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On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the College of Fine Arts and Communication put on their “First Wednesday” concert. The concert was free for the public and a great opportunity to experience some great talent that Western Illinois University has to offer. The concert was a Faculty Mixed Chamber concert with a bunch of amazing repertoire.
The program opened up with a piece for violin and harpsichord. “Sonata in E Major for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1016,” composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, had four movements. The great composition was performed by Western’s very own Julieta Mihai, who played on the baroque violin, and Lynn Thompson, who played on the harpsichord. This piece was an interesting opener since not many people actually know what a harpsichord sounds like. The combination of the more twangy sound of the harpsichord with the elegant sound of the violin combined smoothly for a majestic opening piece for the faculty recital.
After that wonderful opening piece, the bar was set high for the rest of the night. The next song, “As It Fell Upon A Day” was composed by Aaron Copland. This song showcased both a vocalist and instruments, all the performers were all Western Illinois University’s professors. Penelope Shumate was the vocalist and performed the soprano line while John McMurtery and Eric Ginsberg performed the instrumentation line — they played flute and clarinet, respectively. Western’s flute professor, John McMurtery had just gotten back from touring Europe with the Chicago Symphony just the weekend before the concert. The combination of the instruments with the vocal line was breathtakingly beautiful. This piece showcased the great talents that Western’s School of Music has to offer.
Continuing on with the exciting music, the next piece featured four percussionists and a horn player. The piece was composed by Randall E. Faust and was called “Prelude-Nocturne for Horn and Percussion.” The Western professors and grad students who performed with the percussion instruments were Rick Kurasz, Kevin Nichols, Nicholas Grimberg and Jose Rangel. Randall Faust performed the horn part for this piece. The combination of the percussion parts and the horn were amazing to hear and provided a different style of music for listeners who attended the concert.
The next piece was a more usual type of piece that viewers are used to seeing with an instrument accompanied by another instrument. However, this piece — “Syrinx 1 for Oboe and Piano,” composed by Richard Rodney Bennett — could not sound any more mysterious. The oboe part almost weeps as it tells the story of Syrinx as she tried to escape the Greek god, Pan. You can hear in the song the woe that Syrinx feels as she is trying to escape Pan. This piece left the viewer wanting more and empathized Syrinx’s struggle.
The last two pieces were jazzy pieces. “Lady Luck,” composed by Thad Jones, followed the oboe piece. This piece showcased the talents of John Vana, who performed on saxophone, and Matt Hughes, who played bass. The last song of the night was titled “Slugs’ in the Far East” by Peter Leitch. It showcased the talents of John Vana, Michael Stryker, Matt Hughes and Kevin Nichols. These songs were very different from the prior song with the oboe, with more of a jazz-like feel. This just goes to show how talented the faculty is at Western’s School of Music and how diverse those talents are.
If you didn’t have a chanceto see the concerts this week, you can go to the music library in Salee, where they have many recordings on file of the performances at the College of Fine Arts and Communication Hall. Don’t miss the next free concert! Stop by the College of Fine Arts and Communication building and get a list of the upcoming concerts so you can mark them down and enjoy the free entertainment that Western has to offer.