Chip Minemyer | Seek out hidden talent in your midst

December 9, 2012 

As a high school senior, John Livingston blew my mind with Gershwin.

Saturday night, he did so again with Schubert in his junior recital at Penn State’s School of Music.

Those of us who live in Centre County often go about our lives unaware of the amazing young people moving around the University Park campus.

If they play football or basketball, we might know their names. But what of the musicians, scholars, artists and others who are in our midst?

They’re largely anonymous, despite world-class aspirations and talents. That’s unfortunate.

Livingston is a beast on piano. And you can find performers in voice and on various instruments in the School of Music’s recital schedule at music.psu.edu.

Last week, seniors Erica Wilt and Brooke Miller gave clarinet recitals, and senior soprano vocalist Amanda Jones performed the works of Handel, Scarlatti and others.

The school has showcased its jazz and percussion ensembles among its early December concerts.

Today you can hear Schreyer Honors student Katie Carpenter’s vocal recital at 7 p.m. in Room 122 of Music Building II, or senior Nikolai Balashow’s performance on strings at 8 p.m. in Esber Recital Hall in Music Building I.

Other recitals will be held before the semester ends. And you can watch for more in the spring. The recitals are generally free and open to the public.

Livingston’s play list included selections from “Piano Sonata in A minor” by Franz Schubert, “Fantasia on an Ostinato” by John Corigliano and other powerful pieces.

He spread word in advance of his show with a special Facebook page.

I first met the young man when he was my daughter’s classmate at Westmont Hilltop High School in suburban Johnstown. He was a top-flight swimmer, sang in the chorus, played flute in the band and carried the lead role in their musical production of “West Side Story.”

But it was when seated at a piano that he truly amazed, pounding out Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the full band during a spring concert.

His chorus director, Beth Good, called him “a unique confluence of many, many talents” and a musical “monster.”

And like many other young people, Livingston brought those talents to Penn State with little fanfare. Here’s hoping you get the chance to hear John perform during his time in this community. This was his junior recital, after all.

And here’s hoping you’ll find time to seek out music and stage performances, art or design shows and research presentations by other talented Penn State students.

Chip Minemyer is the executive editor of the Centre Daily Times. He can be reached at 231-4640. Follow him on Twitter @MinemyerChip.

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