Wilton musicians perform in benefit concert

Wilton piano teacher Kyong Hee Cho, upper left, meets virtually with her students who will perform in a benefit concert on Nov. 29.

Wilton piano teacher Kyong Hee Cho, upper left, meets virtually with her students who will perform in a benefit concert on Nov. 29.

Contributed photo /

WILTON — When the pandemic struck in March, forcing the closure of all but essential services, Wilton pianist Kyong Hee Cho seriously considered retiring from teaching.

“Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to meet with my students in person and hear them live to share delicate musical ideas was very depressing,” she said. “I was equally saddened by the inability to have concerts with live audiences.

“Music is about having listeners and a venue in which my students could share their accomplishments.”

In the past, Cho has encouraged even her most novice students to participate in recitals for residents of the New Canaan Inn, and her advanced students to perform in Playing By Heart, a yearly benefit concert to raise money for causes the performers choose.

Her students, she said, changed her mind.

“They wanted to continue and I wanted them to keep practicing,” she said.

In late April, she began giving online lessons, and as positivity rates declined, she retrofitted her studio to offer lessons in person safely. The persistence and “heart” of her students, she said, made this year’s concert possible.

Presented through Eventbrite on Sunday Nov. 29, at 4 p.m., the proceeds will be divided between Griffin Hospital in Derby and Person-to-Person in Darien, which provides for the immediate needs of families in crisis in lower Fairfield County.

The extensive practice and preparation was nothing new to veteran performer Sharon Kesselman who has played in seven previous concerts, but the venue was. Although she admits to suffering nervousness in live concerts, she acknowledged that this format had its own drawbacks.

“I miss the acoustics of a concert venue, which capture the sound better than playing from home,” she said.

Fellow pianists Sophie Wang and Brianna Heckle are happy to perform, because “despite the pandemic they will be able to share music for a wonderful cause.”

Maya Kesselman, Sharon’s daughter, who will play flute, said, “I’m excited to be in the concert after being in the audience for seven years.”

Tickets are available through https://bit.ly/3fqdz8g.

Although the suggested donation is $15, all amounts will be gratefully received.