The noontime recital in Fannin Hall on Feb. 21 was a pleasant surprise for the audience on multiple accounts. First was the appearance of Richland music professor Jordan Kuspa at the microphone as program host. Second was the arrival of some special guests.
Kuspa is frequently onstage as the director of one of Richland's string ensembles and less often as an accomplished cellist. On Tuesday, he stepped out front to deliver some interesting comments and program notes about the works to be performed by the featured artists: Richland music professor Sharon Knox Deuby on clarinet, Plano Symphony's Steve Pettey on oboe and University of Texas at Arligton. Professor Laura Bennett Cameron on bassoon. Together, the trio is known as Les Vents Legers et Variable, or The Winds, Light and Changeable. The musicians are also regular players in the larger and nationally prestigious group the Dallas Winds.
Besides giving the players a well-needed break between the strenuous and demanding pieces, Kuspa shared his observations about one of the female composers whose work was featured in the program and made a brief appeal to the women musicians in the audience to explore their own creative inclinations by enrolling in one of his composition classes.
For a magical hour, the three wind players performed a challenging range of modern and classical wind pieces by mainly French and Spanish composers. The program also included a too-seldom-heard theme and variation number by Beethoven based on Mozart's opera “Don Giovanni.” In this piece, as well as in the other works, the three artists communicated amongst themselves through their body language and eye movement reflecting how a precision-practiced professional group perfectly coordinates its intricate performance. At one point, when an opening entrance was miscued, they had the courage to halt and begin again, thus demonstrating for their student audience that even professional musicians are human.
The second surprise came at the end of the wind trio's appearance. The music program was followed by an unannounced performance by Chinese dancers. The women, dressed in bright yellow kimonos and carrying various colored parasols, are part of a group of 17 English teachers who are guests of the Richland World Language Department. The instructors, from Xiangtan County in the Hunan Province of China, are participating in an ESOL Teacher Training Program facilitated by the American English and Culture Institute (AECI) and the Continuing Education English as a Second Language (ESL) program. They performed a series of fascinating maneuvers, set to a recorded accompaniment of Chinese music, depicting various emotions ranging from serious to comedic. When they bowed deeply upon the conclusion of their show, they were met with much merry applause.