Pianist Thomas Kotcheff preformed a solo concert last Tuesday in the Music Recital Hall. (ANELA MIKI-HAN | THE POLY POST)

Thomas Kotcheff leaves audience breathless

Composer and pianist Thomas Kotcheff captivated his audience with his inspirational and powerful piano arrangement. 

Kotcheff is a Los Angeles-based pianist and composer who has been praised for his beautiful and astounding music he both performs and composes. He has been included in some of the most prestigious ensembles and symphonies throughout the entire world. He has been praised on many of his accomplishments and plans to premiere new piano work. 

On Feb. 25, Kotcheff performed in the Cal Poly Pomona Music Recital Hall with a 75-minute solo piano arrangement composed by Frederic Rzewski, an American composer with a high reputation in the classical music world. Rzewski is known for his powerful compositions of protest. 

“Most of his (Rzewski) pieces are politically charged,” Kotcheff said. 

Pianist Thomas Kotcheff preformed a solo concert last Tuesday in the Music Recital Hall.
(Anela Miki-Han | The Poly Post)

He has written arguably one of the greatest piano pieces of the 20th century with a Chilean song of protest and continues to compose songs of protest. The “Song of Insurrection” is one of his longest pieces with seven songs. These seven pieces are all protest anthems that were used at different events and countries during times of political conflicts and disagreements. 

According to the program description of “Song of Insurrection,” “This piece is a tribute to the political struggle of the powerless against the powerful and unification of diverse voices fighting for democracy.”

All seven pieces Kotcheff played smoothly transitioned from one piece to another without a pause or a break during the entire performance. The production is meant to transition seamlessly from one song of protest to the next. It was impressive enough that Kotcheff was able to play effortlessly for so long. 

The arrangement started soft and almost quiet. It was very peaceful as the crowd listened and watched with anticipation. 

Kotcheff then turned the tone of the arrangement into loud, harsh tones. It would go back and forth between these soft and loud notes during the entire 75-minute arrangement, keeping the audience on its toes as it waited for the music to shift once again. 

After half an hour of listening to “Song of Insurrection,” Kotcheff did the unexpected. He paused for a moment and the entire recital hall was silent. 

He continued the arrangement by banging on the piano and playing it as if the instrument was a drum. Kotcheff would slap, bang and knock to create different notes. He shifted the concert with the unexpected yet again. 

Kotcheff would play between the soft and loud playing of the keys while also drumming on different parts of the piano. 

He paused once again and proceeded to get up. The audience assumed the pianist would bang on the piano and created a symphony of sounds using anything other than the keys. But he surprised the audience one last time. 

He plucked the strings inside the piano and played it like a harp. It was beautifully done and he accompanied it with even more drumming of the piano. 

The concert ended earlier than expected after his arrangement of “Song of Insurrection,” but the crowd was thoroughly satisfied. 

For more amazing concerts happening in the Music Recital Hall, visit https://www.cpp.edu/class/music/calendar-of-events.shtml. The next event will be the CPP Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds on March 11. 

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