Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra Welcomes Back Young Soloist For Final Joe Luckey Recital Series Concert

Posted: April 18, 2016

Prodigies are a fairly common part of the musical landscape, but it's the rare young musician who is simultaneously both prodigy and seasoned professional.

In our area, that musician is pianist Deven Shah.

Though he is only 15, Deven will be making his second appearance at an Erie Chamber Orchestra concert at the concluding event of the free Joe Luckey Recital Series on April 18, 7:30 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie, 7180 Perry Highway. Joining Deven will be cellist Marian Byard and her violinist daughter, Lydia Byard, who is in her early 20s.

Deven made his ECO debut as a concerto soloist in 2012 and he's appeared as a soloist a number of times since then, but being part of a collaborative chamber ensemble presented him with a different set of challenges.

"We run through the music and find out tough spots," he said. "We find out what we need to work on and try to get the players to match as closely as possible."

That, he said, has been the sequence for preparing the biggest work on the program. The Trio, Op. 1, No. 1 was Beethoven's first published work, but Deven does not dismiss it as a lightweight piece of juvenilia. "It's a big piece," he said. "In the four movements there is a lot going on, things like unexpected key changes, especially in the last two movements."

Deven maintains a rigorous practice schedule of four or five hours per day. Because he is home-schooled, he doesn't participate in team sports, but like a surprising number of musicians, Deven practices martial arts, holding a black belt in hapkido.

"A lot of martial arts is training the body and mind to react. Music is the same way. You can't be thinking about it, it has to come naturally. You have to be able to change in the moment," he said.

Deven says his approach to music has changed since he began his professional career. "I'm trying to make it more nuanced, paying attention to the beginning and ending of phrases and coloring. Instead of paying attention to every single note, I pay attention to what Beethoven is trying to say to the audience."