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Pianist Wayne Ching joins New Horizons Orchestra in season’s opening concert

Pianist Wayne Ching

An interview with pianist Wayne Ching and conductor Jorge Martinez-Rios

Pianist Wayne Ching first encountered Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto No. 5 as a child and he has had something of an obsession – his word – with it ever since. “I can remember that my very first cd that I ever owned – I think I bought it when I was seven or six – was a recording of this concerto, played by pianist Krystian Zimerman, a famous Polish pianist and conducted by Leonard Bernstein,” he told KRWG host Leora Zeitlin in a Zoom interview. “This piece has been there for most of my life.”

Chang went on to study piano in Taiwan, where he spent most of his childhood, got serious about music in high school in the United States, and now is a professional pianist living in San Antonio. This weekend, he’ll perform his beloved Emperor Concerto with the New Horizons Symphony Orchestra under the direction of NHSO conductor Jorge Martinez-Rios.

Martinez-Rios and Ching met a few years ago through the Classical Music Institute in San Antonio, where they have performed a number of chamber music works together. “Reading about the story of this concerto,” Martinez-Rios said in this interview, “we learn that amazing composers like Mendelssohn and Liszt played this concerto many, many times during their lives. And then knowing that, as decades and centuries go by, we have the opportunity to bring it alive one more time – that is precious.”

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Listen to the full interview to hear Ching and Martinez-Rios discuss the concerto in greater depth, including the bold innovations that Beethoven made in composing it. The program also includes “Night on Bald Mountain,” by Modest Mussorgsky, and two Slavonic Dances by Antonin Dvorak. The concert takes place this Sunday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. at the Atkinson Recital Hall on the NMSU campus, and is free of charge.

Clips from the concerto embedded in the interview are taken from the recording that Ching loved as a child: Krystian Zimerman plays Beethoven’s 5 Piano Concertos, Leonard Bernstein conducts the Vienna Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon, #435467).