|The Booker High VPA Music Department will present its first concert of the year, the guitar and piano Chamber Music Concert, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at the VPA Theatre, 3201 N. Orange Ave. Tickets are $5.
The concert comprises guitar ensembles in the first portion, mostly performing contemporary acoustic guitar compositions from such composers as Michael Borner and Dieter Kreidler in duet, trio and quintet formats. The guitar music is mostly Spanish in flavor, and BHS VPA guitar teacher Thomas Koch specializes in teaching his students classical acoustic guitar technique.
The second part of the show features piano ensembles performing works ranging from “In the Hall of Mountain King” to “Hungarian Dance No. 5.”
Music department chair Sung Choe says she is excited for the students to be able to present the hard work they have put into learning these songs in a performance. Whether the student is new to music or an advanced musician, there is much to be gained by taking the piano courses Choe teaches, and she sees great improvement in their skills.
For some students, this will be their first recital performance ever.
“My beginners come into the program because they might have just tinkled the keys, but want to learn to play piano,” Choe said. “They learn how pitches and rhythm work together and when they do, their faces light up and that’s a great pleasure for me to watch them.”
Her more accomplished students know their way around a piano, and have no trouble performing, but performing in duet presents new challenges for them.
“It’s always new getting together with another partner,” she said. “Everyone feels the rhythm differently and feels the music differently, so working together with new partners brings about a different way of expressing music.”
Both Koch and Choe are practicing musicians with internationally acquired educations in their respective instruments – Koch studied guitar in Germany and France, and Choe studied piano in her native South Korea and received her college degrees from The University of Iowa – so they bring to their students a wealth of experience and repertoire.
While performance implies polish and refinement, Choe said that primarily such concerts are for the benefit of the students, to recognize the work they put into their craft, and to allow them the chance to have their learning gains appreciated by audiences.
“We have these performances because of the kids,” she said. “They’ve practiced really hard.”
From an educational perspective, musical training is an excellent way to exercise the brain, as musicians must organize sound in time. It’s particularly involving when they study piano, she said, because playing piano involves three parts of the body: the hands, eyes, and feet. Thus, the students’ manual dexterity is honed along with the dexterity of their brains. She noted that music students tend to excel in mathematics because of the organization involved in the composition of music.
The type of music presented by this show, ensemble music, also involves communication, so there’s a constant relay of listening and having that information guide the fingers along the instruments.
“Out of all the instruments, it involves three parts of their bodies: the hands, eyes and feet. All other instruments involve just the hands. Organization of sound in time, it helps to develop the brain at the same time.
Not that audiences will necessarily focus on the strengths of these students’ minds; it’s not the process or technique, but the music itself that will be the centerpiece of Thursday’s show.
Said Choe, “Music is sharing, so they’re sharing their talents with other people.” For tickets, go online to www.vpabooker.com, or call Judy Piercy at 941-355-2967. Tickets will also be available at the door.