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Monday, 16 August 2010 00:00

Adele Liu Kramber

Eleven-year-old Adele Liu Kramber has a clear idea of what brings her joy. At three she asked her parents, Ruimin Liu and William Kramber, for
lessons and a piano. Not surprisingly, her parents weren’t quite ready to make that investment. Six months later, when Adele was four, she began piano lessons with a friend and was practicing on a real keyboard.

That year, at a concert, she first heard the notes of a violin—that was her next request. Ruimin says that although she and her husband are not musically talented, Adele always knew what she wanted.



Adele has a solemn radiance when she is playing, but flashes a quick smile as she loosens her bow. Now that she is eleven, she is asking for more challenges. In June she auditioned for Geoffrey Trabichoff, Concertmaster at the Boise Philharmonic and Artist-In-Residence at the College of Idaho.

When asked if she was nervous at that audition, her eyes grow large and she nods vehemently. “After I played my piece, he asked me to go over the parts and showed me how to play it better.” Adele remembers thinking, “Well, even if I can’t be his student, at least I got a lesson from Trabichoff!” She was accepted that day.

The piano was her first love and she has recently begun piano lessons with jazz pianist, Chuck Smith. Adele can’t remember when she didn’t play the piano. Sitting at the keyboard is just natural. I asked about the differences in playing the two instruments and she paused, looking for words. “Well, the violin has a lot of room for dynamics, you can work on each note to make it more powerful or add vibrato. That’s why you have to do scales, to work on the notes, instead of the piece. The piano…just…is….”

When she plays a formal piece Adele wants to be precise and get it right, “so it sounds good to the ones listening.” She prefers fast-paced, lively, and ornate Baroque pieces on the violin. To relax she improvises “Then I can just play—maybe start out with a blues scale and see what goes with it.”

She laughs shyly and admits that sometimes she has to be nagged to finish her daily practices. Her face lights up when she talks about her teachers and tells me that she has “always” wanted to study with Geoffrey Trabichoff. Discussing the jazz lessons with Chuck Smith, Adele is delighted at the new windows into improvisation and increasingly difficult challenges he sets for her.

Adele likes graphic-art novels such as the Plain Jane series, hanging out with friends, and can’t name a favorite song. According to her parents, Adele loves to perform, and has played at Berryhill, and for the last three years at the Capitol City Market. This summer she served as Assistant Concertmaster at the Sun Valley Summer Music Workshops Philharmonia Orchestra for violin. She already has new goals in mind for her 7th grade year: beginning a small business performing for weddings and events, playing in the school orchestra, and working toward a place in the Youth Symphony.  “I am going to just keep trying each year until I am good enough.”

Watching Adele talk and play and laugh, one senses an emerging artistry hinged on joy. She is at once shy and confident, solemn and funny, careful and silly. “I can’t remember when exactly,” she says, “but there was this moment when I knew I was hooked, for life.”

Feature and photographs by Stacy Ericson



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