Leonel Morales Returns To Perform


Leonel Morales performs in Elfers Hall

The lights dimmed and the first few notes of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 57 “Appassionata” echoed throughout Elfers Hall. The audience sat together, attentive to the visiting musician, Leonel Morales. “Appassionata” was the first piece of Morales’ three piece program, and was followed by Albéniz’s Corpus Christi in Seville, Brahms’s Sonata No. 3, concluded by an encore of multiple Spanish pieces.

After two long years, Mr. Leonel Morales, professional Spanish and Cuban pianist came back to Hotchkiss for a concert on February 25 in Elfers Hall. Mr. Morales being a close friend of Mr. Fabio Witkowski, head of the Visual and Performing Arts Department and instructor in Piano, returned to Hotchkiss annually before the pandemic for Summer Portals, concerts and master classes. Mr. Witkowski remarked, “We’re really lucky to have him come [to Hotchkiss] every year, because not only is he a top pianist in Spain, he’s also one of the top teachers in Europe.”

Pianist Jacqueline Wang ’23 shared Mr. Witkowski’s enthusiasm for Mr. Morales’ return. She said, “Listening to great pianists such as Mr. Morales gives me inspiration for the pieces that I’m playing, even if they are not directly related. These concerts also give me a lot of motivation to practice more.”

Before the concert began, Mr. Morales gave private lessons to two piano students—  Ricky Shi ’23 and Oliver Chen ’22. Shi said, “Under the guidance of Mr. Morales, I began to discover a side of music that previously did not pay a lot of attention to because I’ve always been immersed in my own interpretations of the music. Now, I want to try and shift the focus a little bit and give more freedom to the piece and have it shine in a light that’s bigger than just my interpretations and place it in a historical social context.”

Chen echoed such thoughts and said, “The biggest takeaway that I got from this masterclass…is that there’s still music in the most technical parts of a piece. It’s so easy to get sucked into how difficult the part is and just forget the music that comes along with it.”

The concert was only open to the Hotchkiss community, but like in the past, it was also live streamed. For those who were either unable to attend the concert, a link to Mr. Morales’ performance will soon be available on the school’s website, along with additional information regarding his visit.