Monday, February 17, 2020

Roger Xia in Conversation with Christian Baldini

Pianist and violinist Roger Xia will be our soloist for Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto on Saturday, February 22 with the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento. I had the opportunity of asking Roger some questions, and below are the answers.

Christian Baldini: Roger, it is a pleasure to welcome you back once again with the Camellia Symphony Orchestra. Some years ago, you were our featured "Rising Star", performing concertos on both the violin and the piano. It is so nice to see how much you have developed since those days, and what a mature musician you have become already. Please tell us, what is special to you about performing in the Sacramento and Davis region, where you grew up?

Roger Xia: The Sacramento/Davis region is where I feel most at home and I always love performing for friends and family. I frequently reconnect with old friends, both musicians and non-musicians, at my performances and it’s a joy to catch up with them about our busy lives and future plans. Most of all, I absolutely enjoy inspiring younger children to play classical music, just as I had been inspired and supported by the community.

CB: Tell us about the Clara Schumann Piano Concerto. What is inspiring to you about her? What are some of the features and musical elements that you like the most about this concerto, and what should people listen for while you play it?

RX: For me, the most inspiring element of Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto is her boldness in incorporating a variety of styles. Some lyrical passages resemble Chopin, while other feisty, technical passages remind me of Liszt. I also like the attacca between the 3 movements of the concerto; the continuation gives the piece a nice flow and creates an unfolding storyline. I hope the audience will enjoy the affirmative and lyrical solo lines in the first movement, the intimate duet with the cello in the second, and the improvisatory, gypsy-like flair in the last movement.

CB: At your young age you've already collaborated with and worked with many wonderful musicians and teachers. Are there any experiences or people that have been particularly inspiring to you?

RX: I’m very fortunate to have started piano lessons with Linda Beaulieu when I was five, and to have continued to study with Dr. Natsuki Fukasawa and professor Richard Cionco for ten years. I’m also grateful to Dong Ho for starting me off on violin when I was six and William Barbini for teaching me during the past seven years. I’d also like to thank Maryll Goldsmith and Michael Neumann for their guidance when I was in the Sacramento Youth Symphony. Many thanks to teachers and staff members at the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College for continuously helping me develop my artistic potential. I’m also very thankful to Susan Lamb Cook’s continued support in my chamber music learning, Angelo Moreno at my school orchestra coaching. All of these mentors and supporters have inspired me to pursue my lifetime music-making journey.

CB: Why is art important? What is the role of music (and specifically, classical music) in today's world?

RX: Art is something that is unique to humans; it cannot be replaced by robots or AI. It is the most direct expression of the human soul, incorporating kindness, pain, tenderness, ecstasy, and more endless emotions. Music serves as a universal language, an outlet for all these kinds of emotions. As the only audible art form without words, music helps to connect people across the globe with all sorts of backgrounds and portray relatable experiences. Classical music is very unique in the way that it developed alongside music theory and incorporates sophisticated forms like symphonies and operas.

CB: Please tell us about your plans, dreams and wishes for your future. You have managed to continue your remarkable development on both the violin and the piano. What other passions do you have? And now that you will soon embark on your college career, what would you like to do?

RX: In addition to violin and piano, I really enjoy playing tennis and practicing Kung-Fu. moving my body around and breaking a sweat is also a great way for me to clear my mind and serves as a nice break from the academic and musical grind. Every winter, I also go to Lake Tahoe to ski as a mini-vacation with friends and family.
In college, I plan to continue playing piano and violin and participate in chamber music and orchestra ensembles. I’m also really interested in science and would like to simultaneously study academics at a university. Ultimately, I hope to combine music with science to help others.

CB: Thank you so much for your time, and we wish you all the best in your future, which will undoubtedly be remarkable. We look forward to sharing your astonishing talent with our audience very soon.

RX: Thank you Maestro Baldini and the Camellia Symphony Orchestra for inviting me back, and I’m looking forward to another great collaboration and performance!

Roger Xia, Photo by Carlin Ma

Roger Xia, Photo by Carlin Ma

Roger Xia, age 17, a senior at Davis Senior High School (DSHS), is also a San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) Pre-College scholarship student.                                                                                                                                  

         Roger started piano studies at age 5 with Ms. Linda Beaulieu and continues with Dr. Natsuki Fukasawa and Professor Richard Cionco.  He took violin lessons at age 7 with Mr. Dong Ho and continues with Mr. William Barbini.  At age 10, Roger made his Carnegie Hall debuts as first prize winner of the American Fine Arts Festival (AFAF) Golden Era of Romantic Music International Competition and the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition.  He won top prizes in Pacific Musical Society (PMS), Music Teacher Association of California (MTAC), United States Open Music Competition (USOMC), CMTANC/USIMC International Youth Music Competition, Diablo Valley College Competition (DVC), Sylvia Ghiglieri Piano Competition, and Classical Masters Music Competition, etc.  As the youngest participant in all three age groups, Roger was awarded the memorial scholarships sponsored by the MTAC Sacramento branch (2010, 2014, and 2017).  He also performed at the Junior Bach Festival, Bear Valley Music Festival, Orfeo International Music Festival, InterHarmony International Music Festival, and joined the National Youth Orchestra (NYO-USA) in the summer of 2019.  Roger won the 2015 Mondavi Young Artist Competition Pianist and Bouchaine Young Artists Prizes and was featured on the 2016 From the Top show 322.  He is also the National Young Arts Foundation merit award winner (2018) and honorable mention winner (2020) of Classical Music.  Roger played as a soloist with the Merced Symphony Orchestra (2010), Sacramento Youth Symphony (SYS) Premier Orchestra and Central Valley Youth Symphony (CVYS) Orchestra (2014), UCD Symphony Orchestra (2016), as well as the Palo Alto Philharmonic and Camellia Symphony Orchestra (2017). He was the winner of the DSHS Concerto Competition in 2018 and performed as a violin soloist with the DSHS Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in the summer of 2018. Roger is also the winner of the 2019 San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) Concerto Competition and played as a piano soloist at Davies Symphony Hall with the orchestra in the fall of 2019.
         Roger has also been studying chamber music with Susan Lamb Cook, William Barbini, Natsuki Fukasawa, Aenea Keyes, Doris Fukawa, Gwendolyn Mok, Temirzhan Yerzhanov, and Angelo Moreno.  He is a violinist and founding member of the SFCM Pre-College Division ensemble Locke Quartet, which won second prize in the 2019 ENKOR competition.  Roger has also attended the prestigious Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) Summer String Quartet Workshop in 2017.  His chamber music groups in the Davis-Sacramento area won top places at USOMC (2013), Classical Masters Music Festival (2013), and VOCE competition of MTAC (2013 and 2015).  These groups have been frequently invited to perform at senior residences in the Sacramento and Davis area.  Roger has been the concertmaster of SFSYO for the past three seasons and the Europe Performance Tour in the summer of 2019.  He is the current concertmaster of the DSHS Symphony Orchestra.  He was also the concertmaster of the Holmes Junior High (HJH) Orchestra (2014-2017), the California Orchestra Directors Association (CODA) Honor Symphony Orchestra (Nov. 2016), and the SYS Premier Orchestra (2013-2015) and Classic Orchestra (2010-2011).
         Aside from music, Roger enjoys science, math, reading, and movies.  He also likes swimming, skiing, and Kung-Fu, as well as playing tennis, Ping Pong, and soccer.  Most of all, he loves sharing music-making experiences with friends in the community.

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