FAIRFIELD – Adrian Zaragoza has been listening to piano music since he was born.
“My mother played the piano when she was pregnant with me,” Zaragoza shared in an email.
The Davis teenager will help the Solano Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Semyon Lohss, begin its 35th season on October 10.
He plays “Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor” by Beethoven. Earlier, Zaragoza had delighted the orchestra’s audience with his performance as the winner of the Solano Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition.
There are challenges and joys in playing the piece.
It’s important to stay true to his classical style while staying true to the idea that this concert was very futuristic for its time, he said.
“It is a challenge to find the balance between interpreting this concerto as a late Classical work and as an early Romantic work,” wrote Zaragoza.
“There are also some technical passages that required additional practice, as sometimes Beethoven’s music doesn’t always feel good in the hands of the pianist (in terms of technical pianism), in terms of musical structure, musical ideas and timbres. I find his music very appealing and I also enjoy the technical challenges.”
Another challenge, but a very enjoyable one, is finding the tonal balance between piano and orchestra and also seeing how the piano and orchestra interact and react to each other, the teenager said.
“The progression of the piece fascinates me, from the grandeur and drama of the first movement, through the solemn lyricism of the second movement, to the eerily happy third movement,” he wrote.
“A friend of mine once told me that the third movement reminded her of Halloween and now that I’ve heard that I can’t get it out of my head, it just makes so much sense to me!”
The high school graduate got to know the piece as the main melody from the first movement, which he has known since childhood.
He grew up around the house listening to classical music. Today he plays this classical music.
“When I was a little older, I began to study the works of Beethoven more intensely, which led to my falling in love with his music, especially this piece,” he wrote.
He plans to study music and find a career as a professor, performer, or both.
Zaragoza started playing the piano when he was 4 years old.
He credits his mother and a cousin as his main inspirations for learning the instrument.
“I have several memories of listening to them play as a young child and thinking how great it must be to play the piano,” he wrote.
When Zaragoza was two years old, he went to the piano and began to find the sheet music of the famous theme Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
Last year he was invited to play at Carnegie Hall. Covid-19 has canceled the performance.
“I hope I’m lucky enough to have another opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall in the future,” he wrote.
“If I ever have the privilege of playing Carnegie Hall, I will be very happy as Carnegie Hall has great historical significance. It will be an honor to perform on the same stage with all my musical heroes.”
The restrictions caused by Covid-19 brought him some challenges on a musical and personal level. Zaragoza had to reconsider all of his musical plans for the next 18 months.
There were times when it was very devastating when opportunities were scrapped.
He made sure to engage with music in the virtual scene.
“I was still able to perform virtually and compete, which were very gratifying experiences,” Zaragoza wrote.
“I’ve also made many friends in the piano community as we all came together virtually during the pandemic through multiple online platforms created for high school-aged pianists during Covid-19.”
He finds it difficult to choose a favorite classical pianist.
His favorites include Martha Argerich, Mitsuko Uchida, Evgeny Kissin, Armen Babakhanian, Andras Schiff and Maurizio Pollin.
“I could go on and on about why I love the pianists above and why I love so many different pianists for so many different reasons, so I’ll try to narrow down why I love each of the pianists above.
“Argerich (her playing is very structured and full of joy), Uchida (all her music is so thoughtful and so personal, it’s a very satisfying mix of academic understanding, emotional dedication and personal trust and belief).
“Kissin (the power in his sound is unlike any other pianist I think, but he doesn’t sound aggressive, he sounds exciting and energetic); Babakhanian (the most beautiful, personal, authentic and individual pianist I have ever heard), Schiff (the clarity of his musical ideas is so intellectually stimulating and so emotionally touching), Pollini (the balance between his hands is so satisfying to listen to, a das piano played by Pollini becomes in his hands an instrument of its kind).
Zaragoza is looking forward to playing with the Solano Symphony for a second time.
“They play with so much energy and passion it’s contagious, all the members of the Solano Symphony are such great musicians and wonderful people. I look forward to meeting them again and performing together,” he wrote.
Zaragoza thanks his family and professors Richard Cionco and John McCarthy for their guidance and mentorship.
Fluent in English, French and Spanish, he remains deeply connected to his Spanish and South American heritage.
Outside of music, he enjoys swimming, biking, going to amusement parks, and spending time with his family, friends, and pets.
Catch the Zaragoza video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ7RwoIuv68.
At the start of the season, the Solano Symphony also presents Schubert’s Symphony No. 6 in C major, “Little C major”.
The Orchestra’s December and February programs confirm that life is returning to normal.
Excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet will again fill the hall for the holiday celebration, which will also include the sound of the solo mandolin in a performance of Hummel’s Mandolin Concerto performed by Dana Rath.
In the New Year, the annual Salute to Youth program welcomes exceptional student musicians ready to share their talent with a live audience, having pushed the boundaries of the virtual reality musicianship.
In March, the orchestra brings to life one of the finest works in the symphonic repertoire, the Symphony No. 2 in C minor by Tchaikovsky, known as the “Little Russia”, with the world’s greatest classics, bursting with Russian folk tunes and melodies musical color.
For those who revel in explosions of popular music bursting from the stage, the annual Pops concert in May presents energetic tunes from Vienna, Spain, England and Hollywood; everything from a rhythmic Strauss quadrille to music that captures the excitement of a James Bond adventure and the weirdness of Looney Tunes cartoons.
Opening night of the Solano Symphony