Devin Huang dazzles with piano performance at First United Church
RICHARD MACKENZIE TRURO NEWS richard.mackenzie @saltwire.com
TRURO - Those taking in the recent First United Church’s Summer Lunchtime Concert were treated to a classical music delight, from the cupboard of a 14-year-old piano phenom. Halifax’s Devin Huang, named one of Canada’s best "30-under-30" classical musicians and a "superstar" by CBC Music, filled the church with the grandiose sounds of Beethoven, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and François Morel, during an approximately 45-minute show. The Grade 9 student at Sacred Heart School in Halifax admitted to being a little nervous since, due to COVID restrictions, this was his first live performance in quite some time. “I think the last performance I did, which wasn’t a recording, was the beginning of 2020, so more than a year ago,” he said. “I thought this was a good opportunity for me to perform live again.” Devin was introduced to the piano at the age of seven and is a student of acclaimed pianist and teacher Lynn Stodola. He said he enjoys playing Beethoven and Chopin but is starting to delve into different genres these days. Very expressive while playing, Devin had another admission about his music which he says he is working on. “I try really hard to focus on the piano when I’m playing and, for stretches of time, I can focus completely on the piano, but there are these thoughts in my head that invade,” he said. “They’re not bad thoughts or anything, just kind of random. My mind wanders a lot when playing the piano. I’m really trying hard to focus, but sometimes they get in.” Devin said he’ll be busy performing for the next month, which means less time for practice, but once school begins so will his daily schedule with time to focus on the piano. And when he is not doing schoolwork or playing the piano? “I like to play basketball, chess, hang out with friends; normal things any 14-yearold enjoys,” he said. As for his advanced abilities at such a young age, he credits his mom Jennifer for all her support, Stodola for her teaching, and the pure joy he gets out of playing the piano. “I definitely think you have to enjoy what you do to excel at it,” he said. MUSIQUE ROYALE’S SUMMER STARTUP “It’s so thrilling, he is just like this crazy, amazing performer,” said Janelle Lucyk, artistic and administrative director of Musique Royale, which partnered with First United Church for the show. This was the first concert of Musique Royale’s 36th Summer Festival, which can be followed by visiting musiqueroyale.com. Lucyk said Devin was involved last year as well, with a recorded performance. Her praise for his show continued. “The whole progression; starting with Beethoven, which is the piece we recorded for the 35th Summer Festival, to build to Rachmaninoff, and then to that Morel piece, which brought out this whole different personality of Devin I hadn’t heard yet. It was really interesting." Chris Bowman, Minister of Music at First United Church, was equally impressed. “What an awesome show,” he said. “We were so honoured to have Devin in our midst; what a thrill. And it’s great just to be able to hold live concerts again and to partner with Musique Royale.” There are still two more shows for the Summer Lunchtime series. “Our next concert will be Aug. 4 which will be a voice and piano concert featuring Claire Hartlen and Cynthia Davies,” Bowman said. “Claire has just completed her first season of music at Memorial University in Newfoundland, so we’ll be showcasing some of what she has learned over the last year. Musique Royale will wrap up its season on Sept. 1 with the Calliope women’s vocal ensemble, a group of eight women from the community.