Eric Tran performs at the PCA this Saturday, May 28
By Lou Fancher
Piedmont’s very own Eric Tran appears May 28 at 7 p.m. at the Piedmont Center for the Arts with an intimate solo piano recital based on the theme of joy. It is always a triumphant occasion when a local artist lands in a hometown setting; especially when it is someone such as Tran, a musician whose celebrated career has taken him to stages in 20 states nationwide and on International tours to Italy, Korea, Canada and China.
Tran is a 2009 graduate of Piedmont High School and attended Stanford University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Mead Witter School of Music. A winner of awards at the Siena Music Festival, Wideman Piano Competition, and the MTNA-Stecher and Horowitz Two Piano Competition, Tran is a sought-after guest artist on the music festival circuit and has performed at PianoTexas, Aspen, Art of the Piano, Gilmore, and Chautauqua.
As a composer, Tran won the Pacific Musical Society Composition Prize and sets of his children’s music series are on the syllabus of the US Open Music Competition. His compositions have been performed by the St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Friction Quartet. Tran’s debut album, Water, was supported by Stanford University’s Young Alumni Arts Grant.
As a “sidelight,” Tran performs as half of the spirited “Happy Dog,” a piano duo formed with friend and piano partner. Nathan Cheung. For over a decade, the two pianists have performed four-hands originals, transcriptions, and well-known favorite works from the classical music repertoire. On the Happy Dog Duo website, their origins and name are described: “January 2011, on a spectacularly long plane ride, Eric Tran and Nathan Cheung decided to compose a piano duet that would change the course of music forever. Armed with nothing but manuscript paper and their years of piano duo experience, they composed the eponymously titled 30-second masterpiece, Happy Dog.” Although Happy Dog is not all playtime—the duo has won awards and positive critical notice—a tag line sums up the experience of a Happy Dog concert. “They enjoy performing memorized concerts, premiering original works, and amusing audiences with their improvisatory, notoriously ridiculous concert interruptus talks.”
Like most musicians in the 21st century, Tran shares his knowledge with the next generation of musicians. Since 2010, he has been teaching students age 10 and older with 60-90-minute, in-person or online piano lessons. Students benefit from his dual roles as composer-pianist through individually-crafted compositions geared for each student, as well as standard instruction in sight-reading, theory, and exercises.
The ambitious program at PCA incudes Tran presenting three transcriptions of Bach, including an original transcription from one of the Bach Cello Suites; a stunning, challenging, jazz-inflected piece by composer Olivier Messiaen entitled Regard de l’Esprit de joie (Gaze of the Spirit of Joy); and the complete Beethoven 6th Symphony Pastoral transcribed for solo piano by Franz Liszt.
A light reception follows the ticketed performance. Piedmont Center for the Arts policy requires all attendees to present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. Masks must be worn for the duration of the event.