Music faculty delights audience

If you’ve ever tried to master a musical instrument, you know how ugly things can sometimes get. You try to follow your teacher’s instructions and practice as hard as you can, but sometimes that devious, demonic device just won’t behave.

What comes out isn’t melodious at all. Your muscles simply refuse to perform those unnatural acts. Thus, for me, making music is always a serious challenge.

Dedicated practice, however, does pay off. That was happily proven on Fannin Hall’s Arena Stage April 2 during the spring faculty instrumental recital. Richland’s instrumental faculty were preaching not only “Do as I say,” but more to the point they were demonstrating, “Do as I do.” Ten of them brilliantly walked-the-walk for an hour and a half as their rapt pupils and other music lovers watched and listened in awe.

Leading off were professors Mathew Croft, French horn, Jared Hunt, trumpet and Christian Paarup, trombone, in a performance of Francis Poulenc’s “Trio for Horn, Trumpet, and Trombone.” It was a spirited and delightful three-movement piece that reminded me of a frolicking group of dancers on a spring day.

Professor Brenton Caldwell, violist, followed with a flawless rendition of Bach’s “Prelude from Suite No. 2 in D Minor.” This is a solo piece that requires absolute attention to timing and tuning. Caldwell’s rich and resonant notes were spot-on. He returned later, accompanied by pianist Boriana Savova, to beautifully deliver Movements II and III of Piatigorsky’s version of Haydn’s haunting “Divertimento in D Major for Viola and Piano.”

Savova and fellow faculty pianist, Thiago Nascimento, then delivered a four-hand version of Johann Brahms’ familiar “Hungarian Dances #1, 2, and 5.” Seated side-by-side, their exaggerated head tosses and shoulder dips not only brought smiles to those in the audience, they showed that two sets of fingers and thumbs can actually perform as though directed by one person. Theirs was certainly a lesson in how to show your stuff and have fun doing it.

Departing from the classical genre were professors James Driscoll, bass, and Brad Williams, piano, long-time Richland favorites. They gave a relaxed and easy-going recitation of jazz pieces by Chick Corea and Ornette Coleman. Two more stellar presentations were made by the newcomer faculty duo of Brandon Kelley, saxophone, and Xio Wang, piano, who played intricate works by Ingolf Dahl and Henri Tomasi.

It was inspiring to witness such a broad selection of music so ably performed. If part of a college musical education is to expose students to the full creative world, our Richland faculty is collectively doing it very well. When you catch a cadre of professional performers like these, especially such fresh and talented ones, who make magic so perfectly, it makes every struggling student want to dash back to the practice room and work harder.

Although the chances of sounding anywhere near as perfect is, for many of us, out of reach, it is at least challenging to keep exploring the possibilities.

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