Tag Archives: Pedal

How to Expect the Unexpected

Today is Ensemble Kiowa’s competition day and, as often happens, there is a problem that requires special handling. The piano on which we will be competing does not have an operational sostenuto pedal.

Not a problem, you think? Who uses it anyway? Our Ensemble Kiowa pianist, a marvelous KU doctoral student named Cong Cong Chai, does. He and I have worked out our pedalings very carefully for this program, including the sostenuto, and its use is notated in our cool, funky contemporary piece Techno-Parade (2002) by the French composer Giles Connesson.

Deann Brown and the MTNA West Central Division Competition staff have been very fair. They gave us an extra 15-minute rehearsal in the concert hall, and will inform the judges about the problem. The North Dakota State tuner was great, too; he tried his best to fix it, but “no go”.

I always tell students that the contestants who remain cool, stay focused and make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation are often the winners. Ensemble Kiowa will have a chance to test that today!

This short video is from the end of our 15-minute session. I have my students review competition pieces in reverse order, ending with the work that they will play first in the competition. It my view, this imprints the all-important opening firmly in their minds. So this is excerpts from their first piece, Aram Khachaturian’s Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano, third, second and finally first movements, with loud interjected comments from me. The shaky camera-work is mine, too.


Ensemble Kiowa is Margaret Lambie, flute; Mickayla Chapman, clarinet: Man (Mandy) Wang, violin; and Cong Cong Chai, piano, all students at the University of Kansas. The group is co-coached by my KU colleague, Dr. Michael Kirkendoll and me.


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