Saddleback College presents Master Class with Andrew Park

Andrew Park performing “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khachaturian at the McKinney Theatre. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

Andrew Park performing “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khachaturian at the McKinney Theatre. (Colin Reef/Lariat)

The Saddleback Fine Arts Department began its Reflections of the Ocean Classical Keyboard Series last night when they welcomed concert pianist Andrew Park, member of the Park Trio.  Park performed pieces by the infamous Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin, De Falla and Khatchaturian.

Park is a renowned solo pianist, chamber musician and pedagogue who won  first prize at the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition in 1993. Born in Korea, he gave his first public performance at 5-years-old and has won numerous major competitions in Korea, including the Korea Times Competition and the Jeon-Buk State Music and the Arts Competition.

Park completed his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree at the University of Southern California with world renowned pianist John Perry. Park still actively performs as a solo pianist and a chamber musician nationally and internationally, traveling with his group the Park Trio.

“It is an honor to still play all over southern California and the rest of the United States,” Park said. “I can remember my first show in Korea and it still feels like yesterday everytime I am up on stage.”

Park began the night with a piece titled “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khachaturian. It is from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayane where the dancers display their skill with sabres. This synthesis of an Armenian wedding dance tune from Gyumri, Armenia, infuses classical piano notes with a saxophone concerto in which this piece is usually performed.

“I remember this song from the movie the Blues Brothers,” concert goer Denise Welsh said. “It’s amazing to actually hear it in person though. It’s almost hard to believe any one person can perform it by themself.”

Park also performed many classical pieces by Frederic Chopin, who is widely seen as the greatest of Polish composers and among the very greatest of composers for the piano, the instrument for which he wrote almost exclusively.

Two important collections that Park executed are the Études, Opp. 10 and 25 which are a staple of that genre for pianists, and the 24 Preludes, Op. 28, a cycle of short pieces paired in a major key/relative minor key pattern following the circle of fifths in clockwise steps.

“I love performing Chopin because I can relate to him,” Park said. “He grew up traveling and moving around a lot like me. His work is so beautiful too and he is a master of his craft.”

The second piece of the evening was watching Park perform Chopin’s Op. 18 “Grand Valse Brillante” which is one of his most famous waltzes; the G flat major and in E flat minor.

The versions have subtle differences that only the trained pianist or intent listener can hear. In early versions he allows for a space for a trumpet to announce the dance. In later versions there is a pause which Park executes to allow for build up and style.

“Park’s ability to add a modern flare and almost jazz like fluidity to some of these famous composers is really a wonder to see in person,” Welsh said. “It’s unbelievable one person has the capacity for all these beautifully inspiring pieces.”

Call the ticket office at 949-582-4656 for more information on other shows in the Reflections of the Ocean Classical Keyboard Series . Tickets may be purchased in person at the Saddleback College ticket office, noon – 4:00 pm Tuesday – Friday or online at www.saddleback.edu/arts. If you need assistance, call the ticket office at (949)-582-4656 during the hours listed.

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