Penn pianist to star at Symphony Orchestra concert


Pianist Ellen Hahm, a senior in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Penn senior Ellen Hahm may not be a music major, but she has grown up with a great fondness and appreciation for classical music. Since the summer of her sophomore year, she has dreamed of being a featured soloist in the Penn Symphony Orchestra, the University ensemble comprised primarily of non-music majors. On Saturday, Feb. 25, Hahm’s dream will come true when she performs with the Orchestra at 8 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium.  

As winner of the Hilda Nitzsche Concerto Competition last December, Hahm will be the featured piano soloist, performing Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (she also received a $500 cash prize). The 80-minute concert will also include Johannes Brahms’ epic Fourth Symphony.  

The Nitzsche competition, open to all Penn undergraduates, requires students to prepare a concerto of their choice and perform the work with a piano accompaniment. 

Hahm, who grew up in Seoul, South Korea, started playing the piano at age 4. A Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program major, she spent the summer of 2010 honing her musical prowess at the renowned Aspen Music Festival and School surrounded by “Julliard students and others who were pursuing a career in music,” she says    

For the past 18 months, Hahm has studied piano with Michael Sheadel, a College House Music Fellow in the Department of Music.

“She is a joy to teach,” Sheadel says. “She brings a great dynamic spirit to her piano playing. The Liszt Concerto, with its high level of drama, is the perfect match for her talent.”

Hahm says she is looking forward to playing at Irvine.

“I’m really excited about the performance,” she says. “It is really a great opportunity to perform and something I have always wanted to do before I graduate.”

After she graduates, she will work in marketing in Connecticut. “Hopefully I will be able to continue studying piano there,” she says.

Admission to the Feb. 25 Symphony Orchestra concert is free for those with a PennCard, otherwise it is $5 general admission at the door. The full Spring 2012 performance schedule is available at the Music Department website.

Originally published on February 16, 2012