The Emerging Artist Series
Theme and Variations
451 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby
We were pleased to continue our Emerging Artist Series, now in its fourth year, on Sunday the 25th of March with performances by Sally Cao and a special guest of Theme & Variations, Simon Ghraichy. Gracing us with his expertise was Professor Michael Brimer whose adjudication of the performances is invaluable for the series’ participants.
Ms. Cao is a year 7 student at Pymble Ladies’ College. She is 11 years old and has been studying with Professor Margaret Hair since she was 6 years old. In her short performing career she has won eleven first prizes, ten of those being from the City of Sydney Eisteddfod. Her many honors and distinctions include: being chosen to play solos at the 9th Australian Piano Pedagogy Conference in Sydney, playing at the Japanese Consulate in 2010, playing a full recital for the Friends of the Sydney International Piano Competition, and playing in the Master Classes at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 2012. Guest Master teacher, Professor Perry said of Sally: “ She is an exceptionally talented pianist. She is intensely musical , and has a natural connection to the music especially for one so young.”
Mr. Ghraichy is professional pianist visiting from Paris. Simon studied with Michel Beroff and Daria Hovora at the Conservatoire National De Paris. He has performed with the Brazil Symphony Orchestra, State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, USiSA International music festival in South Africa, Exit Festival in Serbia, and the Isang Yun festival in South Korea. His distinctions include the Gyorgy Czifra Grand Prix from the Cziffra Foundation, prize at the BNDES International Piano Competition in Rio de Janero, and numerous others. He has received praise internationally from well-known media outlets such as DauphineLibere, Wall Street Journal, and Jornal Do Brasil.
Sally performed a sublime program which displayed both her technical prowess and profound understanding of the intricacies of the music she played. Her program consisted of Beethoven- Sonata Opus 2 No. 2 1st Movement, Liszt- The Fountains of Villa D’Este from Years of Pilgrimage, Chopin- Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Schumann- Arabesque in C major and Debussy- Reflections In Water. Her interpretation of the Chopin Ballade was very unusual – she made it sound almost impressionistic, which paved a perfect path to her performing the Debussy’s “Reflections in the water”. Sally is truly a unique young talent who will surely continue to impress her audiences more and more!
Simon’s program included some of the most dramatic compositions by Liszt ( Sarabandee and Chaconne from Handel’s Opera Almira and Sacred Dance and final duet from Verdi’s Aida, Albeniz (Eritana from Iberia Book IV), and Balakirev (Islamey: an Oriental Fantasy). As a performer Mr. Ghraichy has the unique ability to play each note with utter perfection while simultaneously utilizing his gift for an emotionally striking, powerful performance that was truly a spectacle, as well as a musical adventure. Simon showed himself not only as a true cosmopolitan, embracing the diversity of such varied musical origins, but also as a true master of the keys, as the notes morphed to his own cultural identity and made the pieces sound alive and vibrant.