"From the Top" comes to WSU

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Chad Hoopes, a soloist with "From the Top," performs during a radio broadcast taping.
Weber State University will play host this week to National Public Radio’s From the Top, a showcase for young classical musicians.

The popular traveling radio show, based primarily out of Boston, will be taping a broadcast Thursday night in the Browning Center’s Austad Auditorium. Hosted by internationally acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley, the NPR program gives classical musicians aged 8-11 a chance to play with other like-minded young individuals.

O’Riley, who appeared at WSU last September with cellist Matt Haimowitz, serves as interviewer, accompanist and musical director for the program, which is distributed to 250 public radio stations across the country and has an average weekly following of 700,000 listeners. Each weekly broadcast features five young soloists or small groups, and the program is made up of performances by the musicians interlaced with O’Riley’s interviews.

Thursday night’s show will feature five acts, including three performers with local roots. Trenton Chang, a 14-year-old pianist from Logan, Utah, will be performing Maurice Ravel’s “III. Anime” from the Sonatine, a fast-paced piece filled with complicated rhythms and spots where the hands play in conflicting places.

The Midnight Duo, composed of a pair of students from Salt Lake City’s Gifted Music School, will perform the finale from Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35. The young local students are Aubree Oliverson, a 13-year-old violinist from Orem, Utah, and Anastasia Magamedova, a 14-year-old pianist from Murray, Utah, who was also a winner of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, a $10,000 scholarship given by From the Top to young musicians.

Also featured in the performance will be Hannah Urias, a soprano aged 18, from McAllen, Texas, who will perform the famous piece “Quando m’en vo” from Puccini’s La Boheme. Following Urias are Nicholas Tisherman, a 17-year-old oboe player from Katonah, N.Y., and the Meshugene Quartet, a string quartet based out of Illinois’ Midwest Young Artists, an organization which trains and supports young musicians.

The broadcast taping will air nationally during the week of April 2, 2012, and locally on April 6 and 8.

From the Top at Carnegie Hall, a television program based on the radio series, has since been developed. The Emmy-nominated PBS series, which is also hosted by O’Riley, is more of a backstage look at the making of the radio program, and delves deeper into the lives, work ethics and passions of the teenage musicians.