Concerts highlight student piano collaborations

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Piano students at Sam Houston State University will perform a variety of colorful works as they end the semester with a series of four concerts this week.

Undergraduate and graduate students from studio classes taught by assistant professor of piano Ilonka Rus and associate professor of piano Sergio Ruiz will perform a range of popular piano music from Mozart to 20 th century “Libertango” by Piazzolla.

The first concert kicked off the week Monday night in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall with solo performances from many musical styles from Mozart’s “Sonata in F major, K. 332” to Franz Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” which has been used in several cartoons.

“We try to pick music from a variety of different music, styles and composers,” Rus said. “In these concerts, we have everything from dances, to sonatas to tango to make it more fun for the audience.”

The series of concerts will continue at 5 p.m. on Tuesday as Ruiz’s students perform an array of 18th and 19th century works from Franz Joseph Haydn, Beethoven and Fredric Chopin.

On Wednesday, several of Rus’ students will collaborate on stage for a traditional piano recital at 4 p.m.The Piano Collaborative Recital will feature two or more students playing a single piano. According to Rus, this concert will be unique for students and the audience because many of the works call for four and eight hands playing on the same pianos.

The program includes works by Aaron Copland and Astor Pizzolla’s “Libertango” as well as pieces from several Russian composers.

Rus said the recital represents a culmination of the skills learned in her “Keyboard Techniques” studio class.”In that class they learn how to collaborate with partners, sometimes with two or four people,” she said. “They learn how to play together to match [each other’s] articulation, dynamics and movements, which is not easy to do.”

In addition to working with a partner, students must also master the style of the music and composers, which varies over different time periods and countries.

Rus hopes the concerts will be a fun experience for the audience.”I think the audience will remember the tunes and I hope they will be able to relate to them because they’re all so well-known and have been played for so long,” Rus said. “If anything the music might open their taste to new music they’ve never heard before.”

Lastly, that evening at 7:30 p.m., the string chamber music class will perform works by Dimitri Shostakovich and Beethoven among others, which includes string quartets and piano trios and duos.Admission to all the concerts is free. For more information, call the School of Music at 936-294-1360.

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