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Instrumental conversations

American Piano Quintet slated to perform Saturday at Andrews University

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Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 6:00 am

BERRIEN SPRINGS - With four different institutions represented, the logistics of rehearsing can get a little bit complicated for members of the American Piano Quintet.

However, for musicians used to performing at a high level, the solution is simpler than it might seem, in violinist Carla Trynchuk's perspective.

"Obviously, when we prepare for this, there's a lot of individual work that goes on, there's a lot of core study, so when we get together things are just ready to fall in place," Trynchuk says by telephone from her Berrien Springs home. "Then we work on the interpretive details - what we want to bring out in the music, (and) the types of conservations we have between the instruments. That's the kind of thing we look to do when we get together."

For pianist Chi Yong Yun, everything's about refining the individual nuances of each piece as the actual concert date draws closer.

"The word that comes to mind is, 'a lot of discipline' - I started playing at an early age, when I heard my sister practicing, and I started playing what I heard," Yun says. "I was around 3 or 4."

Trynchuk and Yun both teach at Andrews University, where they'll also perform Saturday as part of the American Piano Quintet, whose other members are Rudolf Haken (violin), Jeffrey Lastrapes (cello) and Renee Skerik (viola).

Haken is on the University of Illinois's music faculty, while Skerik is a viola professor at Texas Tech University and a violist for the Botticelli String Quartet.

Lastrapes is a former Oklahoma State University faculty member who recently released a CD of sonatas by Rachmaninoff and Chopin. Since 1996, he's also served on the cello and chamber music faculty at Interlochen Center for the Arts and is an assistant professor of cello at Texas Tech.

"I'm looking forward to performing with these wonderful colleagues. We have lots of different backgrounds represented, and yet we all do very much the same thing," Trynchuk says. "We all perform a lot and we all teach a lot. These are our dual passions."

The program will consist of three works, including "Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34," by Johannes Brahms, and Haken's composition, "Tao Suite," a piece based on the writings of 6th-century philosopher Lao Tsu. After a brief intermission, the quintet will close its performance with Antonin Dvorak's "Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81."

Trnychuk expects the Haken piece to represent a musical peak of the program, even though she won't be playing on it herself.

"We went through a number of ideas (for the program). We wanted a couple of piano quintets that would be contrasting," Trynchuk says. "Brahms, of course, is rich and dark in color and the Czech composer (Dvorak) is an audience pleaser. The most unusual work (of the night) will be Rudolf's - it's a very cool work."

"The pieces that we're going to perform cover a wide range of emotion, between the instruments," Yun agrees. "With classical music, it's something that takes a lot of discipline and a lot of training. It's not something you're going pick up in the period of a week or a month."

While she's looking forward to playing all the pieces, Yun is especially excited about the Brahms selection. "His writing for piano is very complex - it's challenging, but it's musically fulfilling," she says.

The quintet's members also will give a master class to Andrews' string instrument students at 3:30 p.m. Friday, in Buller Hall's Newbold Auditorium. Haken, Skerik and Lastrapes are expected to lead this endeavor, which is open to the public as well, Trynchuk says.

"A master class is when you have students perform, and have the master teacher work with the student," she says. "It's basically like a public lesson."

-- WHAT: American Piano Quintet

-- WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

-- WHERE: Andrews University's Howard Performing Arts Center, 4160 E. Campus Circle Drive, Berrien Springs

-- COST: $10, $5 for students, faculty and staff

-- INFORMATION: 471-3560, 888-467-6442 or howard.andrews.edu

-- ARTIST INFO: americanpianoquintet.com

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