The Music Of Bela Bartok

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Alex Peh and Friends filled the auditorium at Studley Theatre kicking off the Kenneth Davenport Residency for New American Music.

The evening consisted of percussionists, Christopher Clarino and Christopher Howard, and pianists, Wenyin Chan, alongside Alex Peh, who performed the American works by Steve Reich and Mark Applebaum.

“It really started with Christopher Clarino contacting me and wanting to do this Bartók Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.  It was a piece that I had always wanted to play, but we never had the chance.  So I thought finally now I could put this program together,” said Alex Peh, the Assistant Professor of Piano at SUNY New Paltz.

According to Peh, the music for the concert was chosen on behalf of new American music that was experimental in nature.

The first performance was “Aphasia,” a piece by Mark Applebaum, performed by Christopher Clarino.  The second performance was “Marimba Phase,” a piece by Steve Reich, performed by Christopher Clarino and Christopher Howard.  The last performance was the “Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion” by Béla Bartók, performed by all.

“This is the first time we are doing it, but I think because everyone is so trained and everyone is so good, they just put things together like that,” said Peh.

Although putting everything together was a challenging feat, Christopher Clarino, a second-year doctorial student at University of California San Diego, said it was a lot of fun and they had a great time in the process.

“I really enjoyed working with Alex, Wenyin and Chris on the Bartók.”

Audience member Leslie Gerber, a music critic for The Woodstock Times, found the contemporary music interesting.

“Watching that guy on stage before he started his coordination with the electronic piece was amazing!  Their coordination was really excellent and the balance was really excellent – you could hear everything.  I was very happy with this concert,” Gerber said.

Aside from the concert performed in Studley Theatre, the performance was also held in Wallkill Senior High School, an event organized by both Peh and Clarino.

“Chris originally went to Wallkill Senior High School so he wanted to do an educational outreach there.  It is part of the strategic plan here at SUNY to be doing outreach programs for the community and Wallkill being the local high school, we thought that would be nice,” Peh said.

Alex Peh is credited for his participation in the Aspen Music Festival and the Banff Centre Keyboard Festival.  Wenyin Chan is known for her solo activities and various awards that have brought her national recognition.  Christopher Clarino is the co-founder of Volta Trio and Proactive Percussion, a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering the public’s love for percussion music.  Christopher Howard is known for his versatile background that has allowed him to experiment with various musical genres.

The next concert in the series of the Davenport Residency for New American Music is on Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. in Parker Theatre.  Phyllis Chen, students and faculty, will collaborate to perform her newest works: “Columba” (with a piano), “Mobius” (with two music boxes) and “Lighting the Dark” (with music boxes, clavichord, accordion and electronics).