Stunning song, peak performance
Senior Luke Arend plays Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39.
By Nick LaFrombois | Clarion Correspondent
Luke Arend waits patiently behind the heavy, grand golden double doors that stand stage right as the only barrier between him and a stunning performance. The stage, empty except for a Grand Piano and its bench. The stage lights beat down on Arend and his grey suit as he walks an awkwardly long distance to the grand piano placed at center stage. Benson Great Hall is silent. All eyes and ears open and ready to receive whatever bliss Arend is willing to give through his music. Arend sits down on a tiny black bench at the great grand piano by himself, ready to begin. No page turner. No pages. Just Luke. He sits for a couple seconds in silence, as the crowd waits earnestly in silence as well. The house wasn’t full, but each and every person in the house was staring Arend down, already engulfed in his presence. He begins.
He plays Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Immediately, the crowd is captured. During other performances, there were heads moving in the crowd checking phones, reading the program, or whispering to the person next to them. Not now. Every audience member can’t help but lock their eyes on Arend. The piece is in E-Flat Minor, a key meant to invoke pain, sorrow, sadness and nostalgia all in the same piece. Arend’s hands glide across the keys, effortlessly creating beauty. His body sways and winces with every movement of the piece, embodying the emotion the crowd is experiencing. Multiple small movements within the piece keep the crowd off guard, getting deeper, darker and more ominous as it continues.
Arend ends the piece with one singular, isolated note — and silence ensues. The crowd hesitates, processing, wondering, analyzing. Arend takes in a gulp of air, stands up, bows with both palms and feet together, and walks off stage. The stage is empty yet again, and the crowd patiently awaits whatever else lies behind those giant golden doors.