Violinist Berofsky, pianist Hwangbo to give School of Music faculty recital





What do Thelonious Monk, Richard Linklater and the man who invented the sazerac cocktail have in common?

They’re the three people violinist Aaron Berofsky would like to meet in a bar.

“Thelonious Monk is a fantastic jazz pianist,” Berofsky said. “He seemed like somebody that just didn’t care what anybody thought and did what he loved, and I love his music.”

Berofsky, professor at the University of Michigan and a newly added faculty member within the School of Music, will be giving a recital with pianist Ellen Hwangbo at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. As someone who has a hobby of mixing cocktails and enjoyed Linklater’s “Boyhood,” Berofsky’s list of people he’d like to buy a drink is just as mixed as the pieces he will perform.

Their program includes Beethoven’s Sonata in G Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 30 No. 3; Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Much Ado About Nothing Suite, Op. 11; and César Franck’s Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano.

“We’re doing a Beethoven sonata — it’s the happiest and friendliest of all of them,” Berofsky said.

The Korngold piece, he said, is more “sophisticated.”

Hwangbo, who has experience in chamber music and is a founding member of the small ensemble, Consortium Ardesia, said the program is unique.

“The Franck sonata is so emotional, and that’s going to be fun to play because it’s going to draw every energy out of us,” Hwangbo said. “The suite that we’re playing, it consists of four little pieces. It’s very accessible, it’s very cute, very romantic, very pretty. That’s going to be hopefully fun for us and the audience.”

Hwangbo said the Beethoven sonata is very interesting: It’s one of few without a slow movement.

“Usually, you think of Beethoven, and it’s very dramatic and dark and bipolar and dynamic,” Hwangbo said. “This sonata in G Major has three movements, but it doesn’t have slow movements, and there’s barely any spots in minor.”

Performing with Hwangbo is something Berofsky said he will be looking forward to this afternoon. They met in Michigan, where Hwangbo completed her undergraduate studies nearly a decade ago, but played together for the first time when they were both abroad in Italy last year.

“She’s very open-minded. She’s also excellent,” Berofsky said. “She can play with great conviction, but it’s not close-minded. So I try to play with her whenever I have a chance.”

Hwangbo, who also has extensive educating experience and maintains a private teaching studio at the Levine School of Music, has been playing chamber music since her early childhood, playing piano with her sister on violin.

“When you play chamber music, you are controlling part of the music, but the other parts are controlled by other people and you just do your best to blend in together,” Hwangbo said. “We got to play chamber music from a very young age, and when you start to play with other people you realize that you can take part in making music that’s bigger than you.”