Alexander Wu at the Montauk Library

by Patria Baradi Pacis

On Sunday, November 6, Program Director Carolyn Balducci welcomed Yamaha Piano Artist, Alexander A. Wu, to a newly built, state-of-the-art, renovated Montauk Library. My husband and I were glad to see him back after four years of being absent and surprised that he still remembered our names.

Mr. Wu opened by playing an unknown piece called “Mademoiselle: Premiere Audience” by the brilliant, composer, conductor and mentor of many 20th century composers, the French, Russian, and most sought after Nadia Boulanger.  Mr. Wu also played works of the artists that Miss Boulanger mentored during her long career such as her younger sister, Lily Boulanger, the first female winner of the Prix de Rome composition prize, who she felt inferior to. The audience were provided a list of about 180 other composers and musicians that studied under Ms. Boulanger, such as Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, Quincy Jones, George Gershwin, Astor Piazzolla and Burt Bacharach.

What I enjoyed about Mr. Wu’s, one hour program that was extended to another half hour,  was that he explained each piece’s background and the reason of what the artist’s was trying to say, before playing. I was in awe of his talent especially for someone who cannot read music, nor play an instrument.

When this reporter asked what the musical style of Ms. Boulanger’s music, was during the Q and A portion of the program, Mr. Wu answered that she made an effort not to impose any style on others, so that her students would find their own.

The piece de resistance of the program was Mr. Wu’s gift to the audience of playing the full gambit of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue.” It was interesting to note that the experiment in modern music piece was influenced by Mr. Gershwin’s train rides to New York City and its many different noises, the hustle and bustle, the sights, the chaos and sounds, he encountered along the way. I was doubly surprised that the ten minute piece was written in only one week.

Mr. Wu, a California native but now lives in Manhattan has performed on International stages as a soloist with orchestra and a chamber player. His stellar performance that afternoon received a standing ovation from the audience. I made a point to tell him, that he had vastly improved, since he played at the Library 15 years ago.  We both laughed.

The Montauk Library programs are supported, in part, by funds provided by The Friends of the Montauk Library. Kudos to Carolyn for bringing such wonderful concerts to Montauk.