Booker High Presents Guitar, Piano Chamber Concert
SARASOTA - The Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts Program Music Department will present its first concert of the year, the guitar and piano chamber music concert, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 1, at the VPA Theatre, 3201 N. Orange Ave. Tickets are $5 and are available online at www.vpabooker.com or by calling Judy Piercy at 941-355-2967. Tickets also will be available at the door.
The first segment of the concert features guitar ensembles in duet, trio and quintet formats, performing contemporary acoustic guitar compositions by such composers as Michael Borner and Dieter Kreidler. Students will play under the tutelage of VPA guitar instructor Thomas Koch.
The second part of the show features piano ensembles performing works ranging from “In the Hall of the Mountain King” to “Hungarian Dance No. 5.”
Piano instructor and music department chair Sung Choe says she is excited for the students to be able to reflect 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 rhythms work together. When they do their faces light up, and that’s a great pleasure for me.”
Choe’s more accomplished students know their way around a piano, and have no trouble performing, but performing in duets presents new challenges for them, especially because she always assigns students new partners.
“It’s always different getting together with a new partner,” she said. “Everyone feels the rhythm and the music differently, so working together with someone new 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; Choe learned piano in her native South Korea and received her college degrees from The University of Iowa. They each bring to their students a wealth of experience and a wide-ranging repertoire.
While performance implies polish and refinement, Choe said this concert is primarily 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 stage these performances because of the students,” 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. As a result, the students’ manual dexterity is honed along with cognitive dexterity.
Research has suggested a correlation between music training and increase of gray matter as evidenced in brain scans, in part because of the processes required in playing a musical instrument: memorization of material, focus on many physical systems at once, the decoding of a complex symbolic system (the musical notation), and the identification of rules of pattern formation. Choe noted that, in her experience, music students tend to excel in mathematics because of the organization involved in the composition of music.
Ensemble music also involves communication, because students are constantly listening to one another as a single piece of music is performed by two.
“Music is sharing,” said Choe, “and these students will share their talents with the audience.”