Dordt College News

Elgersma to demonstrate unusual piano techniques

February 23, 2008

Why just play the keys, when you can pluck strings or use the body of a piano (and yourself) to explore all the beautiful sounds the piano can make?

That’s the premise of “Cowell, Crumb, and Company: Extended Piano Technique in Twentieth Century American Music,” to be presented Saturday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Dordt College’s B.J. Haan Auditorium.

Kristin Elgersma, a Dordt College alumna and doctoral candidate in piano performance and pedagogy at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) will discuss and perform the extended piano techniques of masters, including John Cage, Henry Cowell, George Crumb, and Frederic Rzewski.

These 20th Century American composers took piano performance beyond the ivories with minor piano modifications and unusual performance techniques. In doing so, they have created vibrant, compelling repertoire that has challenged the world of classical piano music both sonically and philosophically.

The impetus driving these composers will also be explored by Elgersma, from the postmodern eclecticism of Cowell and Crumb, to the meditative Eastern spirituality of Cage, to the righteous political anger of Rzewski. Each piece on this program has been carefully selected to be both a significant contribution to the repertoire and also beautiful, stirring music, accessible to any audience.

The program will include performances of Henry Cowell’s “Aeolian Harp” and “Tides of Manaunaun,” four sonatas from “Sonatas and Interludes” by John Cage, five pieces from George Crumb’s “Makrokosmos I & II,” and “Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues” by Frederic Rzewski.

Kristin Elgersma studies with Sylvia Wang, with additional areas of research including contemporary piano music for students, and the role of arts education/community outreach in the piano performance and pedagogy curriculum. She is also a faculty member at Northwestern University, teaches private and group piano through the Northwestern University Music Academy, and performs regularly as a soloist, collaborative pianist, chamber musician, and in master-classes.

This performance is sponsored by the Dordt College Music Department. It is free and open to the public.

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