Pianist Donna Kwong

Bonnie Simon, Stephen Simon, and Donna Kwong, at Falmouth Academy after Saturday evening’s performance.

Pianist Donna Kwong was the guest soloist with the Simon Sinfonietta at Falmouth Academy for their season-opening performance on Saturday, September 15. She played Camille Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in g minor. It was a magnificent–more on that later.

Prior to her performance, Donna sat down with Stephen and Bonnie Simon to discuss the concert. I taped the conversation for Falmouth Community Television and posted it online. See below.

Donna began piano lessons at an early age and actually played the Saint-Saens concerto when she was10 years old for a national competition. At 13, she had her concerto debut with the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, and has since performed with orchestras throughout the United States and Canada (she was born in Vancouver).

A graduate of Juilliard, she formed the Claremont Trio there with identical twin sisters violinist Emily Bruskin and cellist Julia Bruskin. Her soloist and chamber music career has kept her very busy–and she wanted to spend more time with her baby daughter, so she left the Claremont Trio recently, after 12 and a half years, to stay home more. As she says in the video, her new freedom has given her a chance to do different things, and that is how Stephen and Bonnie met her.

They were recording Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” with the London Philharmonic for their Maestro Classics series and needed duo pianists. Donna was one of the pianists selected, and subsequently Stephen invited her to play for the Simon Sinfonietta.

I wish I had a recording of the whole concert, but Donna does play an excerpt from the opening movement in this video, providing a glimpse of her artistry as a pianist. Enjoy!

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