Visiting Piano Trio bring more than just a free concert

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Every semester BYU’s School of Music hosts a slew of concerts featuring some of the worlds’ premier performers. Though they are trained to entertain, these professional musicians often act as teachers to the pupils of Provo, offering  instructional workshops for music students during their visit to campus.

The New York Piano Trio, three of New York City’s premier musicians, will perform a free concert on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Made up of violinist Curtis Macomber, cellist Chris Finckel and pianist Stephen Gosling, the trio will also perform original compositions written by members of the BYU School of Music Faculty including Michael Hicks, Christian Asplund and Steve Ricks.

For students, however, the real treat comes in the workshop these professionals will lead, said Steve Ricks, associate professor of music. This workshop helps music composition students improve their skills as composers.

“This is a unique because of the great skill and ability level of these performers and their experience; the breadth of experience that they bring to the table,” he said.

According to Ricks, the trio will not only read, perform and record original arrangements written by BYU students, but will also give students insights on contemporary music performance and the creative process.

Macomber, the trio’s violinist, said he and his colleagues are excited for their residency at BYU, adding that the experience last year was very positive.

“It’s very exciting for us actually to be reading these pieces and getting input from the composers,” Macomber said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for them as well.”

Macomber, a professor at the Manhattan School of Music, said the workshop is designed to help budding composers learn how to communicate their ideas on paper efficiently.

“We read through the piece but then we ask questions,” Macomber said. “We want them to be as prepared as possible.”

Macomber said the trio will also focus on helping the students learn how to communicate with performers, adding that the workshop may be more important and instructive than the actual performance.

Michael Wahlquist, a graduate student of music composition, worked with the trio last year and his original piece “Vials” will be read and performed at this year’s workshop. Wahlquist said he finds these workshops rewarding and informative.

“We get guests in about once a semester and they’re the best I’ve had in my time at BYU,” Wahlquist said. “They nailed my piece on the first try so I was able to get a couple of really great recordings.”

Wahlquist, a native of Rexburg, Idaho, said he is grateful to have professional musicians play his music and give him immediate feedback. For Wahlquist and his colleagues, having arrangements played by student musicians is a regular occurrence, but it is a rare opportunity to hear their music performed by world class profesional musicians. By the BYU population at large, these visiting musicians are generally overlooked, Wahlquist said.

“I don’t think they understand what caliber of musicians get to visit us,” Wahlquist said.”It is going to be a good concert; one of the best of the semester.”

The free concert will take place on Tuesday Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Madsen Recital Hall of the HFAC.

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