11 June 2020
By Ellie Palmer
Lu will highlight the work of African-American composer Florence Price while also raising funds for Covid-19-related charities
20-year-old American pianist Michael Lu will give an online concert on Friday 19 June in partnership with the 5pm Series (10pm BST) and will dedicate his first piece to victims of black oppression. Lu will perform the second movement, marked Andante, from the Piano Sonata in E minor by Florence Price, who was one of the first African-American female composers to gain national status.
Lu comments, “I feel that the music of Florence Price and many other great African-American composers – among them George Walker, William Grant Still and Ulysses Kay – are sadly neglected… In reality, the music of these composers constitutes among some of the most beautiful and important achievements of human history.
This Andante of Price that I will play is heartbreakingly beautiful. It reminds one of Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, and Dvorak. Yet there is a huge range of human emotion - sadness, despair, but also an abundance of hopefulness. Despite going through so much discrimination throughout her lifetime, Florence Price was able to craft masterpieces that are unfailingly beautiful and also deeply metaphysical.
The spirit of Florence Price will inspire all of us to become better human beings and bring about the positive changes we need for our world that are long overdue.”
The 5pm Series aims to showcase and support professional musicians and music students during Covid-19. Lu will also perform works by Liszt, Franck and Beethoven.
Funds raised to go towards Covid-19-related causes
In addition to honouring lives lost and to spotlighting forgotten composers, Lu is also hoping to raise funds for charities whose work helps people in need during the Covid-19 pandemic. Viewers of concerts hosted by the 5pm Series usually donate to the Series’ GoFundMe to help support the artist performing. In Lu’s case, he will donate every penny of this.
“35% will go to the International Rescue Committee, 30% will go to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (a very personal cause for me), and 35% back to the series to help in their pursuit to expand their platform to help displaced artists. Additionally, I will personally match all donations up to $200 to the NAACP.”
Admired by the greats
Michael Lu may just be 20-years-old, but he has already been personally selected to participate in a series of selective workshops and masterclasses by two of the piano world’s greats – Maria João Pires and Murray Perahia. He was invited by Pires to participate in her inaugural North American Partitura Residency at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, and by Perahia for his series of masterclasses by G. Henle Verlag on Beethoven piano sonatas which will take place in Munich, Germany, from 7-10 September 2020.
Lu currently resides in Cleveland where he studies with Antonio Pompa-Baldi at the Cleveland Institute of Music on a full scholarship. He was previously taught by the great Stanislav Ioudenitch and the late Seth Carlin.
For more information on the upcoming performance, visit the event’s website.
Main image: © Ken Love / Ken Love Photography