Marquette prides itself on providing an education that fosters the development of mind and spirit, but it also offers countless chances for students to expand their knowledge beyond academic courses. Unfortunately, many times valuable opportunities pass by unnoticed.
Luckily, at least one such opportunity awaits the Marquette community in the very near future.
Each year, the Marquette Symphony Orchestra invites a soloist to join them for their winter concert. This year’s guest will be world-renowned pianist Jeff Hwaen Ch’uqi. Born in Peru and blinded at an early age, Ch’uqi was abandoned by his biological parents before being adopted and brought to live in Pennsylvania by George and Inez Tomlinson. This is where, at the age of five, he was introduced to the instrument that would eventually earn him respect with an international music audience.
Ch’uqi attended Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York, where he studied piano performance and, during his freshman year, roomed with the current conductor of the Marquette Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Jason Ladd. Since graduating, he has established himself in numerous countries, touring the U.S., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Russia, and Taiwan, among others.
At the end of the month, Ch’uqi’s travels will bring him to our university, to share his story and talents on a campus where the arts are often overlooked.
On Feb. 27, Ch’uqi will take to the stage alongside the 37-piece orchestra in the Varsity Theatre, as they perform Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, but the concert will be only one bullet point on his to-do list while on campus. Throughout the week leading up to the performance, Ch’uqi will be offering free, hour-long piano lessons to any interested students. No experience required.
Kali MacDonald, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences and treasurer of the orchestra, hopes this will be an opportunity for students to embrace and appreciate the presence of musical organizations on campus.
“The people who are involved in music definitely give a lot of recognition to the music,” she said. “It’s kind of like high school, where all the sports events were huge to go to, but music concerts weren’t.”
The orchestra’s secretary, sophomore Eric Stolz, shares the same goals for their future. He has even envisioned a fusion of contemporary music and orchestral technique that would be sure to engage a wider audience.
“I think it would be cool if we did a pops concert,” he said, adding that perhaps if the orchestra took on a Lady Gaga compilation, more people would get excited about attending performances.
Until then, there is still plenty to look forward to. The excitement demonstrated by the orchestra’s leaders proves the dedication and dynamic capability of the group. With greater support from students and faculty alike, it can only continue to grow.
Ch’uqi has made a commitment to share his talent with the entire university. Marquette, let’s show him what a strong community we really are.
by Amanda Stewart
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