Pianist Jihye Chang kicks off “The Bucket List” series at FSU

(Chang played a prelude by Rachmanioff, which she said reminded her of Russian church bells. Photo by Allie Gath)

Internationally recognized pianist Jihye Chang performed preludes Monday in the Ecumenical Center for a Midday Performance.

Chang, who is also a music professor at Florida State University, prefaced her performance by saying her recital at FSU begins the first part of a five-year solo piano recital series called, “The Bucket List.”

“This started as a bucket list check off for the pieces that I always wanted to play, and there were too many that one concert wouldn’t be enough,” she said.

This project focuses on one genre of piano music for each year. According to her website, jihyechang.com, in 2017 she will be performing fantasies, 2018 will be sonatas and 2019 will feature miniatures and suites.

For her first year of the project, she will be performing preludes.

“Preludes is a genre of something that would precede something, so I think it fits that way,” she said.

Chang said Frederic Chopin is the person who “made the prelude genre as a substantial concert work,” and performed six pieces by him, one being a ballad.

Chang performed five preludes and one ballade by Chopin and two by Nikolai Kapustin along with pieces by Olivier Messiaen, Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Johann Sebastian Bach. She also played Prelude No. 8 by Korean composer Uzong Choi for the first time in America, and also a world premiere of Prelude No. 18 by Choi.

As Chang performed each prelude, her fingers moved meticulously through slower ballads and with intense precision for faster pieces.

While performing Prelude Op. 23 No. 5, G minor by Rachmanioff, Chang stood up slightly from her stool at points as she performed the emotional piece she said reminded her of Russian church bells. The piece featured soft melodic notes along with fast runs – a set of notes played in quick succession – as her fingers flew up and down the keyboard.

Chang performed Prelude Op. 53 No. 4, e minor and No. 5, D Major by Kapustin. The first was a bouncy jazz piece and the second was a slower, more melancholic piece with longer notes throughout.

The last piece Chang performed was Ballade No. 4, Op. 52 by Chopin, which she said was the piece that started her “bucket list.”

Flexing her fingers before beginning, it was the longest piece she played and she showcased her ability to perform complex and fast notes along with softer and slower high notes, all of which she performed from memory.

Chang said, “Preludes are super short. Ballades are much more substantial. It’s one movement of work with many different emotional keys and sections throughout.”

She added for the next part of her project, she will be premiering a piece from music Professor Christian Gentry, and she also plans on commissioning pieces by other new composers from America, Australia and South Korea.

Senior Matt Dabenigno said, “She is very passionate about what she does.”

Junior Cobus Saegaert said watching Chang perform “was something that I never experienced before. It was interesting and unique.”

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