University of Pittsburgh

Kaitlin Mitchell on Performing Schumann’s Piano Concerto

Sophomore Kaitlin Mitchell performs Schumann's Piano Concerto with Pitts Orchestra tonight. Here are her thoughts about her experience with the piece. I first heard the Schumann Piano Concerto when I was in 8th grade, and have wanted to play it ever since. Practicing the piece on my own the past few months has been quite a challenge, but hearing it with the orchestra during rehearsal has made everything worthwhile. The solo and orchestra parts complement each other so well, and Schumann’s choice of orchestral instruments for each section always sounds perfect. This piece has a lot of conversation between the piano and the orchestra – the same theme can have completely different effects when the piano plays it, and then later when the clarinet does. The concerto’s movements themselves are also interesting to think about. Schumann originally wrote the first movement as an independent piece, and then later added the last two. I would have never guessed this simply from listening to the music – the movements fit together seamlessly. The first movement in A minor is both beautiful and exciting, and probably my favorite to play. The second movement is rather simple, which makes a nice contrast, and moves straight into the third movement without a pause. The third movement in A Major was the most difficult for me to learn – there are quick eighth note passages almost the entire time. Altogether the concerto is about a half hour long. I had never played anything this lengthy before, and doing so has been a real test of mental endurance. This is the first piece I have ever played with an orchestra, and hopefully it will not be my last. I am very excited for the opportunity to perform with my school’s ensemble, and to have this experience to share the music of one of my favorite composers. –KFM

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