On Thursday, Jan. 3, Lawrence alumna Mingfei Li ‘17 returned to campus to play a piano recital in Harper Hall in the Music-Drama building. After a celebratory introduction, Li approached the stage with grace and focus to begin Bach’s Partita No. 4 in D Major, BWV 828 with gusto.
Li graduated from Lawrence with a degree in Piano Performance and a German minor and is now getting a Masters of Music in Piano at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where she received the Artistic Excellence Award. This program involves taking lessons, learning piano literature, pedagogy, studying music history, performing at recitals and more. Li has been featured on multiple Lawrence articles and blogs and is clearly respected as a Lawrence alumna. She has been praised not only for her playing but also her passion and focus.
Wearing a long, flowing dress adorned with sparkling beads, Li sat for a few moments at the piano before starting. She seemed to leave behind outside thoughts during these moments and shifted her whole attention to the keys in front of her. She played very well-known composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Schumann. Bach’s “Partita” started out with the “Overture,” lively and fast, followed by the “Allemande,” which changed pace to slower, sadder tones. Throughout the partita, the tempo changed quite a few times, from fast to slow and back and forth quickly. Containing seven movements, the suite was a Baroque piece composed in 1728. This recital had a very classic and clean feel to it. Within each piece, every time the suite’s mood changed, Li’s mood and expression changed with it. Her expression and the music tones were in sync, showing how invested and attached she was to this music. In contrast to her flying fingers and her facial expressions, Li stayed very still throughout the performance, with her back straight and still, different from other players who tend to sway and move during performances. This did not take away from her playing, for the mellifluous music coming from the piano made up for it.
Li’s recital was a good opportunity for current performance students to see what their future might hold. Students looking into graduate school had an opportunity to talk to an alumna who is now in a graduate program, and to get a glimpse of what that kind of program would be like. It was also an opportunity for Li to return to her alma mater and inspire students and staff alike.