“Anytime I put together a program … I always treat [it] a bit like a gourmet dinner,” Derek Yaple-Schobert explained. A world-renowned musician and pianist, Yaple-Schobert is scheduled to perform a program of classical music today as a part of the Department of Music’s concert series.
But don’t let Yaple-Schobert’s gourmet dinner comparison scare you away. This isn’t your grandma’s classical music.
“Variety is really important,” Schobert continued, “and also what pieces go well with other pieces is the same thing in a really nice meal. I mean, I love meat and potatoes and I love dessert, what makes it a more satisfying experience is to have variety in the meal. Soup, salad, hors d’oeurves, appetizers … In that sense I just sort of fix groups of pieces for the program on Thursday.”
Yaple-Schobert’s program on Thursday night encompasses a wide range of music, from pieces the audience is sure to recognize, like Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” to the popular, but perhaps less well known, works of Edvard Grieg.
“The Beethoven ‘Moonlight Sonata’ is really sort of one of the meat and potatoes pieces,” Yaple-Schobert said. “I’m opening with a set of variations by Hayden, which are on the lighter side, a little more delicate on the early side of music history. I’ve also got something called the Asylum Waltz, which is a rather entertaining piece. I’m also playing three works by Edvard Greig, the Norwegian composer.”
If some of that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. Yaple-Schobert said his performance is designed to show students of music ways of getting audiences excited about classical music again.
“I’m always trying to get more people excited about classical music the same way I was when I was younger,” Yaple-Schobert said. “If you look at the radio stations … there [isn’t] any ‘classical music’ to listen to. So I just thought I’d show the students what one can do to get people back into the concert hall, so to speak.”
Another way Yaple-Schobert hopes to inspire his audience, whether they have a background in music or not, is to teach a master class after his performance.
“It’s sort of like an open lesson,” said Christine Vanderkooy, associate professor of music. “And it’s a really sort of common pedagogical practice across the field of the music … so the student will perform and the teacher will coach in front of an audience. The idea is that the audience is getting the benefit of watching the teacher.”
“It’s a lesson that’s done in public,” added John Wiebe, choral director in the department of music. “But it really is for the benefit of the public probably as much or more than … for the person who’s getting the lesson.”
Both Wiebe and Vanderkooy said that even if you don’t have a background in piano, or in music at all, you’ll learn something.
“We encourage students to come regardless of what their instrument is,” Vanderkooy said. “But because music is so universal and ideas can transfer across instruments it can be really valuable for everyone to come.”
“I think there’s two things I can think of that you’d get if you came from outside of the music department or outside of a musical background and watched a master class,” Wiebe added.
“One would be you’d have an eye into the musical world, what it takes to succeed as a musician. And the other thing that I think or I would hope you would probably get out of it is, ‘Hey, those are some universal principles that they’re sort of working on.’
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in journalism or the sciences, this idea of this dedication to excellence, that if you’re pursuing an idea that you completely that you’re thorough in how you approach it or how you attack it and you have a high standard in everything that you do.”