?s ?Afternoon of a Faun? and Shostakovich?s ?Festive Overture.?

    The Utah Valley Symphony is a community orchestra, compsed of 70 musicians, all volunteers, ranging in age from 20 to 80 years old.

    Symphony Conductor, Bryce Rytting, said a handful of the musicians have been performing with the symphony for over 40 years.

    This type of dedication and love of the music is what impresses Rytting the most.

    ?Musicians tend to be really, really busy people and generally don?t get paid big bucks per hour,? Rytting said. ?It always amazes me that they have enough love of music to sacrifice time to play in an orchestra. It?s a wonderfully unmaterialistic thing in a too materialistic world.?

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