Musicians Richard Tang Yuk and Liam Teague will perform this evening at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, in the second of their two-night Piano and Pan Recital, which opened last night at Naparima Bowl. With Tang Yuk on piano and Teague on pan, the recital puts the two instruments in musical dialogue with each other.
Both Trinidad-born and resident in the USA, Teague and Tang Yuk are accomplished in their fields. Teague is the head of steelpan studies and associate professor of music at Northern Illinois University. Tang Yuk is artistic director and founder of the Princeton Festival.
Tang Yuk and Teague will play music from different classical periods. “Some people may think of classical music in one bag but imagine if a foreigner listened to a soca song, a chutney or extempo and called it all calypso, or ‘island music.’
The classical realm is extremely varied in style and we have selected pieces that represent many of those styles, including baroque, romantic, impressionistic, Latin-American and contemporary classical,” says Tang Yuk.
The recital’s programme of music includes Winter from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi, the first movement of the Bach Violin Concerto in A Minor, Serenade by Schubert, two Viennese songs by Fritz Kreisler, a Chopin Nocturne and a piece by Nicolo Paganini called Moto Perpetuo.
The recital spotlights the pan as an instrument with the capacity to render classical music with flair. “I have always tried to demonstrate the beauty, profundity and uniqueness of the pan by playing in a myriad number of styles. Being able to work with a musician as supremely gifted as Richard Tang Yuk allows me to do this with ease,” says Teague.
The pan will largely be used to play pieces that have been originally composed for the violin. “Choosing music for the concert took some thought,” Tang Yuk says. “Pan is our indigenous instrument, so if it is not playing soca or calypso, there is not much repertoire that is written specifically for it. First, we took into consideration what transcribes well for the pan, which has a limited range.
Not everything that is written for another instrument can be transcribed successfully. We did not, however, intentionally select music composed for the violin—it just sort of turned out that way. While the violin has a larger range than the tenor pan, some of the techniques required of the violin like double and triple stops—playing two or three notes simultaneously—are possible on the pan.
All wind instruments and the voice can only produce one note at a time. The pan can play two notes at once because the pannist holds two sticks. In the concert, Liam will be playing one of his own compositions entitled Visit to Hell, where at one point he uses three sticks, making three notes possible, like on the violin.”
The recital includes the world premiere of a piece entitled Grotesque, which has been specifically written for the pan and piano by Illinois composer Ben Wahlund. Wahlund’s piece draws inspiration from Francis Bacon’s dark and chilling painting Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X.
The musical piece also pays tribute to Igor Stravinsky, the 20th-century Russian composer. “It uses Stravinsky’s style of repeating patterns called ostinati, a complex rhythmic texture and a 20th-century harmonic style characterised by dissonance,” says Tang Yuk. “This composition is very different from almost anything that currently exists in the pan repertoire and we hope our audiences will be thoroughly pleased—and shocked—with it,” adds Teague.
Everything in the recital is not planned. “I will demonstrate my ability to improvise by playing a medley of pieces which I will decide on when I step on the stage,” Teague promises. “I like doing this as it really challenges my creativity and brings me into exciting musical territory. My hope is that our audiences will leave the concert being stimulated from an emotional and intellectual perspective and, just as important to us, have a lot of fun.”
The Piano and Pan Recital by Richard Tang Yuk and Liam Teague starts at 5.30 pm at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s. Part proceeds will go to the Guardian Neediest Cases Fund and the Trinidad and Tobago Music Literacy Trust. Info: 727-1907.