Spring Concert Series: Marka Young and Alex Peh

Photo courtesy of flickr user bokehburger.

Calming, moving and suspenseful, the Spring Concert series continued with a performance of Marka Young (violin) and Alex Peh (piano) this past Tuesday at the Julien J. Studley Theatre. Young and Peh combined their talents in order to perform the works of late 19th century to early 20th century composers Claude Debussy and César Franck. In between the works of Debussy and Franck, Young performed Diablerie, a composition by the award winning composer Richard Wilson. 

After her solo performance of Wilson’s piece, Wilson stood and shook hands with Young and proceeded to bow, with the audience clapping and excited to see that the composer of the piece was present. Young, who is the director of the College Youth Symphony here at SUNY New Paltz, also works as an instructor at Vassar College along with Wilson. Inspired by his piece, Young decided to perform it because of the connection she believes they all have. 

“People tend to believe that people don’t do this anymore. That all these classical composers are dead,” Young said. “But this art form is very much alive and performing Richard’s work with him there proved that.”

The concert meant to link the works of Debussy, a French composer and prominent figure of impressionist music, and Belgium born Franck, a composer well-known for his cyclical composition technique. Franck was a great inspiration to Debussy, to the point where he modeled some of his musical forms after him. The Sonate performed Tuesday “nods to César Franck’s cyclical compositional technique, in that both the first movement and the last movements starts with the exact same theme in the violin line,” according to the night’s program. 

“I would say the theme amongst these works is invention,” Young noted. “Franck brought the prominence of the cyclical form and Debussy uses cyclical compositions but breaks the components of the music down.”

If you put them together, you know the history of the music of the time, she added. These composers shared the same space and whatever Debussy took from Franck, he made his own. 

These works in the classical world are considered especially difficult to perform. For this reason, this performance took about two months of intensive practice. Peh and Young would meet about once or twice a week to rehearse, they said.

The audience was focused and transfixed on Peh and Young’s performance.

“If the audience is very quiet, that means that they’re taking it in,” Young noted, describing the atmosphere to a tee.