Original work

Performance tells Beethovens life in music and dance

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

Years of diligent practice marks its presence as three young figures play effortlessly on a dim-lit stage.

The impressionable sounds of French composer Jule Massenet resonates through the Vacaville theater during rehearsals as violinists Kati Anderson, 17, and Lisa Anderson, 14, together with 16-year-old pianist Nathaniel Thorn, leave those listening mesmerized in their seats.

Artistic director Wanda Cook stands at stage right and smiles at her accomplished students.

'Beautiful,' she shouts after they finish their piece. 'That was just incredible!'

The teenagers are among a list of 31 young performers, including pianists, violinists, dancers and a vocalist and actor, who will be emulating the music of Ludwig Beethoven in Young Artists Conservatory of Musics 'Ludwigs Legacy' at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre at 7 p.m. today and Saturday.

Dont anticipate the white-knuckle experience that some parents undergo as they sit patiently and supportively while they wait for their child to perform in a music recital. Instead, this is a performance for the entire public, Cook says passionately, and the students are fully prepared for it.

'We really take the time to prepare students to perform in a professional style,' Cook says. 'We teach them to focus on the music and the composer, to not just know the music on autopilot.'

'Ludwigs Legacy' is an hour-and-a-half performance featuring jazz and popular classics during the first half followed by Beethoven in Act Two.

As Cook describes it, the latter half is telling the story of Beethoven his life, passion, deafness and wrestling with fate. It was written by the director herself, which was inspired by the Trans Siberian Orchestras rock version of a Beethoven medley.

'We tell the story of his early life and successes, battle with deafness, inability to fall in love and marry and his ultimate triumph in his compositions,' Cooks states of Beethoven. 'What he wrote has everything to do with what we hear today.'

For 16-year-old Thorn, who has been playing the ivories for 10 years, taking music lessons with Cook is more than following notes on a sheet of paper.

Less than a year ago, Thorn dove into a shallow part of Lake Hume in Fresno which left him with a broken neck. He realizes his ability to walk is a miracle, he says, but it was piano that helped to bring his hands back on track.

'It really helps my left hand because I damaged it when I took the dive,' he recalls. 'I had to take physical therapy and the piano playing helped get me back to normal strength.'

'Ludwigs Legacy,' a nonprofit production, is combining community efforts with students from Alina Adams, Fairfields Center Stage and the Vacaville Ballet Theatre Company. Dancers, choreographed by Sarah Hayward, will collaborate to help define the passion of Beethoven through physical movement and 'an incredible amount of energy.'