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Happy 200th, Chopin

Barry McNamara
10/01/2010
Two Monmouth College students and a music professor will commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of composer Frédéric Chopin with a lecture and recital on Oct. 3

Free and open to the public, the program will be presented at 2 p.m. in the college’s Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.

Junior Elizabeth Keturi of Chillicothe and freshman Mitchell Heuermann of Peoria spent three weeks this summer exploring the world of Chopin under the supervision of associate professor of music Ian Moschenross as part of the college’s new Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activity (SOFIA) program. Born March 1, 1810, in Poland, Chopin was one of the great masters of Romantic music.

SOFIA projects emphasize research, creative activity and student-faculty collaboration. The Chopin project involved three main components: reading and discussion, learning repertoire and travel. In the reading and discussion component, the students and Moschenross read a great deal of biographical and analytical material on Chopin’s life and works, meeting periodically to discuss what they had learned. The repertoire component involved individual practice time, and group lessons focused on a selected number of piano solos by Chopin, culminating in the upcoming public performance. Last month, the students presented samples of their work during a matriculation day event.

The final component of the project was a trip to the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, which houses a large collection of historic keyboard instruments dating as far back as the early 15th century. It also features a number of well-preserved pianos from the 19th century. The purpose of the visit was to provide the students with a hands-on experience with the technology Chopin would have had in mind while composing his piano works.