On Key with Kaki Su ’19

Photo by Donessa Colley/The Choate News

Photo by Donessa Colley/The Choate Newsar

Pianist Kaki Su ’19 and her friend violinist Annett Ho ’18 dazzled the Choate community with their Franck Sonata in A Major duet during the school meeting on Wednesday, October 12.  Immediately after the last note played, the entire audience stood up, applauding the two students with exuberant whoops and cheers, and the performers bowed to the entire school in pride, gratitude, and slight relief.

It was Su who came up with the idea to perform a duet during a school meeting, and the outstanding show was the product of hours of hard work. “Annett and I have been practicing a lot before the performance — almost every weekday since the beginning of school. After orchestra practice, we stayed in the Paul Mellon Arts Center (PMAC),” said Su. “This piece wasn’t that hard technically, but musically, there were so many possible interpretations. I also had to match with Annett, which is very hard.”

“Matching” refers to the interaction between the two musicians that enables them to make a piece of music their own; it is the interplay between two instruments that makes each performance unique. “We talk and listen and discuss what we think. We keep eye contact and even watch each other’s breathing,” said Su.

Su has been playing the piano for more than 12 years, having started at the age of four. She visits Yale University twice a month to get lessons.

Su, to the dismay of Orchestral and Jazz Ensemble Director Mr. Phil Ventre, is not enrolled in the Arts Concentration program. “I applied to the program during freshman winter, but right after the audition, I decided that I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do sports, even though I wasn’t very good at them. When I came to Choate, it wasn’t piano that I wanted to focus on. If that were the case, I would have applied to a conservatory. I wanted to experience the different aspects of Choate and playing sports was one of them,” Su continued, “Mr. Ventre wasn’t very happy about that at first, but he understands because I still perform with chamber music groups,” laughed Su, “It works out really well.”

Ho said of Su, “Her best known skill is sight reading; she has the ability to play anything very well just by looking at the notes. When I’m working with other musicians at Choate, we’re focused on getting the notes, intonations, and rhythms right. But when I work with Kaki, we can both do all of that relatively quickly,” Ho explained. Both Ho and Su’s expertise allow the musicians to elevate the quality of their piece, interpreting it and making it their own.

Ms. Kalya Yannatos, Choate’s Director of the Arts, remarked of Su, “She is an incredibly talented young woman who has so much potential and who is working really hard to fulfill that potential. It’s very exciting to watch her grow as a musician. The thing about being a musician is that you never arrive — you’re constantly growing — and Kaki has an insatiable appetite for this growth. I hope that her drive will help her to realize her great potential, which would be a gift to the world. For now, she’s a gift to us and a gift for the Choate community.”

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