BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT
Classical pianist Jun Luke Foster dazzled an audience at Valley Cottage Library on April 2 as part of the library’s Young Masters recital series.
Before describing the details of Foster’s highly successful performance, I will first share with our readers his impressive background starting with his education at Yale University, where he graduated summa cum Laude in 2014. He won a string of first prize awards in piano competitions, including one international piano competition. Although Foster is only 24-years-old, I strongly believe he will soon be recognized as a major concert pianist both nationally and internationally.
In the first half of his program at the Young Masters recital, Foster opened with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonato No. 17 in D Minor, Opus 31, No. 2, also known as “The Tempest.” He prefaced the performance with an audience discussion to give listeners a better understanding of what Beethoven was trying to convey in this major sonata. Foster’s performance, both technically flawless and played with great sensitivity, was greeted by thunderous applause from crowd of 75 or so persons.
The second and last piece of the first half of the program was Frederick Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2 in B Flat Minor, Opus 31, which came as a shock to this writer since the article “Rockland Pianist who Escaped Nazis to be Acclaimed in Germany” that I penned for the February 16 edition of the Rockland County Times was based upon that Rockland pianist (Ludmilla Berkwic) performing that exact same Chopin scherzo at the opening of the first-ever Chopin Museum in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. What a coincidence!
Due to my familiarity with this particular composition I can assure our readers that Foster played it magnificently. The audience offered a standing ovation for Foster as the Chopin piece ended and a 10-minute intermission began.
The second half of the concert started with a piece composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff “Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Opus 42.” Foster prefaced his performance with a most informative explanation on the genesis of the very beautiful, haunting melody upon which Rachmaninoff’s intricate variations were based. The performance was again greeted with thunderous applause from the appreciative audience.
The last piece of the program was a pleasant surprise to all in attendance since it was composed by none other than Jun Luke Foster himself, who recently completed his Master of Music degree at the famous Juilliard School. It is very rare for a classical pianist to bring his own composition to a concert. The piece, named “Nevertheless,” was a prime example of his composing skills and earned Foster the same positive response from the audience as those he performed that were composed by history’s greats.
The Valley Cottage audience chased after Jun Luke immediately after his performance, expressing their great appreciation in a way reminiscent of teenagers chasing after “rock stars.”