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LAHS's Presley Gao Performs Schumann Piano Concerto With New Mexico Philharmonic In Albuquerque

on May 3, 2016 - 12:05pm

Los Alamos High School freshman and pianist Presley Gao on stage to perform with the New Mexico Philharmonic April 24 in Albuquerque. Courtesy photo

Pianist Presley Gao of Los Alamos, left, with conductor Dr. Daniel Cummings at the reception after the concert. Courtesy photo

Pianist Presley Gao of Los Alamos with Jackie McGehee, left, founder of the competition, and his teacher Dr. Jacquelyn Helin at the reception after the concert. Courtesy photo

Staff Report

Los Alamos High School 9th grade student Presley Gao took the stage April 24 in the First United Methodist Church of Albuquerque to play the first movement of Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, with the New Mexico Philharmonic, under the direction of guest conductor Daniel Cummings.

Gao earned this prestigeous opportunity as the first place winner of the Jackie McGehee Young Artists’ Competition for Piano and Strings.

“…… Simply to play the notes of a concerto is no longer enough to win a competition even for young musicians. One must demonstrate not only technique but an understanding of the music well beyond one’s chronological age. Indeed, 13-year old Presley Gao, too, in performing the first movement of the Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 by Schumann, displayed a clear command of the instrument from the very opening chords. Dynamic when called upon to be, he also divulged a tender sense of lyricism, absolutely crucial to the very tuneful nature of the work. His playing had more of a presence than a mature professional player I heard in Santa Fe some years ago. Both players (with Sam Barrett, cello, from Santa Fe)received unanimous and highly vocal standing ovations. …….” (Albuquerque Journal, May 1, 2016).

Now Gao is excited and looks forward to his next performance with the New Mexico Philharmonic at 8 p.m., May 28 at the Rio Grande Zoo. He also hopes to play with the local symphony orchestra in Los Alamos in the near future.