After the scaled-down affair of last month's mostly-American concert, the Lexington Philharmonic closes its season Friday with two big Russian works.
Dmitri Shostakovich's cathartic Symphony No. 10 will close the concert that opens with Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, putting guest soloist Ran Jia at center stage.
Though she is only 22, center stage is a place Jia is used to.
A child prodigy and daughter of Chinese composer Daqun Jia, she started playing piano at age 3 and made her solo debut at age 7. That launched a career that has taken her around the world and put her under the tutelage of piano legend Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Before she got to Lexington, Jia took some time to answer a few of our questions via email.
Question: You started playing piano at age 3. When did piano start to become something you wanted to pursue as a career?
Answer: At the age of 8. My parents wanted me to play piano as a hobby, but after five years I strongly felt my connection with music, and one day I told them I want to be a professional pianist and I want to go to a music school.
Q: What attracted you to piano as opposed to other instruments?
A: What the instrument is capable of. With this one instrument you can create all the harmony and color in your imagination. It is like a whole orchestra.
Q: Your father is a composer. How influential was he in the development of your piano career, and in what ways did he influence you?
A: I am very glad that I have a father like that. He is the key to my music development. He was the one who introduced me to this beautiful instrument. When I was young, sometimes I would pick up some music analysis work from his students and without even realizing it, I gradually understood the structure of music, which I think is one of the most important things in making music.
Q: Do you play any of his music?
A: I would love to. I will be asking him to write me some pieces or a concerto in the near future.
Q: You are studying with one of the legends of piano, Gary Graffman. How did you come to work with him, and what are some of the most important things you have learned from him?
A: As you know, Curtis is one of the best music institutions in the world, and of course everyone wants to study with such a piano legend as Mr. Graffman. I am very honored that I could be his student for so many years. I think Mr. Graffman not only taught me how to play the piano technically, but also taught me how to make music emotionally and logically.
Q: Who are some of your biggest influences as a pianist?
A: Julius Katchen, Mitsuko Uchida, Alfred Brendel, Andras Schiff and William Kapell.
Q: You are performing the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Lexington Philharmonic. What are your thoughts on the piece in terms of what you like about playing it and what challenges it presents you as a pianist?
A: A well-known piece always presents great challenges, because you have to live up to expectations, which is never easy. But I think it is important to focus on the music and to stop thinking about what is expected.