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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

‘The Three Pianists!’ to feature orchestral music during recital Jan. 31

The UALR music department will host a special guest/faculty recital of at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Building at UALR.

“The Three Pianists!” is a group of three Arkansas piano professors who have been performing together at various concert halls for more than four years.

The professors are Dr. Lei Cai of Ouachita Baptist University, Dr. Heekyung Juhn of Henderson State University, and UALR’s own Dr. Naoki Hakutani. All three enjoy coming together to promote works for piano ensemble that are not often performed.

UALR Music Professor Naoki Hakutani

UALR Music Professor Naoki Hakutani

This year, the group will perform works by Beethoven, Liszt, Peter Schikele, Falla and Wagner, as well as the Yellow River Concerto to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

They will also be joined by Korean pianist Jaeyeon Park of Chosun University for a two pianos, eight-hands arrangement of works by Beethoven (Egmont Overture) and Wagner (Ride of the Valkyries from his opera, Die Walkure).

“Oftentimes, these works are transcriptions of orchestral works,” explained Hakutani, adding that there exists a historical precedent for performing these works on the concert stage.

“In the 18th, 19th and early 20th-century Europe, people who wanted to experience famous music from works such as symphonies, operas and ballets didn’t have the time or means to travel to large cities to hear performances,” he said.

“Many composers capitalized on this need and arranged some of this famous music for piano arrangement. Oftentimes these arrangements were made for two pianos to simulate the symphonic aspect of the original work.”

Hakutani said the works create a life and genre of their own and continue to be performed to this day.

The Egmont Overture is a work that mirrors the work of the same name by the famous German poet writer Goethe. It is a work that is similar in style to Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.” “Die Walkure” is one of four large scale operas by Wagner that constitute “The Ring.”

The group will also present pieces by Liszt (Hungarian), Falla (Spanish) and Schickele (American).

“We hope that this concert will excite the audience, not only because of the familiarity of some of the pieces but because of the dynamic nature of multiple piano players playing simultaneously,” said Hakutani.