In his lecture/recital this evening at Jacksonville State University, he will demonstrate his knowledge of the instrument in not only playing its keys, but by creating special effects. His hands reach inside the piano and his fingers strum its horizontal strings. He taps various parts of the case (the wooden frame that surrounds the keys) and uses hand mallets inside the piano on the iron frame and the strings. These are just some of the ways he makes contemporary music come from a traditional, familiar instrument.
Kirchoff performs for the 6th Annual Foothills Piano Festival at 7:30 tonight in Mason Hall’s Performance Center on the JSU campus. His recital, the avante-garde composer and pianist said, will be an exploration of 21st century music. His performance goal, he adds, is to generate new audiences for contemporary music.
There is no admission fee. Everyone who loves art will enjoy this event, said Wendy Faughn, associate professor of music at JSU.
“I’m guessing most people in the audience won’t have heard a piano recital like this before,” Kirchoff predicted from his studio in Boston, Mass., during a recent telephone interview. “The very notion of chamber music with only one human being [the other players being the computer] is still new to most people.”
Faughn, who directs the festival each year, invited Kirchoff to perform after learning of him and seeing a video of his recital.
“This is an important musical event,” she said. “It’s about using the piano in a novel way. This kind of recital is a first for our venue. People should want to come and check this one out.”
Kirchoff, a young, enthusiastic musician, has performed throughout all of North America, as well as in large cities in Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Mexico and The Netherlands. He has played with orchestras throughout the United States and directs a choir in the church he attends in Boston.
His recital this evening includes electronics and video. His 2011 recording, The Electro-Acoustic Piano is available on his independent label, Thinking OutLOUD from major online music distributors.
Kirchoff will play one of his own compositions at the end of the program. His “Adventures of Norby” a work influenced by composers in music history, is a theatrical work based on the science fiction series written by Issac Asimov and his wife, Janet.
“It’s a musical diary from the life of Norby, the mixed-up robot,” the musician said. “I liked the stories as a child, and they kind of stuck with me.” Those in the audience who listen closely will hear a fugue within the piece. While this wasn’t Bach’s fugue, this part of the Norby piece is influenced by Bach, Kirchoff explained.
Many music lovers don’t feel at home with this treatment of music. They miss the hummable melodies of Chopin and Mozart, and the more relaxing and consoling tunes for the stress of daily living, it is stated in author Aaron Copeland’s What to Listen for in Music. But the chapter on this subject states: “Serious music was never meant to be just that. Contemporary music is created to wake you up, to excite you, to move you. Isn’t that the kind of stimulation for which you go to the theater, or read a book? Why make an exception for music?”
Tonight’s program is not as abstract as one may expect, according to Kirchoff.
“It’s energizing, it’s exciting,” he said, “and it’s something you can react to in a very personal way.”
He loves to perform and talk to all kinds of audiences, regardless of their music preferences.
“If the music is novel to people, all the better,” he said. “To them, it will be new and fresh. And, for most, it will be surprising.”
Art Exhibit at Nunnally’s Framing
An exhibit by East Alabama Artists Inc. will open with a reception Friday, Feb. 10, at Nunnally’s Framing, at 1014 Noble St.
The reception is from 5 to 8 p.m. Everyone is invited.
The artists, who formerly exhibited at Art Works on Noble Street, will display carving, pottery, abstract painting, fiber art, jewelry and gourds. The exhibits in this gallery will change quarterly during the year.