The UConn Symphony Orchestra’s final concert of the year will be this Thursday, April 27th at 8:00pm in von der Mehden Recital Hall. The concert is called “Star Crossed Lovers,” and features music by Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Chopin. We sat down with special guest artist Dr. Angelina Gadeliya, a first year piano professor at the University of Connecticut, to chat about her experience transitioning to UConn and her process working with the UConn Symphony for this upcoming performance.
Q: Congratulations on your move to UConn as a new professor this past school year! Could you tell us a little bit about your journey before coming here and why you chose UConn?
“UConn has a wonderful atmosphere, and the students have a great energy and a wonderful enthusiasm … I’m blessed to be a part of such a strong music department.”
A: I was born in Sukhumi, Georgia where I began my musical studies at the age of five. I did most of my schooling in States – I studied at the Oberlin Conservatory, the Juilliard School, Mannes College, CU Boulder, and also hold a Doctorate from Stony Brook University. While working on my doctorate, I spent three years as a member of Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie Hall with the purpose of bringing high level classical music to NYC public schools, and performing regularly on the subscription series at Carnegie Hall as well as at the Juilliard School. We then formed an alumni ensemble known as Decoda. We do a lot of interactive performances and international projects. This coming fall we’re planning to go on a concert tour of South Korea. When I completed my three year residency at Carnegie Hall, I went to teach at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. This job opening at UConn came at the perfect time, as I wanted to be closer to NYC so I could continue playing with Decoda and be an active part of the NYC music scene once again. I’m very happy with my decision to relocate here. UConn has a wonderful atmosphere, and the students have a great energy and a wonderful enthusiasm about them. Similarly, the faculty has a youthful, vibrant energy as well and are a constant inspiration to me. It’s a great community to be apart of, and I’m blessed to be a part of such a strong music department.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: I love seeing my students grow and develop their own voices as artists. Finding that joy in connecting with the music and connecting with an audience is what we’re constantly striving for as a studio. We had our first annual piano project on April 23rd, “A Night in Paris,” and it was a program of french music (music of Debussy, Ravel, Milhaud and Piazzolla). All of the piano students in the studio worked very hard towards that project. We had a turn out of about two hundred people, which was an unexpectedly large audience for this time of year with finals approaching. Just to see the trajectory of their progress from the beginning of the year to now is very rewarding. They all sound like different pianists compared to when we started working together last August. To see their confidence and technique grow is thrilling.
Q: What piece will you be performing on the Star Crossed Lovers program?
“It’s one of my absolute favorite concertos to play because of the sublime romantic melodies and the passion and genius of nineteen year old Chopin.”
A: I’ll be performing Frederic Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto in F minor, Op. 21 with the UConn Symphony. It’s a work that Chopin composed when he was only nineteen years old. He was still living in Warsaw, Poland and was about to move to Paris, France. He wrote it to showcase his talent as a composer and pianist, and it’s an incredibly virtuosic work. It’s also a very passionate piece inspired by his first love, Constantia Gladowska, a beautiful young soprano at the Warsaw Conservatory. The second movement of this concerto contains indescribable beauty. It’s a vision of him being in love, and it’s really a musical portrait of Constantia. It’s one of my absolute favorite concertos to play because of the sublime romantic melodies and the passion and genius of nineteen year old Chopin. If there’s a way to compose about being in love, this piece is it. I also feel connected to the piece due to my Polish roots. Although I was born in Georgia (the country), my first language was Polish since my mother is Polish, and even when we moved to the States, my family managed to stay connected to our Polish roots. Playing Chopin is always very special to me because I feel spiritually and culturally connected to him.
Q: What was the process of preparing for the performance this Thursday?
A: I proposed this piece to the conductor of the UConn Symphony Orchestra, Professor Harvey Felder, last summer and based on the type of orchestra we have we decided this would be a good choice. As for our preparation, I met with Professor Felder prior to coming in to rehearse with the orchestra. I played through the piece for him and we discussed tempos and places we need to coordinate. The orchestra and I practice separately before we meet for our rehearsals together. There is a lot of adjusting that needs to happen, they have to get used to me and I have to get used to the way they’re playing it. There is limited rehearsal time, so it’s definitely a challenge.
Q: Do you feel as though the music department gets enough support from the UConn student body?
“Music students know what’s happening but other departments’ students are often unaware of the opportunities to hear amazing music here for free.”
A: We get a lot of support within the School of Fine Arts, but I wish we could get more exposure within the other schools at UConn. It’s always a challenge within such a large university where there are so many events going on. Music students know what’s happening but other departments’ students are often unaware of the opportunities to hear amazing music here for free. Speaking of free events, some of the UConn faculty and I are performing A Concert of Chamber Music by Ludwig van Beethoven on Sunday, April 30th at 3pm in von der Mehden Recital Hall. More information can be found at music.uconn.edu. That will officially be my final concert this year, so you’ll have just one other chance to see me perform!
And in case you missed it. Here is the UConn Symphony Orchestra in rehearsals for the April 27th performance, with a special cameo from Jonathan!
UConn’s Symphony Orchestra will be performing Star Crossed Lovers on Thursday, April 27 at the von der Mehden Recital Hall. The performance will begin at 8:00 pm. From Tchaikovsky’s unique interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, to Bernstein’s rendering of West Side Story, and everything in between, this concert will skillfully elicit audience emotion and utter captivation.