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Huntington Symphony Orchestra kicks off Winter Season with guest pianist Henning Vauth

Oct. 14, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- A past winner of prestigious piano competitions including the Schubert Prize, German native pianist Henning Vauth has played concert halls all over Europe and such hallowed halls as Lincoln Center in New York.

Come Saturday, Vauth only has to walk down the hall to go to work letting his fingers run wild -- and he couldn't be happier.

Vauth, an assistant professor of music, piano and coordinator of keyboard studies at Marshall University, is the special guest as the Huntington Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 2012-2013 Winter Season on campus at Smith Music Hall.

A celebrated pianist and past winner of the Laureate, Concours Grieg International Competition for Pianists in Norway (Schubert Prize) and IBLA Grand Prize International Piano Competition in Italy, Vauth will be featured in the concert called, "Simply Romantic," with the Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Kimo Furumoto.

Tickets are $30 for general admission seats. Doors open at 7 p.m., and performance at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20. For tickets, call 304-781-8343.

Vauth, who frequently performs recitals and piano master classes across Europe and the U.S., picked a 15-minute 19th Century piece "Symphonic Variations," by Belgium composer, Franck written during the Romantic Period to play during the concert which also features Beethoven's Egmont Overture, Opus 84a, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Opus 3 and Verdi's Anvil Chorus from "Il Trovatore."

"It's a nice piece, the piano really interacts with the orchestra in the piece," Vauth said. "The piano is still the solo instrument but the orchestra has more than simple accompaniment so you can hear different themes that are being passed from the piano to the orchestra. I think it is also very accessible for the general audience. Surprisingly it is not done very much."

Vauth, who came to Marshall in August 2011 after three years teaching at Auburn University in Alabama, said it's exciting to bring the symphony onto campus as part of the Symphony's classical winter season that also features shows at the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center as well as a blockbuster Christmas concert with the vocal legends, The Lettermen.

"It is a nice opportunity for the community and I think that is the best part about it that hopefully it draws different crowds to the symphony," Vauth said. "We make music for people, so it is always nice to have a concert on campus that can draw people from outside of Marshall University."

Vauth, who already has performance dates next semester at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill as well as in Palm Beach, Fla., said he is honored to play with the symphony and has been very happy with the number of performance opportunities for him as he has played with everyone from the Wind Ensemble to a massive show last spring with the West Virginia Symphony Chorus, the MU Orchestra and MU Choral Union.

"Every semester there has been something and they have really taken care of my performance needs," Vauth said. "Apart from the musical satisfaction, of course, it is great to connect with people. We are making music for people and we are glad they can come to hear it."

In particular, Vauth said he is relishing the chance to play with the Symphony.

"As a pianist we have our perks but we don't get the ensemble experience that other instruments or singers have," he said. "The piano is not an orchestral instrument per se so it is a nice experience to be part of a group."

Vauth, who came to the United States about 10 years ago to study piano at Western Michigan University, got his Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance and Literature at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

Although piling intense hours of practice on top of a full teaching load is a challenge, Vauth said for him teaching and performing are mutually beneficial to his growth in both disciplines.

"When I learn music I encounter the same problems my students encounter, on a different level of course, but I struggle with certain technical or musical problems and then try to come up with solutions for them. By doing that myself constantly, I know how to deal with problems and help students," Vauth said. "On the other hand by teaching them I become very conscience about their problems and verbalizing it then in return makes me reflect on my own playing and makes me able to better deal with my own issues. I think it goes hand in hand for me anyway."

Whether it is helping a student try to tackle an incredibly difficult piece with as many as 1,800 notes per minute, or researching and writing academic papers on piano, or playing himself, Vauth said the instrument that he began as a child casually taking piano lessons, continues to have a hold on him.

"I think one of the things I like is that the piano is always challenging me," Vauth said. "With music you can always go deeper. You are never perfect. That might seem frustrating at first, but it actually isn't. It is very satisfying to go deeper and deeper and deeper. If I dig out an old piece I have played before, if I play it again there is always something new that I notice. It is like a new discovery every time."

If you go

WHAT: "Simply Romantic," the first concert of the Huntington Symphony Orchestra's winter season

WHO: Guest artist is German-born, award-winning pianist Henning Vauth, assistant professor of music - piano and coordinator of keyboard studies at Marshall University. Laureate, Concours Grieg International Competition for Pianists in Norway (Schubert Prize) and IBLA Grand Prize International Piano Competition in Italy. Performances at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Salle Munch in Paris, and Salle Molière in Lyon, France.

WHEN: Doors open at 7 p.m., and performance at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20

WHERE: Smith Music Hall, Marshall University

HOW MUCH: Open seating, $30

GET TIX: Call 304-781-8343

MORE ABOUT VAUTH: In addition to his acclaim as a performer, Vauth has also been researching and publishing as well. He has been peer-reviewed, co-authored articles in Human Movement Science (Influence of Practice on the Development of Motor Skills in Pianists, 2009) and Movement Disorders (Quantification of Focal Dystonia in Pianists using Scale Analysis, 2004), in collaboration with the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine at the HMT Hannover.

ON DECK WITH THE SYMPHONY: Dec. 15: Holiday Memories with The Lettermen at Big Sandy Superstore Arena; March 16: A Celtic Celebration with flutist Wendell Dobbs.

ON THE WEB: Go online at www.huntingtonsymphonyorchestra. org for more info.