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Keyboard Calculations: Juniata Math Professor Performs Piano Recital

(Posted March 24, 2010)

John Bukowski, professor of mathematics, will perform a piano recital at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 28 in Rosenberger Auditorium.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Mathematician John Bukowski is used to performing feats on a calculator keyboard in front of 20 or so students, but the multitalented Juniata College educator will vastly expand his usual audience by performing a piano recital on campus at 3 p.m., March 28, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

The recital is free and open to the public.

Bukowski, professor of mathematics at Juniata, is an accomplished musician who, in addition to his teaching and administrative duties, provides musical accompaniment at the college's Commencement ceremony and often plays piano for Juniata's Concert Choir, Choral Union and other musical groups.

Bukowski will open the concert with "Children's Songs," by jazz pianist Chick Corea. Bukowski will play seven of Corea's songs, which were written as a collection of 20 tunes for children. Corea is a famous jazz pianist known as a sideman for Miles Davis and as leader of his own band and the legendary fusion band Return to Forever.

Much of the material in Bukowski's recital is Brazilian or inspired by Brazil. He will also "go on an international tour" by playing the same program June 8 at the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador, Brazil.

His next selections will focus on Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, who is considered the country's greatest composer. Villa-Lobos is noted for combining Brazilian folk music with classical elements. Bukowski's first selection, "Prelude," from "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4," is an example of this. The title translates as "Brazilian Bach Pieces." He also will perform Villa Lobos' "A Mahna da Pierrete."

George Gershwin's "Prelude No. 3" will be the next selection, followed by selections from "Saudades do Brazil," by famed French composer Darius Milhaud. Milhaud wrote a suite of 12 dances for piano (averaging about two minutes in length) inspired by South American music.

Bukowski then will explore early American music as he plays legendary ragtime composer Scott Joplin's "Pine Apple Rag." Ragtime, which is acknowledged as one of the precursors of jazz, is best known to popular music audiences through Joplin's music used in the movie "The Sting."

The concert will end with two selections by Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth: "Topazio Liquido" and "Espalhafatoso." Nazareth is best known for his tangos but he composed many classical tunes. Darius Milhaud wrote his Brazilian dances after hearing Nazareth play at a Rio de Janeiro movie theater.

Bukowski joined the Juniata faculty in 1997 after earning his master's degree and doctoral degree in applied mathematics from Brown University in Providence, R.I. He earned a bachelor's degree in both mathematics and physics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In 1998-99, he was a fellow of Project NExT, a national program sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America for new faculty interested in improving the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics. He was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and serves as chair of the mathematics department.â?¨ He was promoted to full professor in 2009.

He is a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.