Cameron University welcomes alumna Jiha Choi for guest piano recital

Cameron University will present a piano recital by alumna Jiha Choi on Tuesday, February 19 in the McCutcheon Recital Hall. Choi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Music in 2013, will perform selections by Schumann, Beethoven, Liszt and Kupustin. The performance will start at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens, military and middle/high school. CU students, faculty and staff are admitted at no charge with CU ID.

Jiha-Choi“Jiha is one of the most talented pianists I have ever taught,” says Dr. Hyunsoon Whang, Professor of Music. “She is innately musical, possessing technical proficiency and true love of music. While at Cameron, she was chosen as the Presser Scholar, the top honor for music majors. She is a generous person who collaborated with other music students on countless occasions and was much loved by students, staff and faculty alike. I am excited to bring her back for this special guest alumna recital.”

The performance will begin with “Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), Opus 15, composed in 1838 by Robert Schumann, who told his wife that the movements were inspired by her comment that he sometimes seemed “like a child.”  In 1840, the composer described the movements as “more cheerful, gentler, more melodic” than his earlier works. Choi will perform all 13 movements.

She will follow the Schumann opus with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Opus 90. Unlike most of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, which contain three or four movements, this piece consists of just two movements. Beethoven included performance instructions for each. Movement 1, he noted, should be played “with liveliness and with feeling and expression throughout,” and Movement II should be performed “not too swiftly ad conveyed in a singing manner.”

Liszt’s Fantasie und Fugue über das Thema B-A-C-H, S. 529/2, written in 1870, will follow. The piece is referred to as an organ fantasy on the BACH motif and is one of Liszt’s most famous organ works. Liszt composed the piece for the consecration of the Ladegast organ in the Merseburg Cathedral and transcribed it for solo piano.

The recital will conclude with a more modern composition, Variations, Opus 41, written in 1984 by Nikolai Kapustin. As the composer is known for melding complex jazz stylings with classical forms, the piece is sure to be a hit with jazz aficionados. The introductory theme takes the form of a jazzed-up rendition of the opening solo bassoon motif from Stravinsky's “Rite of Spring.” The piece is heavily influenced by mainstream jazz, evoking memories of Count Basie, Erroll Garner and others.

A native of Korea, Choi began her piano studies at the age of 5. Her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was a teenager. One year later, she won the senior division of the Music Teachers National Association competition for the state of Oklahoma, then made her orchestral debut as a soloist with the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 16. During her junior year of high school, she was awarded a full scholarship to study with Joseph Kalichstein and Gabriel Chodos at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

After further study at the New England Conservatory, she completed her Bachelor of Music degree at CU, where she was awarded numerous honors and scholarships, including the prestigious Presser Scholar Award.  Choi received a Teaching Fellowship from the University of North Texas, a highly competitive award which is rarely given to a Master’s degree student. She is currently pursuing a doctorate under Joseph Banowetz at the University of North Texas College of Music, where she held a Teaching Fellowship for five years. Her previous piano instructors included Dr. Hyunsoon Whang, Dr. Thomas Labé, and Gabriel Chodos.

In addition to her performances as a soloist, Choi has extensive experience collaborating with other musicians, as well as giving instruction in keyboard skills and piano classes.  

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February 12, 2019