The music department presented a piano recital “marathon” last Saturday, March 18. Reuben Leatherman, a sophomore, Jacob Zehr, a sophomore, and Wade Troyer, a junior, all performed. This was a slightly more unusual approach to piano recitals.
Typically, music recitals happen during the Friday noon music hour and one musician is showcased. However, Troyer, Zehr and Leatherman all were unable to sign up for dates earlier in the semester. Instead, they were all placed together on Saturday.
Troyer performed his junior recital. He played the Grieg Piano Concerto, something he has been working on in parts for the last two years. The concerto is a three movement work and takes about 30 minutes to perform. Troyer also performed the last movement of this concerto with the GC orchestra earlier in the semester.
Troyer started playing piano in third grade, when his mom made him take lessons. Although starting was not a choice, continuing was.
Troyer enjoys playing piano because it is like “being able to make music by yourself but it’s like you’re a whole orchestra on one instrument.”
“The versatility of the instrument is really cool,” he said.
Leatherman performed two pieces, “Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue” by Bach and the “Ballade #3” by Chopin.
“[Bach] was recommended by my teacher, but I especially like that because Bach is my favorite composer,” he said. “I find a lot of the ideas that he uses in his music really interesting and fun to play.”
Chopin was chosen because the ballades are “pretty diverse pieces in terms of the emotion you put into them as well as the technique.”
Leatherman has been playing piano for about 14 years, and he continues because “it’s a way for me to relax and to let my frustration go into the music.”
Over the next few years here at GC, Leatherman hopes to see growth in his performance skills.
“I often let my nerves get the better of me, and my brain starts going faster than my fingers and it doesn’t end well,” said Leatherman. “I’d like to get to a point where I can get into a zone where I’m calm enough not to freak out but still alert enough to do what I want to do.”
Zehr performed three pieces, the first movement of the “Italian Concerto” by Bach, “Sonata Op. 10 No. 1” by Beethoven and “Rondo Capriccioso” by Mendelssohn. Zehr is both a piano and voice student, and had to choose what he wanted to focus on for the recital.
“I wanted to try something I had never done before, and I had never performed more than one piece at a time on piano,” said Zehr. “I liked the challenge it turned out to be, and I grew a lot from this recital. Plus, I enjoyed playing the pieces.”
Zehr started piano at his dad’s request, as “he thought it was very important to my early development.” He has been playing piano for about 12 years.
Over his next two years here at GC, Zehr hopes to work on his concentration while playing. “Something I have been improving on lately is my ability to sustain focus throughout a work, but I still hope to make progress in this area of my playing,” said Zehr.
He said, “I also continually strive to communicate emotions through my playing, which is really my motive for playing [piano].”
Matthew Hill, professor of music, attended the recitals. Hill said, “I have been very proud of the accomplishments of these students, as well as all those studying piano in my studio. We have a vibrant group of young pianists, who all show great potential.”
Hill noted the importance of this recital for both Leatherman and Zehr.
“For all music majors the sophomore recital is an important point in which the faculty fully confirm their desire to major in music,” said Hill. “The piano sophomore recitals presented this year included very demanding repertoire, much of which has also been featured on senior recitals.”
MuIn order to perform that level of music, a lot of time has to be devoted to practicing. Hill appreciates the amount of work his students put in.
“[Music] students spend many hours per week practicing piano,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for me to walk by the grand piano practice rooms at 8 a.m. and see them all full of students practicing, which brings great joy to my heart!”