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Report on Classical Concert at Carnegie Hall

by Lynn Yen
June 2013

EIRNS/Stuart Lewis

Lynn Yen at the Schiller Institute conference in New York City in January.

This report was made available to the LaRouche Movement by Lynn Yen, who spoke at the Schiller Institute conference in New York City in January of this year.

This past Tuesday, May 28th at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, a concert was performed on a German Steinway specially tuned for us by Steinway Hall, to C=256 cycles per second (256 Hz), at an A=430 Hz.

I opened the concert with a very brief remark about the unique nature of the concert. That is, this is the first time, to our knowledge, that a concert is presented at Carnegie Hall with an emphasis on Proper Tuning—a return to what was known, as recently as the 1940s, as the "Scientific" tuning, also as the "physical" tuning, at a middle C=256 Hz. This is about a quarter tone or note lower than what is customary today.

Giuseppe Verdi.

I also mentioned that this year happens to be the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great Italian composer, Giuseppe Verdi, who also emphasized, and campaigned successfully for legislation, in Italy, to maintain this scientific tuning. Tian Jiang's relationship to this particular concert, and this effort at large, lies in that he has always stressed the primacy of vocalization over mere instrumental technique in his performances. The happy convergence between his desired approach, and that advocated by Verdi and the Classical vocal tradition, is this return to vocal transparency in the service of musical Beauty and musical Truth.

In the first half of his concert, Tian performed the Beethoven piano sonata no. 7, Op.10 No.3, in D major. We chose for late seating to occur after the first sonata, so that the performance would not be disturbed. (There were, in fact, quite a lot of people who arrived late due to the terrible weather that day. There were also 30 students/teachers/parents who were from one high school who were turned away because the box office had sold out and we were out of tickets to give away to students. All in, the audience was something around 500, with about 24 out of the 160 students, parents and teachers, along with various others who did not make it due to the storm.

Ludwig van Beethoven.

The first Beethoven sonata was followed by Beethoven piano sonata no. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, the Appassionata. Following intermission, there was another brief remark from me about the Foundation and its purpose, in which I asked for donations. The first half opened with the performance of Frederick Chopin's Nocturne op. 62 No.1 in B major, followed by Brahms' Handel Variations op. 24 in B-flat Major. Tian finished the concert with Chopin's famous Scherzo no. 2 in B-flat minor, played as an encore.

What was immediately striking about the concert to me, is how differently Tian performed the Brahms, this time (which he restarted twice), than he did in his last Carnegie Hall concert/recording—there was a clarity of articulation and thoughtfulness, as well as many nuances which were not in last year's concert. Tian remarked that the tuning of the piano caused very perceptible changes in his Chopin as well—Leszek Wojcek, the Carnegie Hall sound engineer remarked that the Chopin has a Bel Canto like sonority. I noticed a voicing in the two Chopin pieces quite unlike any that I've heard.

As to the Beethoven, it was remarked upon by one attendee who is a notable musician that it seems as if the first Beethoven had too much pedal, but it is really due to the over-abundance of reverberation in the hall (Zankel has wood sound paneling on the sides as well as front, so it is quite bright). The same individual went on to say that he thought the Appassionata was excellent, intellectually and emotionally sound, and clearly delineated.

Actually, the concert meant a lot more. In fact, one teacher from the Bronx who came with about 15 high school students, felt so compelled by his experience, that right afterwards, at 10:21pm, he sent me the following text message: "Thanks so much. It was like watching a spiritualist or a medium almost creating life or taking it away. I'm not sure what I mean except to say that it was profound for my students as well as myself."

There were some families of fallen NYPD officers that we had also invited as guests of this concert. One family wrote: "We received a letter inviting us to the New York City Police Departments' Memorial Mass in June but we will be in Boston at that time. Then, we received an e-mail from the NYPD inviting us to a piano concert on May 28, the anniversary of our son Dave's death in a line of duty accident.

"Part of the reason we said "yes" to the Carnegie Hall Concert was because Medal Day had been there. We received a medal for Dave the year the families of 911 victims received their medals. There were so many family members they needed a big space.

"The pianist was excellent last night. We were in box seats and could see Tian Jiang perfectly. We watched his talented hands move all over the keyboard of the grand piano . . .and even saw the movement of the hammers hitting the strings. He played pieces from Beethoven, Chopin and Brahms. It wasn't the greatest day, or night weather-wise ... but it was something special. We met and talked to many interesting people. Thank you for inviting us."

Among the many responses, one parent from a school in Queens wrote insightfully, "Thank you so much for sharing the performance with us. I especially enjoyed your explanation of the "correct" tuning of middle C. So from minute 1, this was a learning experience for me and my party.

"During the intermission, my son said to me, "This is the first time I am having a music class. I never had any music in elementary, intermediate, nor high school." As a Senior about to graduate high school in a few weeks there is of course little to be done about this situation. I found this situation very disturbing as I spent 3 years in intermediate school, and 4 years in high school (both NYC public schools, sacrificing my lunch period several years) so that I could receive vocal music training, and enjoyed every minute of that time. The first question that came to my mind was, "Why have the children in public schools LOST so much of the diversity which had made public educations so great in years past. The vocal and instrumental music programs were GREAT experiences for the students, the schools, and the community. They were all positive and inspirational activities.

"It is not a new theory that there is a very strong link between music and mathematics and higher level thinking. So I applaud your efforts in trying to bring music back to the schools and students...While I attended a NYC Public high school, I was fortunate to receive tickets to the Met, on and off Broadway plays and other recitals. This was not only educational but also enjoyable.

"Brava to you and your continued efforts."

We are still receiving responses from those who came to the concert. One email that we just received from a Manhattan public school parent said: "Being able to see Tian Jiang perform at Carnegie Hall this past Tuesday was indeed a unique experience. Personally, with a background in piano myself, I was able to appreciate the difficulty of the pieces played and the accuracy and precision with which Jiang played them. It never fails to impress me how virtuoso pianists are able to memorize hours upon hours of music. Sitting in Zankel Hall and listening to him perform pieces from the most renowned classical composers was a well needed break from the pop music that society has immersed itself so much in. I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to attend such a wonderful concert."

On Thursday, we had a short but productive post-production with Carnegie Hall's award winning sound engineer Leszek Wojcek and a master CD of this concert is in hand. We anticipate being able to produce this CD within several weeks' time so that many people can hear this excellent, historic and unique concert performed by Tian Jiang, at the proper tuning, of great Classical masterpieces.