First Night revelers whet their taste for the classics


To their enduring credit, the moguls of First Night never assumed that classical music would be boring to New Year's revelers, and three years of enthusiastic audiences have borne out their judgment.

First Night '93 should prove no exception as two concert pianists, an exceptional cellist, a Renaissance consort, a woodwind quintet and choral ensembles of every size and specialty will be in the downtown area for Annapolis' annual celebration of the performing arts.

Bombarded at every turn by the message that Nintendo, MTV andthe general dumbing down of America are conspiring to render their art form extinct, the musicians are thrilled and a bit surprised by the adulation they've received from First Night audiences.

"At first, I was very surprised by the large turnout for classical piano," says Jenny Lin, who has attracted crowds at St. Mary's Church during the last two First Nights. "I am very happy about the popular response we get."

She will move to the Chaplains' Center at the Naval Academy's Mitscher Hall this year to perform programs she hopes the audience will find "listenable."

The Second Sonata of Scriabin and Chopin's E-flat Polonaise will be balanced by a transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov's hyperactive "Flight of the Bumblebee" and Bach's much-loved "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

McDowell Great Hall at St. John's College will be the site of three performances by cellist Pansy Chang, while the Treasury Building will be filled with the sounds of the Atlantic Winds quintet.

Angelin Chang, a 25-year-old piano virtuoso who has won top honors at top competitions the world over, is the this year's keyboard rookie.

She looks forward to her recital at St. Mary's of Haydn, Bach, Tchaikovsky and Liszt and is excited about the prospect of meeting a different public than she's used to.

"This is such a great thing because you can reach people who maybe don't ordinarily go to recitals," she says. "It can mean a lot for a performer to have the exposure to reach various kinds of people."

And reach them they do. "One lady hunted me down six months after First Night so I could record a tape for her husband's birthday present," Ms. Lin recalls. "I guess they enjoyed my playing."

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