Ensemble shows the power of the piano

The piano was the star of the show last Wednesday, Nov. 28 during the Piano Ensembles performance in the Music Recital Hall.

The ‘Works for 2-10 pianists’ concert, directed by Dr. Nadia Shpachenko alongside her ensemble class and working collaborators, produced the instrument’s capabilities.

Alongside a hint of percussive instruments and other non-piano instruments as the supporting acts, the piano-centric show augmented its omnipresence due to its broad range of sounds.

“It’s an instrument that can sing and that can sound like any orchestral instrument; we can do so much on the piano it can sound like any instrument that you can imagine; you can achieve any kind of sound and any kind of timbre that you can think of,” Shpachenko said.

The performers took advantage of the piano’s diverse abilities to create unique pieces. (Michael Uba | The Poly Post)

The musical instrument’s versatility was showcased with manipulation of the grand piano on stage, such as the use of string piano method to create direct plucking and sweeping string sounds, rather than the piano’s original hammered keys sound.

The piano four hands method of playing was common throughout the show.

This is when two players play on the same piano, creating more layers of sound between the bass and treble notes.

Beyond the singular piano instrument as the overall sound performer includes other pianos which led to dual piano pieces, which featured a piano battle-esque performance which the songs intended.

A combination of the dual piano and piano four hands methods of playing also took place for further sound possibilities without the aid of other supporting instruments.

First-year music industries studies student Tyler Deleeuw was one of the audience members.

“The talent was pretty exquisite,” Deleeuw said. “It [the ensemble concert] is really diverse, even if it is just the piano I feel like there’s way more to it than most people would give it credit and you can do much more to pianos as proven here today.”

The ensemble also featured pieces performed on tiny toy pianos. (Michael Uba | The Poly Post)

The methods of playing present during the piano ensemble were joined by the supporting instruments as previously mentioned that had pieces giving the piano a more balanced or laid-back role to spotlight those instruments.

The violin was also present in the show that gives the piano more of a rhythm role with the violin as the melodic lead.

Tom Flaherty was one of the collaborators whose newest 2018 work, “Time’s Up,” was the opening piece of the show.

“It’s a reflection of the times we live with a lot of turmoil and a lot disagreement and a lot of political upheaval, and the piece though tries to concentrate on the hopeful aspects of people coming together to try to solve those conflicts,” said Flaherty, who teaches at Pomona College.

The technicality of the instrument was not ignored as the ensemble showcased a flurry of notes, trills and tremolo runs through the pieces during the show.

Other pieces included multiple movements showcasing the pianos in many playing styles.

Third-year music education student Marissa Aronson was one of the performers.

“It was pretty good. I had to audition; [the songs] were assigned to us,” Aronson said.

Third-year finance major Jeffrey Sweede was also part of the show.

“[‘Rhapysody in Blue’] has a jazz style. I love playing jazz music and I’m part of the Jazz Ensemble here at Cal Poly Pomona and this classical piece is very in jazz style,” Sweede said.

For more information on the Department of Music’s upcoming events, visit its university website, cpp.edu/~class/music/.

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