Pak ’12 displays emotion, diversity at senior recital

Daniel Pak performs his senior recital. (Julia Carleton/The Phoenix)
Daniel Pak performs his senior recital. (Julia Carleton/The Phoenix)

On September 24 at 8 p.m., Daniel Pak ’12 held his senior recital at the Lang Concert Hall. In this one and a half hour performance, he drew a time axis of music by playing a variety of pieces from different periods of history, ranging from Scarlatti’s Sonata in B minor to Chopin’s Scherzo No. I in B minor.

“I wanted to cover each kind of time period,” Pak said. He explained that the pieces he played were from five different composers and represented five different time periods. Domenico Scarlatti, the Italian composer, represents a Baroque period while Ludwig Van Beethoven and Frédéric François Chopin are classified as Classical and Romantic period composers, respectively. Charles Edward Ives marks the early 20th century American music style while Claude-Achille Debussy, a French composer, shows the impressionist music which, unlike the strict rhythm in Beethoven’s pieces, is more free.

Pak said he tries his best to incorporate his own emotions into different melodies and to show the audiences how music is emotional, colorful and serious. “You have to take music seriously and you have to listen to music seriously. Especially for classical music, you really have to employ all your senses to really understand it,” Pak said.

“You can get to what the composers want to express by following the markings on the pieces, but at the same time you also need to add some of your personality to the piece. Everyone plays a piece differently and it will always sound different. You have to realize what’s your goal to achieve in this piece, while still maintaining the integrity of it,” he said.

When Pak practiced for Scarlatti’s pieces, he used an original version which contains no signs of tempo and no dynamic markings, only notes. By playing the notes themselves and creating stories in his head, he began to understand Scarlatti’s mood at that time. “Scarlatti’s Sonata in B minor is very meditative and reflective. It’s about thinking of the past very seriously for a long time. For the D major one, I just want to keep it very light, fun and almost childish.”

The emotion he displayed greatly impressed the audiences. Samuel Buchl ’13 commented, “I thought he did very well, as he played such a diverse range of music. He started with music with slower tempo and finished with a very stunning piece. He handled it very well.”

Linda Gai ’14 said, “I think his performance [was] really good. The pieces are very beautiful. I especially like[d] the Scarlatti’s Sonata in E Major. I’ve never attended a piano recital before. I think I am going to make time for it in the future.”

People often say that a one-minute performance onstage takes ten years to practice offstage. Having studied the piano for almost 14 years, he said “I couldn’t imagine my life without it.” He started taking music classes at Swarthmore ever since his first semester. According to him, what he learned from his piano teacher, Professor Marcantonio Barone, is not just the technical piano skills but the emotion to display when playing a piece and the attitude toward music.

“I think he is one of the teachers who really taught me that I have to give everything to my music, to take it very seriously. It’s not just about playing the notes, but expressing a lot more,” Pak said.

Together with the support of his professors, Pak also benefits from being a part of the chamber music group. He considers it helpful, though a little challenging when it comes to developing and learning music together in such a large group.

“I am planning on continuing taking lessons for piano and performing in the future,” Pak said. Majoring in Chemistry, he believes music and science can complement each other. These two fields combine the ideas of harmony and order of the world from different perspectives. According to Pak, learning music, like studying science, also requires a lot of effort and hard work to achieve what one wants to accomplish.

“Music is like freedom to me. It’s just beyond this world,” he said. Pak hopes more people can truly appreciate music, especially classical music. “These composers are geniuses. It’s all inspired music. Today’s modern music is cool and I appreciate it as well. But it’s never going to have that same level of intensity of emotion as these classical pieces. I really hope that our generation understands classical music more, pursues it and just keeps it alive.”

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