Humorous & soulful sounds on tap as BGSU pianists take center stage at library atrium


BG Independent News

Laughter is not the usual response to music performed at a piano recital, but that’s the reaction Varis Vatcharanukul has gotten when he’s performed “The Body of Your Dreams.”

The composition by Dutch contemporary composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis, known as JacobTV, will close the piano concert in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library Monday March 19 at 7 p.m. The rest of the program will features classics by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, and Chopin.

Vatcharanukul said he wanted to tackle some contemporary music and his teacher Thomas Rosenkranz suggested “The Body of Your Dreams” for piano and boom box.

JacobTV is an apt stage name for someone who uses fragments of TV dialogue to build his compositions around.

In the case of “Body” he has sampled an advertisement for a body conditioning device. He shaped music lines inspired by the rhythms of the hyperbolic sales pitch. The pianist performs these in counterpoint to cut-and-pasted shards of male and female voices.

The result is music easy to understand even for listeners new to contemporary music. “It’s not like that kind of new music,” Vatcharanukul said. It’s tonal and not particularly dissonant, with rhythms that evoke jazz rock. “That can catch audience,” he said.

“Body” is also highly rhythmic, and it grows in intensity as the sales pitch continues. The piece is not simple though. Vatcharanukul said he’s not able to pay too much attention to the audience’s reaction because he has to concentrate, listening both what he’s playing and making sure it locks in with the voices on the tape.

Vatcharanukul, who comes from Bangkok, Thailand, is in his last semester as an undergraduate piano performance major. He came to study with Rosenkranz.

Over his five years at Bowling Green State University, he has played numerous times in the library’s atrium. He likes the mix of listeners. Some are knowledgeable about music, others aren’t. “It’s really nice I can do something for those people,” he said.

Rosenkranz, who organizes the library recitals, said the students enjoy playing for their peers, in a less stressful situation. A pianist can feel isolated spending so many hours a day in the practice room. This gives them a chance to get out and share the music they have worked so long on.

“They see it as a chance to grow,” Rosenkranz said.

Ioanna Nikou came from Greece to study with Robert Satterlee after she met him when he presented a seminar in her native land. She knew she wanted to go abroad for graduate school, and Satterlee put Bowling Green on the map for her.

She will open the concert with a piece that does not elicit laughter, J.S. Bach’s “Chromatic Fantasy.”

She loves the spiritual qualities of the piece and the challenge of bringing out each of note in the lines. Each note is important.

Nikou said she wanted to learn this piece because she has been studying Rachmaninov’s massive Concerto No. 2. She needed a break from the grandeur and romantic intensity of the concerto, something “more calm, more spiritual.”

Performing the piece from memory is also a key to connecting with its inner workings. “Every pianist can connect to a special composer or piece,” she said. “Whenever he doesn’t have the score in from of him, he just connects with the sound.”

This will be Nikou’s first time performing in the atrium but she has attended recitals there to hear her friends. She’s happy to have a chance to perform there herself now. “I love the atmosphere. I love the room. I love the fact that people walk around with the music in their ears.”