Colourful Russian Music at Piano Spectacular
The USQ Keyboard Ticklers return next month with another thrilling piano recital.
In what can only be described as a tour-de-force of music-making, their 2012 concert will combine the sounds of two grand and four upright pianos, choir, percussion and organ.
The concert will showcase the vast musical talent in the University’s music program featuring the School of Creative Arts’ current piano students together with an exciting array of Alumni musicians performing an all-Russian program.
Putting together such a mammoth production has taken months of reworking of scores and rehearsals under the direction of USQ Senior Lecturer in Music, Dr Phillip Gearing and Associate Music Director, Morgan Chalmers.
Currently completing the final year of his Bachelor of Creative Arts (Music) degree, Morgan is also a talented composer, arranger and conductor who has been the Associate Music Director of the Keyboard Ticklers since 2010.
Putting together the arrangements for this year’s concert has been particularly exciting and challenging for the young musician.
“In the past, our programs have all had a particular central idea – in 2010 it was creating a homogenous ‘big-piano’ sound and in 2011 it was simulating an orchestra on pianos,” said Morgan.
“This year I could categorise the program with one word - colour.
“Russian music provides a rich source of colourful music both musically and instrumentally and provides examples of some of the most masterfully orchestrated compositions of the 19th and 20th centuries.
“In my individual arrangements of the works, I’ve attempted to explore and utilise the entire spectrum of colours and tones available from the pianos.
Morgan’s challenges have been many - to take a masterfully orchestrated work such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and create a kaleidoscope of colours from an ensemble of mono-timbrel instruments; to sustain sound in works like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Rachmanivov’s Isle of the Dead to bring a new colour and sound to the piano ensemble; and to rework Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition – originally composed for solo piano to create a full spectrum of colour not unlike that of an orchestra.
“Pictures at an Exhibition is one of my favourite musical works; it is almost impossible not be swept up by the works sheer originality and Mussorgsky’s phantasmagoria of differing musical colours, rhythms, sounds and gestures.
“It is also an incredible example of creating images through music - whilst one might not be able to picture the ‘Grand Gates of Kiev’, a ‘ballet danced by Unhatched Chicks’, or a ‘Hut on Fowl’s Legs’, when listening to the music, you’re instantly transported to these other-worldly places.”
Other items on the program will include selections from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite and Stravinsky’s Petroushka.
“The music we have selected provides an excellent overview of Russian music; complete with expressive melodies, beautiful moving harmonies, profound emotional intensity, thrilling rhythms, virtuosic instrumentation and an exciting oriental flavour.
“It is a remarkably expansive musical genre that has something for everyone.”
The Piano Spectacular will be presented at 7.30pm on Saturday 2 June and 2pm on Sunday 3 June in the USQ Arts Theatre.
Tickets are $27 adult, $21.50 concession, $16.50 student, $8.50 child and can be purchased through the USQ Artsworx Box Office on 07 4631 1111.