Advanced student pianists were chosen to perform alongside music faculty for a unique collaborative concert at Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 11. The concert begins at 2:30 p.m. and will be held in the Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall. The “Multi-hand Piano Concert” is the first of its kind and will feature repertoire for zero to eight hands. Admission to the concert is free but donations will be gratefully accepted at the door.
The idea for the concert was developed two years ago by Music Professor Okon Hwang upon learning that the Music Department would soon have two Steinway concert pianos at its disposal. “When I heard we would have two concert pianos I knew we had to use them in a unique and creative way,” said Hwang. “I wanted to find a way to celebrate the arrival of our new concert piano as well as the returning of our refurbished concert piano, a project which took a year to be completed.”
Hwang spent a year looking for repertoire for multiple hands on one piano. The concert will have performance from zero to eight hands, with odd numbers of hands being relatively rare and difficult to find. “The important thing to note is that none of these pieces have been adapted to fit the type of performance we wanted to do,” said Hwang. “Repertoire for five hands on a piano is relatively rare and for six or more is extremely difficult to find.”
The start of the academic year marked the beginning of preparation for the concert, and six students were chosen to perform alongside six faculty members. “We wanted to showcase the true collaboration between students and faculty so nearly every piece has a mix of faculty and student performers,” said Hwang. “We chose students who are currently working one-on-one with faculty members in piano instruction. This is a wonderful opportunity for students with a high level of skill to show off their ability with unique and challenging repertoire.”
The collaboration between students and faculty for the performance goes beyond the stage, however, as students from music professor Timothy Cochran’s Music History II class will be writing the program notes for the audience. “The opportunity for students to write the program notes is certainly a unique one,” said Hwang. “Students will be thoroughly researching the pieces and perfecting their writing skills in the process. This is a chance for them to take their music research into the arena for a concert.”
This unique concert format is likely to become a tradition for Eastern’s Music Program. “We are so thankful to have this beautiful new building with wonderful resources at our disposal,” said Hwang. “This concert allows us to take advantage of the two beautiful concert pianos that we have acquired and encourage further collaboration between our faculty and students.”