Consider the power of art with For Freedoms

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The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University is proud to be one of many distinguished arts organizations throughout the country participating in the momentous For Freedoms 50 State Initiative. Founded by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms was inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The museum is actively participating in For Freedoms through the display of four works of art from its permanent collection. The works will be identified with special gallery signage and the For Freedoms logo, prompting visitors to consider the power of art in the context of a democracy. In addition to the artworks on display, two programs in the Community Films and Conversations series will be branded as For Freedoms initiatives and will include voter registration opportunities hosted by the League of Women Voters of East Alabama.

Logo For Freedoms 50 State Initiative
Leopoldo Méndez The Revolutionary, 1946 Linocut Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; Robert B. Ekelund Jr. and Mark Thornton Collection

Freedom of Speech

The title of this print is “The Revolutionary.”

  • What do you assume about the action in this scene?
  • Where is the viewer placed in relation to the young man?
  • How is holding his body? Think about his shoulders, chest, and chin
  • Describe the expression on his face.

Leopold Méndez, The Revolutionary, 1946, Linocut, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, The Robert B. Ekelund and Mark Thornton Collection.

Freedom from Fear Christina Cordova (American, b. 1976) Mi Familia, 2010 ceramic and metal wire Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University Museum purchase with funds from the 1072 Society

Freedom from Fear

Our first feelings of security come from our relationships with our families.

  • Think about how the figures are arranged?
  • What besides the title suggests that this group is a family?
  • How do the people feel? How do you know?
  • What might the metal birds represent?

Christina Cordova, Mi Familia, 2010, ceramic and metal wire, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Museum purchase with funds from the 1072 Society.

Seated Figure of Gautama Buddha China, Ming Dynasty, Yongle era, 1403 – 1425 Gilt bronze Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. The Joan Cousins Hartman Collection of Tibetan Bronzes.

Freedom of Worship

Inscribed on the top of the lotus platform is “Da Ming Yunglo nien shi,” or “Done (or donated) in the Yongle era of the Great Ming Dynasty).” This sculpture was sent from the Ming court as an offering to a ranking member of the Buddhist religious community in Tibet. The reason this sculpture and other Tibetan religious artifacts came into personal and public collections in the mid-twentieth century is that the Chinese People’s republic annexed Tibet in 1950 and began a systematic suppression of Tibetan culture and Buddhist practice. Temples and monasteries were destroyed, and many deconsecrated religious artifacts came onto the art market. This object is an essential example of the importance of JCSM’s mission to preserve, enhance, research, and interpret works of art in our collection. The Buddha, situated on a lotus platform, reaches down with his right hand to touch the ground. This gesture is recognized in Tibetan Buddhist iconography as an invocation for the earth deity to bear witness to his awakening.

  • What parts of the sculpture convey spirituality and enlightenment?
  • Think about the material, texture, and composition of the object, the pose of the figure, and the facial features of the Buddha.
Installation of Ben Shahn's Hunger from Art Interrupted exhibition, 2012

Freedom from Want

  • How did the artist convey the child’s need?
  • Think about the implied position of the viewer, the prominence of the boy’s hand, the treatment of his face and neck, and the use of color.

Ben Shahn, Hunger, 1946, gouache on composition board, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Advancing American Art Collection.

Alabama institutions also participating in For Freedoms include Alabama Contemporary Arts Center (Mobile), Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Museum of Art, Coleman Center for the Art (York), Institute for Human Rights (University of Alabama Birmingham), Mobile Museum of Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Paul r. Jones Museum of Art at University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, and Wiregrass Museum of Art (Dothan). Visit FORFREEDOMS.ORG for full details.

Soprano Jacquie Cruz

Inspirational singer performs classical, Broadway, and patriotic Music

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On Thursday, September 6, from noon to 1:00 p.m., JCSM presents soprano Jacquie Cruz with pianist Gary Klarenbeek for A Little Lunch Music. An inspirational singer and formally trained soprano, Ms. Cruz will perform works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as well as a collection of well-known Broadway tunes, hymns, and patriotic songs. A gift from Friends of the Series has helped to make this performance possible. The café menu is available online.

Headshot of Jacquie Cruz, soprano

There has never been a time when music wasn’t part of the life of soprano Jacquie Cruz. Born into a musical family in which her dad is a music minister, singing was as natural as breathing. As a child, she discovered her passion for vocal music following her family’s move to Auburn, Alabama in 2001. She has performed with her father in churches throughout Alabama, Iowa, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas.

Noted composer and arranger, Mary McDonald shares, “Jacquie Cruz has the voice of an angel! Music stemming from the depths of her soul journeys from heart to heaven as she gives flight to every note she sings. She loves sharing her faith through her music and will captivate her audience with inner and outward beauty that lights up a room.”

Derric Johnson, award-wining composer, arranger, writer, educator and minister of music, discovered Jacquie’s vocal abilities during a trip to Auburn in 2017. Jacquie sung for him and his wife Debbie Johnson, who has sung for four United States presidents and in over thirty-five thousand performances with the Voices of Liberty at Epcot Center. This meeting led to a collaboration which resulted in the production of Jacquie’s first professional album.

Derric shared, “To hear Jacquie Cruz is to remember her forever. Her stage presence is charming, her delivery is sparkling and her inspiration is enduring.”

Jacquie feels equally at home delivering a Gospel standard or offering a power ballad. She hopes to convey a message that is transparent and at the same time powerfully poignant, presenting faith and courage to all who hear. These ideals led to the title of “HopeFull” for her first professional recording project.

Jacquie is a perennial favorite in the Auburn-Opelika area, whether performing the “National Anthem” for thousands of fans at Auburn University sporting events or in concerts throughout the southeast. A graduate of Auburn High School, she went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance and Communications from Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music in Columbus, Georgia.

Jacquie states, “Whether I sing a simple hymn, sacred classics, a Broadway show tune, or a dramatic sacred ballad, my goal is to dedicate all I sing to Him, my Creator who gave me this gift. To Him be the glory. My greatest passion is to use the gift He’s given me to bring a message of strength and hope to the listener.”

Jacquie and her husband, Melvin, (Wally) were married in 2008 and have a two young sons, Wally J and Jackson, and a daughter, Lacey Jane, who is one year old.

Gary Klarenbeek was born and raised in the small farming community of Rock Rapids, Iowa. He discovered his musical passions at an early age when he began studying piano at age four. From piano he continued on to study organ, voice, and trumpet. In addition, he had a great passion for musical theatre and played lead roles in numerous musicals including “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Music Man,” “Oliver,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Gary graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a triple major in Church Music and Organ and Voice performance from Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa. Following college, Gary and his bride, Julie, his childhood sweetheart, moved to St. Louis for his first church appointment. Gary has since served churches in Houston, Texas; Naples, Florida and currently serves as Director of Music Ministries at Auburn United Methodist Church in Auburn, Alabama.

Besides his musical passions, Gary enjoys travel, spending time at the beach, reading, shopping (especially for ties and antiques), cooking for family and entertaining guests, and gardening. Most of all, he cherishes quality family time at home.

The Klarenbeeks are parents to Jacquie Cruz. They have a second daughter, Ashlee. She is a graduate of Auburn University and now works and resides in Athens, Georgia with her husband Terrell and son Cooper.

Pianist plays songs from the 1970s

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On Thursday, August 30, from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Grand Gallery, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art presents a free concert by pianist Mary Slaton. Though specializing in over six decades of popular music, for this concert Ms. Slaton will spotlight the 1970s. Her program, “It’s All Coming Back to Me,” will feature music made famous by artists such as Neil Diamond, Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, The Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, Lionel Ritchie, Elton John, Billy Joel, Chicago, The Beatles, Jimmy Buffett, and more. The performance is made possible in part by a gift from Stanley Sistrunk and a gift from Friends of the Series.” The café menu is available online.

Over the years, MARY SLATON has entertained thousands with her distinctive piano arrangements, and is known throughout the southeast as one of the region’s premier soloists. She knows popular music from the 1930s to present day, and specializes in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s including songs from classic movies, radio, and the canon of great American standards. While earning her Master’s degree at Memphis State University, Mary was a regular soloist at the Hilton and the Hyatt Regency. After Memphis, she lived in the Atlanta area where she played the Omni Hotel, the Hilton, the Atlanta Country Club, the Marietta Country Club, the Atlanta Athletic Club, and the 1848 Restaurant. Through her solo piano career, she boasts to have met many famous and colorful characters.

Mary grew up with her six brothers and one sister in Lee County, Alabama, in the Beauregard community on the Lazenby family farm. Her brother remembered her playing by ear at six years old. After earning her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Montevallo, Mary taught choir and piano at Beauregard School, and started bands at Beauregard and at Macon Academy in Tuskegee.

Having returned to Lee County, now in the Auburn-Opelika area, she has been featured at venues such as the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, the Terra Cotta, the Saugahatchee Country Club, and the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National. She enjoys entering her private students in district and state competitions, and has taught at Southern Union Community College. She leads the Mary Slaton Trio, and founded the East Alabama Community Band in which she serves as coordinator and French horn player.

Mary has one son, an architect in Birmingham. She loves spending time with her two grandchildren and growing flowers in her yard whenever possible.

Chris Krupinski (Hurricane, WV) Pears and Plums

Awards judge names winners in juried watercolor competition

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The “Watercolor Society of Alabama 77th Annual National Exhibition” features more than seventy pieces from artists all over the country. The exhibition is on view through Sunday, July 29.

Awards judge, Barbara Nechis, an artist and resident of Napa, California, is the former director of the Watercolor Society. “When making my selections first I look at the work and pay attention to which pieces I respond to without analyzing why. I look for work that appears to be particular to each artist and try to choose what I believe could be recognized as such even without a signature,” said Nechis.

“Emotional content is important to me but drawing and compositional skills, control of paint, shape and edge, an understanding of the proportions of figure or landscape, considered rather than random color, brush strokes that are purposeful, not arbitrary and works that demonstrate intent rather than accidental results are among my other considerations.”

Congratulations to the winners.

Chris Krupinski (Hurricane, WV) Pears and Plums

Award of Excellence

Chris Krupinski
(Hurricane, WV)
“Pears and Plums”

Joanna Ellington (Miramar Beach, FL) Storm on the Way

Board of Directors’ Award

Joanna Ellington
(Miramar Beach, FL)
“Storm on the Way”

Debra Scoggin/Myers (Ewing, MO) Father Is Always Working

Patron Fine Art Award

Debra Scoggin/Myers
(Ewing, MO)
“Father Is Always Working”

Iain Stewart (Opelika, AL) Two Boys and a Bike—Gothenburg, Sweden

Patron Fine Art Award

Iain Stewart
(Opelika, AL)
“Two Boys and a Bike—Gothenburg, Sweden”

Charles Rouse (Vista, CA) Hanging Out at Half King

Patron Fine Art Award

Charles Rouse
(Vista, CA)
“Hanging Out at Half King”

Z. L. Feng (Radford, VA) Roots

Patron Fine Art Award

Z. L. Feng
(Radford, VA)

Bruce Little (Savannah, GA) Ferry at Night

Patron Fine Art Award

Bruce Little
(Savannah, GA)
“Ferry at Night”

Tuva Stephens (McKenzie, TN) Norm’s World II

Patron Fine Art Award

Tuva Stephens
(McKenzie, TN)
“Norm’s World II”

Merit Award: James Brantley, (Opelika, AL), “Survivor”
Merit Award: Matthew Bird, (Sykesville, MD), “For You”
Southern Watercolor Society Award: William H. Mckeown, Quincy, FL, “The Old Salt”
Georgia Watercolor Society Award: Sophie Repolt Rogers, Tuscumbia, AL, “My Kinda Red Flags”
Louisiana Watercolor Society Award: Heike Covell, Huntsville, AL, “Proud”
Tallahassee Watercolor Society Award: Suzanna Spann, Cortez, FL, “Friday on Frenchman Street”
Texas Watercolor Society Award: Anne Hightower-Patterson, Leesville, SD, “Waiting In the Light of the Sun”
Signature Members Award: Keiko Yasoka, Houston, TX, “Happy Anniversary”
Signature Members Award: Barbara O’Neal Davis, York, SC “Proud”
Signature Members Award: Corky Goldman, Mobile, AL, “Generations”
Signature Members Award: Chuck Jones, McCalla, AL, “Cold Water School”
Signature Members Award: Florene S. Galese, Vestavia, AL, “Lazy Croc”

A Little Lunch Music, 5/17/2018: UA Violin and Piano Faculty Performing Stravinsky, Grieg

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On Thursday, May 17, from noon to 1:00 p.m., the series will present a free concert by violinist Jenny Grégoire with pianist Edisher Savitsky. The duo will perform “Suite Italienne” by Igor Stravinsky and “Sonata no. 3” by Edvard Grieg. A gift from Friends of the Series has helped to make this performance possible. The café menu is available online.

Musicians Gregoire-Savitsky by Demondrae Thurman

Born in Québec, Canada, Grégoire is assistant professor of violin at the University of Alabama. She has served as concertmaster for the Mobile Symphony Orchestra since 2001. She also performs with the Tuscaloosa Symphony, the Meridian Symphony, and the North Mississippi Symphony, and played one season with the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

On Thursday, the duo will perform “Suite Italienne” by Igor Stravinsky and “Sonata no. 3” by Edvard Grieg.

Stravinsky, who died in 1971, was at the forefront of changes in concert music during his time. He was known for pieces that still challenge the way listeners perceive harmony and rhythm, such as his ballet “The Rite of Spring” and his chamber music work, “The Soldier’s Tale,” both written in the 1910s.

In contrast, Stravinsky’s ballet “Pulcinella,” written in 1920, helped mark the beginning of his neoclassical period. “Suite Italienne” is a set of dances from the ballet arranged for violin and piano. “I really like his music, Grégoire said. “He really explored colors.”

During this time, Stravinsky borrowed conventions from works written 150 years prior. The music may remind listeners of works composed by Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. “But he added his twist to it,” Grégoire said of Stravinsky.

Grégoire says in parts of “Suite Italienne,” Stravinsky used dense harmonies that stray far from suggesting the familiar sounds of Classical Period composers like Mozart and Haydn. “The finale gets really thick,” she said. But she says clear rhythmic ideas from the older style contrast with the newer harmonic experiments.

There are other similar contrasts. “In the Minuet, it’s very melodic,” Grégoire said. “But the chord progressions in the piano make it so interesting because it’s not what you expect.” She says the combination of singable melodies and simple rhythms with newer, complex ideas make the music compelling. “I really like his music.”

Grieg wrote music mostly in the late 1800s during Western music’s Romantic Period. His third violin sonata was written for Adolph Brodsky, a Russian violinist. “It’s very dramatic,” Grégoire said, also calling it tempestuous. “It starts very strong and passionate so you know the character right away.”

Grégoire says the pieces she likes to play showcase the pianist’s abilities equally to those of the violinist. She says Grieg’s second movement demonstrates this by starting with 44 measures of melodic and beautiful solo piano.

A critically acclaimed pianist, Savitski is a winner of the International Piano-e-Competition, the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and the William S. Byrd International Piano Competition. He has appeared at music festivals and venues in Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Israel, Morocco, Japan, New Zealand, and the U.S. He is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama.

guiest performer Dr. David Banks

A Little Lunch Music, 5/10/2018: David Banks Returning with Gospel-Jazz Group

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On Thursday, May 10, from noon to 1:00 p.m., the series will present a free concert by the David Banks Gospel Jazz Experience. The group performs Banks’ arrangements of traditional Gospel songs as well as contemporary Gospel-jazz compositions. A gift from Friends of the Series has helped to make this performance possible.

Click here for more about the performers and a full schedule for spring 2018.

Banks is a classically trained musician with over 45 years of experience in musical styles including jazz, Gospel, R&B, country, and top-40. Inspired by a lifetime of faith and the expressive freedom of jazz, he now brings musicians together for his Gospel jazz projects.

The group performs arrangements, mostly by Banks, of traditional hymns and spirituals. A performer, composer, and promoter, he considers music to be one of the most important things in his life. But he says recent hip problems prevented him from being able to sit at the piano long enough to play even one song. Now, after successful hip surgery, he’s chosen music to fit a theme of “Walk with Me.”

Thursday’s program will include songs such as the traditional “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” and C. Austin Miles’ 1912 hymn “In the Garden” whose lyrics include the line, “And He walks with me / And he talks with me.” Along with a theme, he usually has a musical focus as well. “I’m going to concentrate on vocal improv this time.”

Vocalist Florence Miller will perform Thursday. Banks says at a young age, Miller moved from Tuskegee to New York with her family. She eventually became a professional musician, singing R&B, jazz, top-40, and dance music in New York. “She knows how to communicate with an audience,” Banks said.

Returning with the band to the series will be singers Louville Holstick and David Banks’ wife Barbara Banks along with Sam Williams on saxophone and flute. Columbus guitarist Elwood Madeo will join the band along with violinist Dan campbell and trombonist Martin Sager.

David Banks says singers from different regions have styles that distinguish them from each other. He says when she was growing up in Florida, Barbara Banks used to have a singing group with her sisters. “Her voice has a certain unique character to it,” David Banks said.

“Gospel music is a folk music,” he said. “Each area has its own flavor to it.” He says the music’s provincial nature comes from the way each region’s slaves used spirituals in 18th- and 19th-century America. During those times, not only styles were different, but also lyrics and music used to give specific instructions to escapees.

A Little Lunch Music, 5/3/2018: R2Duo Returning with Music for Flute and Guitar

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On Thursday, May 3, from noon to 1:00 p.m., the series will present a free concert in the Grand Gallery by R2Duo featuring flutist Rachel Nozny and guitarist Robert Gibson. The program will feature music by composers including Manuel de Falla, Mathias Duplessy, Robert Beaser, and Astor Piazzola. Gifts from Larry & Marnie Leonard and from Friends of the Series have helped to make this performance possible.

Click here to read more about the performers and to see the full schedule for spring 2018.

Nozny and Gibson formed R2Duo in the spring of 2014. Both performers are faculty members in the John M. Long School of Music at Troy University.

Much of Thursday’s program is music based on folk songs from Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and the U.S. Though not singing words, Nozny says she finds it helpful to know the lyrics if what she’s playing is based on a song.

“I do research to find the meaning behind the text,” Nozny said. For instance, “Nana” from de Falla’s “Suite Popular Espaῆola” is a lullaby. But studying the text, Nozny learned that it is sung to a child by a dying grandmother who knows she will not see the child grow up.

Another traditional folk song the duo will perform is “Barbara Allen,” included in Beaser’s work, “Mountain Songs.” In it, the words describe unrequited love, but the death of one of its characters makes the song much sadder.

Nozny says the tunes are easy enough to play sweetly, but knowing the lyrics changes her approach as she tries to express the feelings in the stories.

For his piece “Appalaches,” Duplessy used inspiration other than folk songs. Born in 1972, he is a French composer whose pieces are inspired by music from around the world. The title is a French word for the Appalachian mountain range. It uses some of the flute and guitar’s extended techniques, or unusual ways to make sounds. But Nozny says it is very tonal and has been recorded quite a bit. “It’s fun to play together because both parts are fast and high energy and virtuosic,” she said.

Nozny performs with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and others. She teaches Aural Skills at Troy University and flute at the Montgomery School of Music. She holds degrees from Mercer University and the University of Kentucky.

Gibson teaches guitar at Troy. He has been featured with the San Antonio Symphony, and has toured as performer in the United States, Mexico and Italy. He studied at the University of Texas at San Antonio, at the University of Texas at Austin, and for four years with guitarist and teacher Oscar Ghiglia at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy.

guest performer Jennifer Pifer

A Little Lunch Music, 4/26/2018: Oboe-Piano Duo Returning to Series

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On Thursday, April 19, from noon to 1:00 p.m., the series will present a free concert in the Grand Gallery by Duo Echo featuring oboist Jennifer Pifer and pianist Joshua Pifer. The program will feature music by Emile Paladihle, Francis Poulenc, William Grant Still, Otto Mortensen, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. A gift from Patricia Giordano and a gift from Bob Ekelund & Mark Thornton have helped to make this performance possible.

Click here for more about the performers and a full schedule for spring 2018.

After the couple’s first recital together about twenty years ago, they continued with Duo Echo by seeking out performance venues in rural areas. “We brought our music to communities that did not typically have access to live classical performance,” said Jennifer Pifer.

Not only did the strategy pay off for their audiences, Jennifer Pifer says it gave the Pifers the opportunity to hone their craft. Through the many performances they did, often with Joshua Pifer playing old, upright pianos in churches and community centers in very rural areas, they learned to interact with each other and their audiences in meaningful ways.

After years of family and employer priorities having taken precedence over Duo Echo, they are performing together again. “It has been a great joy to us in the past couple years to return to our group’s roots and to perform once again in intimate community settings such as the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art,” said Jennifer Pifer.

One of the pieces they have played and loved since the beginning of Duo Echo is Poulenc’s “Sonata for oboe and piano.” “The Poulenc sonata is one of the absolute saddest pieces in oboe repertoire,” Jennifer PIfer said. “It’s just heartrendingly sad.” She says people seem to love it because it draws forth such strong emotion.

In contrast to Poulenc’s piece, Jennifer Pifer uses words like “charming and delightful,” and “sweet and carefree,” to describe the Mortensen sonata. But playing the music is not a carefree process. She says the piece requires a lot of precision to get the composer’s ideas across to the audience.

Jennifer Pifer says Mortensen wrote using melodies that overlap, sometimes in complex ways. And though the melodies are related, it isn’t often in a way that is easy to hear. “It’s not really contrapuntal, but it works out,” she said, meaning that it doesn’t quite sound like a conventional melody-against-countermelody situation.

Paladilhe wrote “Solo pour Hautbois” as a graduation piece for the Paris Conservatory. If oboe students passed their performance of the piece, they could graduate, no matter how young they were.

“I love this piece because it is very clear that it was written to highlight the technical prowess but also the individuality of the musician,” Jennifer Pifer said. She explains by saying there are parts written to give the oboist a lot of freedom to shape the melody, letting her improvise with changes in tempo and volume to make it her own.

In contrast, she says Still’s piece, “Incantation and Dance,” was written to sound like it is improvised, but in fact has very specific instructions so it will sound exactly as the composer intended.

Jennifer Pifer is a freelance oboist living in Auburn who performs with area chamber and church orchestras. Past guest appearances have included the Oxford Chamber Orchestra, the New Century Players, the Bardsdale Vespers Orchestra, and the Temple City Guest Orchestra. She teaches oboe and reedmaking in her private studio.

A Senior Lecturer at Auburn University, Joshua Pifer teaches Piano Skills, Functional Piano, Music Skills, and Applied Piano. In summer, he teaches at Blue Lake Fine Arts Festival and previously taught at Florida State University and the Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy. His first solo CD, “Alexander Tcherepnin My Favorite Piano Works,” was released in 2015.

Joshua and Jennifer Pifer as Duo Echo
Auburn University Piano Studio, Spring 2018

A Little Lunch Music, 4/19/2018: Auburn Student Pianists Performing Debussy, Brahms, Haydn

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On Thursday, April 19, from noon to 1:00 in the Grand Gallery, the series will present a free concert by members of the Auburn University piano studio led by Dr. Jeremy Samolesky. Jordan Barnett, Jinjin Chen, Yongyu Chen, Emma Beth Fisher, Brittany Lee, Sarah Niedzwiecki, and Caroline Smith will perform music by Joseph Haydn, Claude Debussy, and Johannes Brahms.

Click here for more about the performers and the full schedule for spring 2018.

The performance is supported in part by a gift from Helga Geyling in memory of Tom and Ruth Wright and by an anonymous gift. In 2009, Tom and Ruth Wright donated to the museum the 1972 Steinway piano that is used for many of the series’ concerts.

Earlier this month, Samolesky’s students presented a concert at Goodwin Hall entirely of Debussy’s works from his first book of préludes. Thursday’s concert will include some of these préludes. This year is the 100th since the composer’s death.

Barnett will play the eighth prélude. He says it has a lot of four- and five-note chords which help him with voicing. Voicing means playing the melody lines so that they can be heard above notes and chords that serve other functions.

“I think of it almost like a jazz piece,” Barnett said, adding that jazz often presents its melodies in a similar way. “I’ve been playing mostly jazz and Gospel since I was little.” A freshman, he is also studying mechanical engineering.

Smith will play the first prélude. She says this piece also presents voicing challenges that include parts where the melody is in the middle of the chord, rather than at the top. “I think it’s pretty,” she said, adding that it is slower and has a calming feeling.

Smith, a sophomore, has been playing piano for nine years. She also plays tuba in the Marching Band, having won auditions on tuba for honor bands and All State Bands in high school.

Youngyu Chen will play Debussy’s eleventh prelude. “This prélude is a playful, elfin dance,” said Chen. A freshman from Changsha in the Hunan province of southern China, she considers music to be integral to her life, having played piano since age five.

Sophomore Jinjin Chen from China’s Fujian Province switched her major to music this year, having only been playing piano since she was a teenager. She will play the twelfth prélude. “It’s very cute and interesting and can make other people very happy,” she said.

Fisher will play Debussy’s fourth and fifth préludes. She says number four is challenging, because of the many character changes, and number five is very quick. Throughout middle and high school, Fisher won awards in state competitions. Now a junior at Auburn, she has taken part in a two-week music festival in Vipiteno, Italy, and will perform a full recital Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. at Goodwin Hall.

Niedzwiecki and Ye will also play Debussy préludes. Niedzwiecki is a singer and horn player studying to be a band director. Ye is a composer and an accomplished harpist. Both pianists are sophomores at Auburn.

Bookending the Debussy works will be a sonata by Haydn, played by Lee, and a rhapsody by Brahms, played by Fisher. Lee is a freshman from Anniston. In high school she was named Outstanding Accompanist of Alabama for three years in a row and was awarded the Glenda M. Potts Music Scholarship.

Lee says she likes the Haydn sonata because it’s clean and articulate. “It’s more of a playful sound,” Lee said. It is a one-movement piece composed in the three-section sonata-allegro form commonly used by composers of western music’s Classical Period, when Haydn lived.

Fisher says Brahms, a Romantic composer, used a modified version of sonata-allegro form when he wrote “Rhapsody in G Minor.” She says the first of its three parts is dramatic and passionate. Afterwards is a quiet, intimate chordal section marked “sotto voce.” “It’s almost like an under-your-breath type of sound,” she said. Gradually, it builds to the final section of song-like melody.

Auburn University Piano Studio, Spring 2018
DETAIL: Ira Hill (Alabama, b. 1974) American Expressions, ongoing, originated in 2011 Fabricated steel and paint

Calling Art Enthusiasts: Meet and Greet with Ira Hill

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On April 26 at 5:30 p.m., Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art invites Ira Hill to the museum for an hour long Meet and Greet with Art Enthusiasts, the museum’s newest membership level.

Enthusiastic individuals with a shared interest in being part of the art community will enjoy beverages and one-on-one time with the artist and other guests. Hill will be giving a brief talk on the grounds surrounding his sculpture and members will be the first to sign Hill’s sculpture, “American Expressions.”

As a museum member, there are hundreds of resources at your disposal to bring you closer to art. It’s access and engagement that excites the newest museum membership level, the art enthusiasts.

Become an Art Enthusiast
Alabama artist Ira Hill poses with his work, American Expressions

Hill’s sculpture, “American Expressions” is a social experiment, political awakening, and artistic representation of expression through an 8-foot by 16-foot steel sculpture of an American flag. The flag was placed on the museum grounds in the fall as part of “Out of the Box”, the biennial outdoor sculpture exhibition and has since been the canvas for museum visitors to sign, sketch, and express themselves. Hill will be repainting the flag before Thursday’s event leaving a fresh canvas until the exhibition closes in mid-October.

The “American Expressions” flag was toured throughout the United States in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. By allowing people to write directly on the flag, it became a document of their encounters and a place of expression for the people of our nation. Upon traveling to the next destination, the flag was repainted, absorbing the expressions of the previous community, weaving thousands of voices together.

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Upcoming Events

Sun 23

Which Way Home: Community Films and Conversations

September 23 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Thu 27

Museum Shop Sale

September 27 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Thu 27

Pianist David Bottoms: A Little Lunch Music

September 27 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm