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Program for Monica Chew – October 15, 2023

Sunday, October 15, 2023 at 4 pm

download a copy of this program here.

Monica Chew, piano
Best Friends


Stacy Fahrion (b. 1974)
A Foretaste

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru (1923–2023)
The Homeless Wanderer (transcribed by Mary Sutton)

Ali Osman (1958–2017)
Afro Arab Blues

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
Prelude and Fugue in B-flat minor

Lucrecia Kasilag (1918–2008)
Rondo in E minor

Joshua Uzoigwe (1946–2005)
from Talking Drums

Ulvi Cemal Erkin (1906–1972)
Beş Damla (Five Drops)

Monica Chew (b. 1977)
Pitter Patter

About the music

Stacy Fahrion A Foretaste – A Foretaste is an etude from my book, Polyrhythms for Pianists. It’s evocative of a mysterious ritual dance, and features a 5:4 polyrhythm. The piece is based on an F harmonic major scale with some excursions to F minor. I called it A Foretaste because after writing many modal polyrhythmic etudes for my book, a lot of the elements I enjoy in music came together in this piece, and I was excited to continue exploring those ideas in future works. – Stacy Fahrion

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru The Homeless Wanderer – The homeless wanderer plays on his flute, while he worries about the wilderness around his life. At night in the mountains, when people and animals rest after the day, one hears the song of a flute which the little wanderer plays, alone and far from home. The wild animals and snakes do not dare approach him, but listen spellbound to the melody his flute produces, which becomes its protector through the power of the notes. This he loses his fear of the nocturnal visitors. They become his friends. – Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

*The name and likeness of Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru are trademarks of The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation. The Foundation, a self-financed nonprofit, funds music programs that benefit underserved children in the U.S. and Ethiopia. To support this mission, Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Publisher preserves Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s musical compositions and manuscripts, generating revenue for The Foundation.

Ali Osman’s Afro Arab Blues, with its spoken word and finger snaps, is a challenge to the pianist on top of its many musical difficulties. Osman’s rock guitarist roots shine through. I found this piece unforgettable on first hearing. – Monica Chew

The Prelude and Fugue in B-flat minor by Dmitri Shostakovich is one of 24, and the most introspective of the set. The prelude is a set of variations, which is followed by a sublime three-part fugue with an arabesque subject. – Monica Chew

Lucrecia Kasilag’s Rondo in E Minor, while classical in form, features a harmonic language that’s distinctly her own, with parallel fourths galore. – Monica Chew

Joshua Uzoigwe’s Ukom from his suite Talking Drums requires the pianist to have two brains, one to keep track of the left hand ostinato (which may be doubled on slit drum) and one for the various interjections and melodies in the right hand. – Monica Chew

Five Drops is Ulvi Cemal Erkin’s most famous piano work. The first piece is a fast, fanfare piece, the second is like a beautiful Anatolian melody, and the third is more reminiscent of Middle Eastern melodies. The fourth piece is a fast Turkish accent in 5/8, with exquisite piano writing and very enjoyable to play. The fifth is a piece in the hijaz maqam. – Fazil Say

I wrote Pitter Patter for the Illustrated Pianist, a Ray Bradbury-inspired event at Old First Church in 2021. Part dripping faucet transcription, part Turkish dance-inspired arrangement of Itsy Bitsy Spider, this piece ends with the sun coming out in a veiled reference to Schumann’s Gesänge der Frühe.Monica Chew

About the musician

Monica Chew (she/her) is an Oakland composer and pianist who celebrates presenting rarely performed music and new works from around the world.  A “gifted player with an affinity for deeply sensitive expression” (Whole Note), she has composed since 2017 and couldn’t be happier about it.  Her work has been featured as part of the Gabriela Lena Frank’s Creative Academy for Music, Verdant Vibes, Hot Air Music Festival, and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s Intersection program. Her writing has been reviewed as “monumental” and “stunning” by San Francisco Classical Voice. Prior to 2015, she worked nearly a decade as a principal software engineer on security and privacy at Mozilla and Google. She lives in Oakland with her husband, an 1899 Steinway B, a clavichord, and a disused violin. Visit her webpage at

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