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Seven Performers Take the Stage for Piano Fantasia

Lainey S. Cronk, October 14, 2009
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The second annual Piano Fantasia concert, hosted at Pacific Union College on October 11, honored noted philanthropist and Napa Valley arts patron Margrit Mondavi. It brought to the stage world-renowned pianists Daniel Glover and Thomas Hansen, internationally-recognized music prodigy Nathan Chan, dancer Jeraldine Mendoza from City Ballet School-San Francisco (who has been invited to finish her studies at the Bolshoi academy in Moscow), and violinist and PUC music professor Rachelle Berthelsen-Davis.

"I'm delighted to be back," said Glover, who also played at last year's inaugural event. "It's been a fantastic experience." Several pieces brought the audience to their feet, including the 15-year-old Chan's performance of a "classical crossover" piece by contemporary composer Mark Summer, "Julie-O," a cello solo that includes the use of the instrument as percussion as well as being played with and without the bow.

The event is a tribute to the music arts in the Napa Valley and the people who make it so rich. As PUC president Heather Knight said at the beginning of the program, this is an area celebrated for its arts culture, and as a Christian liberal arts college, PUC's role is "to add intellectual capital, spiritual capital, but certainly also cultural capital." Three key personalities who brought the event to fruition for the second year were Margrit Mondavi, honored by the concert as the "first lady of the Napa Valley"; Lillian Wu, long-time friend of the Mondavis and an arts events producer, who produced both Fantasia events; and David Tsao, a1999 PUC alumnus and musician who has been instrumental in PUC's "Pianos for Paulin Project."

When Wu shared a few words with the audience before the performances, she referred them to the world encyclopedia to see Margrit Mondavi's "contribution to every spectrum of the arts," adding how proud they were to present once again "some of the cream of the music society." She noted that the young musicians especially exemplify the high standard of musical excellence, with young performers from last year's concert going on to yet greater achievements. The hope of Piano Fantasia, she said, is that music majors at PUC will follow the path of these "standard bearers"… "particularly," she added, "if they possess quality instruments!" The event encouraged philanthropic participation in replacing the college's aging piano fleet so that piano students can pursue studies on quality pianos.

Napa residents who came to the concert enthused about the performances, saying they wished more people in their area were aware of the event. "This level of quality deserves more [recognition]," they said.

 Mondavi agreed: The musical talent displayed on stage "is really divine," she commented at the end of the concert. "Art makes us richer," she said. "It makes us appreciate."