My work during quarantine, by Pengcheng

Dear Members and Friends of St. John’s UU Church,

At Rev. Mitra’s invitation, I am writing to update how this pandemic has changed my work.

Before the pandemic, I normally played accompaniment for choir rehearsal on Thursday and performance on Sunday, I also played solo music for prelude, offertory and postlude at Sunday service. From April to August I was fortunately able to continue offering my music to you for online service, which I recorded my playing and uploaded to YouTube. It usually took many times to meet my standard. The pieces I played are carefully selected, most music I played in the offertory are peaceful and calm, but in Postlude always something energetic.

Since September, we have been doing the live zoom service. I am no longer doing recorded pieces, instead I am playing everything live from zoom on every Sunday. It definitely adds more special feeling to my playing even though there are no people sitting in sanctuary. Besides playing music, I am also doing editing for hymn singing by our wonderful choir musicians every week since September. I send the accompanying recording to the choir first, they practice and record their singing with my recording then I put videos together. If the hymn has 4 parts, I will edit the balance of the sound to make sure it is perfect.

I believe in the importance of music. It can transfer the meaning of thousands of words in just a few minutes of music. It is a blessing for me to share my music with you and I am looking forward to playing music in front of you again when the pandemic is over.




A note of appreciation about Pengcheng

For Barbara and me, Pengcheng is family.  Over the past two years it has been my pleasure and joy to work with him on a variety of issues, especially concerning his interpretations of piano music.  We have spent many hours discussing his approach to playing some of the most daunting works by such great composers as Brahms, Liszt, Chopin, and Beethoven—especially Beethoven.  He is a formidable pianist, and he plans as part of his doctorate requirements to play all 32 of the Beethoven sonatas.  St. John’s website, via YouTube, offers a sample of some of the sonatas he plans to play in the coming year, as well as music of other composers.  If anyone reading this document hasn’t had the pleasure of hearing him play, click on the following address: 

I would also like to point up Pengcheng’s continued dedication to assisting in the musical activities of this church during the pandemic.  His work with our virtual choir and our virtual Sunday services helps to ensure that St. John’s can continue with its tradition of musical excellence.

Beyond our musical relationship, Pengcheng is a lovely person just to be around.  Because of the Covid restrictions, Barbara and I have had little opportunity for face-to-face visits, but nonetheless we have been able to establish a close familial relationship with him by telephone, and his gentleness and moral authenticity come across, even over the phone lines.  He is indeed a true UU young man.

–Ron Hoffman, member of St. John’s choir