‘Romantic Cellos’ will test new acoustics of Presbyterian Church in Morristown, April 14

'Romantic Cellos' come to the Presbyterian Church in Morristown. Top left: Nan-Cheng Chen; bottom left, Ari Evan; right, Hai-Ye Ni, principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
'Romantic Cellos' come to the Presbyterian Church in Morristown. Top left: Nan-Cheng Chen; bottom left, Ari Evan; right, Hai-Ye Ni, principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra.


Last month, bagpipes and brass tested the renovated sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown.

This weekend, it will be Romantic Cellos.

“It is my hope that the cello will sing beautifully in the vaulted space of the sanctuary, ably joined in concert with one of the greatest pianists in the world,” said Matt Webb, musical director for the church.

He referred to Hai-Ye Ni, principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and pianist Min Kwon, founder of the Center for Musical Excellence.

They will perform on Sunday, April 14, 2019, at 3 pm, with young cellists Nan-Cheng Chen and Ari Evan.  Tickets are $30; free, for students 18 and under.

Kwon, a Harding resident, happened to stop by the sanctuary last year as it was undergoing a $1.5 million transformation. The chancel has been expanded to accommodate large choirs and orchestras, audio and lighting systems have been upgraded, carpets are new, and the majestic ceiling has received structural enhancements for safety.

Even the church’s 1915 Steinway B piano that Kwon will play has received an overhaul.

Webb gave Kwon and her husband a tour that day. They were impressed.

“Min was very gracious and very interested in having some of the Center for Musical Excellence’s Music Made Here concert series at the church,” Webb said.

The Shanghai-born Ni and Kwon, who met in 1989 at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine, together will perform César Franck’s Sonata in A major.

“This piece, originally written for violin in 1886, beautifully highlights the rich yet subtle sound of the cello and its tonal capabilities, and has been performed and recorded by many cellists since the great cellist Leonard Rose transcribed it for the cello in 1958,” Kwon said in a statement.

The pair reunited at the Juilliard School soon after the then-18-year-old Ni won the Naumburg International Cello Competition. The cellist also was a prizewinner at the Tchaikovsky International Cello Competition in Moscow, and won the Associate Principal position in the New York Philharmonic as the youngest member of the cello section.

Ni and Kwon have performed recently at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia, honoring Wolfgang Sawalich, the late Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Cellists Evan, a recent Juilliard graduate, and Chen, who is from Taiwan, will perform Paul Tortelier’s Spirales, melodies by Gabriel Fauré  and the rarely-heard Sonata for two cellos in G major by Jean-Baptiste Barrière.

And don’t be surprised if three cellos and a piano pay a classical tribute to another Fab Four…

A champagne reception will follow Sunday’s concert, at 57 E. Park Place.

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