The Asheville Young Musicians Club presented their Fifth Annual Benefit Concert at Bent Creek Baptist Church in Asheville on Sunday afternoon. The event, co-sponsored by the Asheville Chamber Music Series and the Asheville Area Piano Forum, supports music education in Western North Carolina and village education in Nicaragua through Vision Nicaragua. The four previous concerts raised more that $10,000. This year’s concert included six pieces of chamber music, all delivered with insight and aplomb.

The concert opened with the first movement of Moritz Moszkowski‘s Suite for Two Violins and Piano in G minor, Op. 71, performed by Kristie Kim and Myles McKnight (violins) along with Christopher Tavernier (piano). The piano part is somewhat of a “finger buster,” but fifteen-year-old Tavernier was up to the task. The three showed excellent rapport and the needed passion in this thoroughly romantic 1903 composition. 

Next came Grace Kim and Tavernier playing the flute and piano arrangement of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, Op. 34, No.14. They chose the perfect tempo, scrupulously observed the accelerandos and ritardandos that the score indicates, and produced the beautiful color that makes this work so popular.

The final movement from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Quartet, K. 478, brought to the stage Katelyn Hammel (violin), Abigail Weirich (viola), Aaron Chen (cello) and Alyes Chen (piano). This Rondo is very familiar music, but was realized afresh in the hands of these young people. The cellist is an eighth grader with a fine technique, and we can look forward to hearing him again.

Dr. Hwa-Jin Kim is adjunct professor of piano at UNC-Asheville and the mother of Grace Kim and Kristie Kim, the two young people who founded the Asheville Young Musicians Club. Dr. Kim has arranged Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the film The Mission so that the three family members could play together. This is a very solid composition, and deserves to be a staple in the limited repertoire of chamber works for flute, violin and piano.

Antonin Dvořák wrote his String Quartet No.12, Op. 96, in sixteen days during a summer vacation in the Czech-settled village of Spillville, Iowa. It is known as the “American Quartet,” despite there being little about the work that couldn’t just as easily be called Slavonic. The one American quotation is the song of the scarlet tanager, which doesn’t exist in Bohemia. The happy final movement of this quartet was performed by Myles McKnight and Katelyn Hammel (violins), Abigail Weirich (viola) and Aaron Chen (cello). There were a few moments when the intonation wasn’t perfect (blame it on their youth) but they had the spirit and the energy just right.

The highlight of this concert was the final work. Kristie Kim (violin), Anne Gerhardt (cello) and Kiffen Loomis (piano) gave a fiery, polished and totally mature performance of the final movement (Allegretto) of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 73. To give this interpretation, the musicians must have internalized the agony of Shostakovich’s long-standing battle to retain his artistic integrity in the face of state criticism of his music and demands that he write “Soviet Realistic Music.” In their fine performance, these three talented young musicians showed that rising above the prejudices and atrocities of this raucous and violent world, great music will eternally lift our spirits.

Five of the ten young musicians on Sunday’s program are now twelfth-graders, so this may be the last time we will see all of them together as “Young Musicians.” We hope some will return from their universities and conservatories to join the three younger musicians performing on this concert and other students passionate about chamber music who may be added to the Club.