The use of folk music in classical piano compositions by Chinese composers and the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt is the theme for “East Meets West,” a concert by Santa Fe College Associate Professor of Music and Piano Mitch McKay, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. The concert will be held in the Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville.
Tickets are $15 main floor and $12 balcony for adults; $9 for seniors, children and University of Florida students; and free for Santa Fe College faculty, staff and students with college identification cards. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 352-395-4181 or visit the Fine Arts ticket website at:
In addition to work by Liszt, who is famous as a piano virtuoso as well as a composer who incorporated Hungarian folk melodies into his works, the program McKay has selected will feature selections by Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, and Peixun Chen.
“The evening will be full of ancient enchanting Chinese melodies, cutting-edge modernism and virtuosic Hungarian Rhapsodies,” McKay explained. “I love to include both well-known pieces and obscure or new works in my concerts. That way, audiences can enjoy something they may already know and love, as well as hear something that is brand new to them. This concert will definitely fit that mold.”
Tan Dun is a contemporary Chinese classical music composer best known for his scores for the medal ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the motion picture “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” for which he won Academy and Grammy awards. In 2013, he was named a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO. His influences range from the rituals and ceremonies of the village shaman, set to music made with rocks and water, to the 20th century minimalist and avant-garde composers Philip Glass, John Cage and Meredith Monk.
“If we look at the idea of ‘art music’ with its firm separation of performer and audience, we see that its history is comparatively short,” Tan Dun has said. “Yet the history of music as an integral part of spiritual life, as ritual, as partnership in enjoyment and spirit, is as old as humanity itself.”
Bright Sheng is a Chinese-American composer, conductor and pianist on the faculty at the University of Michigan. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001 and is the first composer-in-residence for the New York City Ballet. In 1999, he received a commission from the White House to compose music to honor the Chinese premier at a state dinner. Leonard Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax are among the music greats who have performed his works.
Born in 1921 in Hong Kong, Peixun Chen studied music for a year in London and returned to Hong Kong as a music teacher. After further studies in Shanghai, he took teaching posts across China and became a professor of composition and orchestration at the Central Conservatory in Beijing in 1949. In 1980, he moved to a similar post at Hong Kong Baptist College. McKay will perform this composer’s beautifully evocative piece, “Autumn Moon Over the Calm Lake.”
McKay credits his mother for instilling him with his love of music. “Her radio played the classical station 24/7—this is no exaggeration—so I have been listening to classical for my whole life.” Asked to name his favorite composers, McKay claims there are “too many to list” but names Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Grieg, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Debussy and Liebermann.
In the SF College Fine Arts Department, McKay gives piano lessons and teaches class piano, music theory, and music appreciation. “I love to foster a love for classical music in my students,” he says. “I think there are centuries worth of fabulous music that comparatively few people listen to, which is a shame.”
“East Meets West” is sponsored in part by SF College and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and Visit Gainesville, a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council.
For more information about “East Meets West,” call Mitch McKay at 352-395-5144.
For more information about the Fine Arts Department and the Fine Arts Hall, call Alora Haynes at 352-395-5296.