Pianist inspiring Marquette students, performing Thursday

Alpin Hong plays piano for students at Marquette Senior High School, Sept. 19, 2017. (WLUC/Andrew LaCombe)

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - A classical pianist has been making Marquette Area Public Schools students smile, laugh and think this week. Alpin Hong is performing at Kaufman Auditorium Thursday night, and admission is free for all students.

Using familiar tunes and charisma, Alpin Hong has been motivating students to think deeper about music.

"They may not realize is when they listen to classical music, how it filters into their brain, and I'm going to use the music that they already know and love, pop music, movie music, video game music, to connect to this classical artistry," Hong said.

Currently the music director at Riverside Arts Academy in California, Hong said Marquette students are very engaged in music.

"That will actually help them in their other academic areas for them to have this love of learning, which I think is an essential part of having music in the schools, and so I've always been an advocate for that," he said.

Hong is in Marquette because of a grant and efforts by a group of retired teachers. Suzanne Standerford taught Hong when he lived in Michigan.

"Many years ago, in Kalamazoo, I taught a little boy, a second grader, and that year he was seven-years-old and he was featured in a city-wide concert with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra on both the piano and the violin," said Standerford.

Standerford reconnected with Hong in the past decade and worked to bring him to the Kaufman Auditorium stage.

"It's like a dream come true," she said.

Thursday night's performance will cover a wide range of music, Hong said.

"First of all for classical music lovers, you're going to get the music that you love. Debussy, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Chopin," he said. "You're going to hear the story about my life but you're also going to get a sense of who I am as a person."

All students can get into Thursday night's performance for free. It's $5 for people 62 and older and $10 for all other adults. The show at Kaufman Auditorium begins at 7 p.m.

Money raised from the performance will be put toward refurbishing the piano at Kaufman Auditorium.

A grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs is paying for Hong's visit.

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