Local residents, Aaron Orlick and Christian Hill performed their debut solo piano recitals on February 23rd at the Port Washington Public Library. Both pianists began their studies in 2006 at iSchool of Music & Art, which many say is a hidden treasure inside the unsuspecting professional building at 14 Vanderventer Avenue next door to CitiBank.
Aaron, 15, is a life long resident of Port Washington, and currently a student at Roslyn Middle School. He began his piano studies at iSchool when he was just 8 years old based on an attachment to keyboards and a LeapPad module about music. Aaron began studying with pianist and owner, Yi Qian, and currently studies classical piano with Guerguan Tsenov and jazz piano with Devin Bing.
Despite waking to a fever on Saturday morning which later subsided, Aaron was well prepared and performed wonderful renditions of classical piano music from Clementi, Chopin and Kuhlau during the first half of the well attended recital. After the intermission, Aaron showed his musical diversity by performing and singing jazz standards such as “Girl from Ipanema” and “Satin Doll” while accompanied by Ken Benshish, owner and director of iSchool of Music & Art, on drums.
Aaron’s exceptional performance is a terrific example of what one can accomplish given an opportunity and support. While iSchool provided Aaron the opportunity to learn piano when others were hesitant due to special needs, it was really the support of his parents and younger sister, Rebecca, which was a very important factor in his debut solo recital accomplishment. Aaron’s passion to learn piano, the support of his family and the skills and personalities of his teachers was the winning combination which made a very proud memory for his entire family.
The second debut solo recital of the day was by Christian, 13, who is also a life long resident of Port Washington and a student at Weber Middle School. He asked his mother for piano lessons at age 6 but had to settle on starting at age 6½. Christian too began his studies with Yi in 2006 and currently studies with Guerguan also.
The audience of approximately 75 people had the feeling of a family reunion to celebrate and support Christian’s debut solo performance. Christian amazed us with his beautiful touch on Schubert’s Impromptu in E flat Major as well as other pieces by Mozart, Haydn and Chopin. He closed his recital with an energetic version of The Cat and The Mouse by Copland. Christian often is the exclamation point at the end of iSchool student recitals and it was impressive to hear successive exclamation points within his 45 minute performance.
Christian took a moment at the recital’s end to give a thoughtfully worded thank you to his parents, brother, teachers, Ken and Yi. It was very touching to see his younger brother, Justin, who is also a long-time student at iSchool, run up to him as he stepped off stage to give him a big hug and say how proud he was of him. His grandfather was also in attendance and said he often enjoys listening to Christian play for him over the phone. It’s really wonderful to see all the support that both Christian and Aaron receive from their family and friends.
Being the co-owner and director of iSchool along with Yi, I have seen Aaron and Christian mature over the years and the pride I have for them is beyond words. I can only imagine the pride their parents feel is even more rewarding than that of a major championship. Aaron and Christian are both champions and I look forward to their future accomplishments.