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Visiting Soprano Will Bring Cabaret Music to Museum Series

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Loralee Songer and Perry Mears from Iowa Will Perform

On Thursday, April 6 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the Auditorium featuring soprano Loralee Songer with pianist Perry Mears. The duo will present a program of cabaret songs by Benjamin Britten, Arnold Schoenberg, and still-living composers William Bolcom and Dominick Argento.
A gift from an anonymous friends of the series has helped to make this concert possible.
Cabaret, from a French word for nightclub, is a form of musical entertainment that gained popularity throughout the 19th century in Europe and into the beginning of the 20th century in the United States. “We could think French, we could think New York,” said Songer, who is developing a repertoire of cabaret songs.
Though Songer said she is often called on to sing operatic roles, she loves the intimacy of performing art-song recitals. “I like to be able to see people and communicate that way,” she said, pointing out that cabaret is similar. She said it was meant to be sung in small rooms to an up-close audience. But unlike at most art-song concerts, cabaret’s listeners are usually dining or drinking.
Songer doesn’t consider herself a lifelong cabaret specialist, but rather came upon the genre organically. “I started collecting music and sort of stumbled on a theme,” she said. “It’s a really fun program.”
Composer William Bolcom won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988 and is famous for writing new cabaret songs. She said she met him at a training festival, and was able to work and even perform with him on his music.
Thursday, Songer and Mears will perform Bolcom’s “Over the Piano” and a set of songs called “Minicabs”. “Minicabs” lasts about five minutes and contains eleven very short songs. “They’re very humorous and clever,” said Songer. A big part of cabaret’s entertainment value is in the humor.
Though Songer said there are a lot of different kinds of humor in Bolcom’s music, the short format of the songs in “Minicabs” lends itself to a simple type. “It’s not hard to get the joke,” she said. “Over the Piano” leans perhaps more toward burlesque, she said, adding “It’s nightclub-appropriate.”
Arnold Schoenberg, who lived during cabaret’s turn-of-the-century golden age, was known for being a pioneer in serial music. Serial music is composed based on strict mathematical patterns and rules that were very different from what came before.
Songer said those who know Schoenberg’s serial works may get a little bit of a surprise when they hear his cabaret songs. She and Mears will perform three from his song cycle, “Brettl-Lieder”. Songer said she finds these enjoyable, melodic, and very much tonal. “I think you expect something different,” she said.
The duo will close the program with three songs from still-living composer Dominick Argento’s “Cabaret Songs”. Argento was also a Pulitzer prizewinner.
In 2014, Songer was a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and was a 2013 Stern Fellow at SongFest. Roman & Littlefield recently published her book, “Songs of the Second Viennese School: A Performer’s Guide to Selected Vocal Works.” She is on the music faculty at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and can be found online at www.loraleesonger.com
Mears’ recent performances include recitals at the University of Alabama with Songer, at Sneed State College with the Poplar Wind Trio, and in Memphis with the Luna Nova ensemble. Previously on the faculty at Lee University, he has also been on the musical staff of the Schumann Liederfest in Zwickau, Germany, and Ash Lawn Festival Opera. He currently resides in Davenport, Iowa and serves as the music director for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Bettendorf.

Pianist Perry Mears

Soprano Loralee Songer

Solo Cellist Will Feature Works Created to Pair with Bach Suite

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Former MSO Fellow Laura Usiskin Will Perform for Museum Series

On March 2 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the Grand Gallery by cellist Laura Usiskin. The concert will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s third cello suite and two pieces commissioned by the performer to complement it.
A gift from Bill and Josie Walsh has helped to make this concert possible.
Composer Peter Susser is on faculty at Columbia University, and was there when Usiskin was earning her undergraduate degree. Composer Patrick Greene wrote “abstractEXTRACTION” a chamber piece Usiskin once played and really liked. Johann Sebastian Bach is arguably the most famous composer in all of western music. Now, the three composers have Usiskin in common.
Motivated by the desire to bring about more music for solo cello, Usiskin contacted Susser and Greene to commission a new piece from each of them. She asked them to use Bach’s third cello suite as inspiration, with the intent to use the new works as companion pieces to the suite. “I wanted to make a cohesive program,” said Usiskin.
Usiskin said it was really interesting how the two new composers were inspired by Bach’s music in similar ways. She said they both used ostinato, which is a note or short sequence of notes that is repeated while harmonic and melodic material change around it.
Also like Bach, Usiskin said the new composers used repeated rhythmic ideas and changed their rhythms, often suggesting a different basic pulse, or meter, from what came before. She said since the new pieces are modern concert pieces, the composers took more liberties with rhythm than Bach did. Bach’s suites were Baroque dance pieces, and so required a more consistent meter for people to dance to.
Usiskin said Susser somewhat paired his six short movements with the six dances in Bach’s third suite. The new composer pays homage in his own Prelude to the famous Prelude from Bach’s first cello suite. Greene’s four movements were less connected to the original structure of Bach’s suites.
Usiskin said she has recently recorded Bach’s third suite and will do the same with Susser and Greene’s pieces as part of a new CD to be released by the end of summer.
A regular performer for A Little Lunch Music since 2010, Usiskin has performed throughout North America and Europe in such venues as Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall, Palazzo Chigi Saracini, Barge Music, and many others. Recent performances include concertos with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and performances of the complete Bach Suites in Los Angeles and Connecticut. She has held orchestral positions with the New Haven Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, and is currently Principal Cello of the Orchestra Iowa.
From 2011-2013, Usiskin served as Founder and Executive Director of the Montgomery Music Project, a program that provides intensive string-music instruction to underserved children in Montgomery. Based in Birmingham, She is on faculty at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Birmingham Southern College, and STEP Birmingham. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University, Master of Music from The Juilliard School, and Doctor of Musical Arts from the Yale School of Music.

Pianist Brings Beethoven’s “New” Music to Museum Series

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Lawrence Quinnett Returns to A Little Lunch Music

On February 23 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the Grand Gallery by pianist Lawrence Quinnett. The concert will feature Ludwig van Beethoven’s first three piano sonatas. Thanks to Bob Ekelund & Mark Thornton for helping to make this concert possible.

Gifts from Bob Ekelund & Mark Thornton have helped to make this concert possible.

When Beethoven wrote his first sonatas, committing full piano concerts to memory was well on its way to becoming standard practice for pianists. But the music Beethoven wrote was so new and different that many performers refused to do it, said Quinnett. The idea was that no wrong note would be played, honoring the genius of the composer.

Quinnett said even the renowned composer Clara Schumann, who championed Beethoven’s works in her late career, was disparaged by critics for playing his music from memory.

Musicians had good reason to put Beethoven on a pedestal, said Quinnett. Many things about these pieces were markedly different from what came before, challenging music conventions of the time.

And Quinnett said he enjoys challenging himself with the pieces. “All these sonatas are new to me,” he said.

Quinnett said Beethoven had a brilliant mind, and was known for his ability to play difficult music at high tempos. He said Beethoven’s compositions showcased these abilities and that the sonatas display this technique clearly. “They tend to land better at slightly quicker tempos,” said Quinnett.

Beethoven also used a new approach to tempo, said Quinnett. He said though the composer included conventional tempo markings in his music, he didn’t use them in the same way. Not only did Beethoven usually intend the music to be played a bit faster than the tempo markings instructed, he also took liberties with the tempo. When he performed, he made tempo adjustments even during the course of a short musical phrase.

“Contemporaries of Beethoven would say than he rarely played a couple bars the same tempo,” said Quinnett. “He had a sense of freedom with his performances.”

Beethoven’s music is complex, said Quinnett. It makes use of harmonic shifts that hadn’t been heard before and cadenzas, or extended virtuosic passages. Quinnett said Beethoven had a penchant for playing impressive improvised solos, and that the cadenzas he wrote sounded like the music he improvised. Though cadenzas are mostly found in his concertos, Beethoven included one in his third sonata.

Quinnett said in Beethoven’s time, it was commonplace for classical performers to improvise. “There was a culture of improvisation,” he said, adding that it was found not only with Beethoven, but in earlier music as well.

Born in Montserrat, Quinnett has played solo and chamber music in the Caribbean, United Kingdom, and United States. He has judged competitions, given masterclasses, and been featured as performer and pedagogue in festivals including the 2015 Montserrat Music Festival, the Colour of Music Festival, the 2013 Ligeti Symposium, and the Fayetteville Piano Festival. He holds a doctorate from Florida State University and teaches as professor at Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC.

AU Faculty Will Perform for A Little Lunch Music

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Museum Series Will Feature Brahms Chamber Music

On January 19, from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the auditorium featuring pianist Jeremy Samolesky, baritone Matthew Hoch, soprano Anne Duraski, violinist Guy Harrison, and clarinetist David Odom. The program will feature chamber music by Johannes Brahms. Thanks to anonymous friends of the series for helping to make this performance possible.
Thursday’s program will include three pieces by Johannes Brahms, one of the defining composers of western music’s Romantic Period. Brahms lived from 1833 to 1897. Samolesky said he began playing Brahms’ music in undergraduate school. He said he was struck by the melodies, how expressive and singable they are.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to play, physically as well as emotionally,” said Samolesky. He said he has experienced everything from extreme fragile intimacy to full-blown passionate drama in Brahms’ music.
Samolesky has played all of Brahms’ solo piano music and much of his chamber music. Thursday’s program will highlight the composer’s chamber music. Featured will be a set of vocal duets, a violin sonata and a clarinet sonata.
“All of these pieces are extremely difficult,” said Samolesky, adding that everyone’s part is equally hard to perform. He said this is true not only in a technical sense, but also in communicating the musical essence. But he said with Brahms, the virtuosity always serves a musical purpose, and doesn’t exist only to show off a performer’s talent.

Pictured: Jeremy Samolesky

“All of his chamber music is musical conversations between all the instruments,” said Samolesky. He contrasted this with earlier works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose trios are melodically dominated by the piano and whose string quartets showcase the first violin. In Brahms’ music, Samolesky said each voice carries the same importance.
The conversational aspect of the music is most evident in Brahms’ “Vier Duette (Four Duets), Op. 28,” for soprano, baritone and piano. In this set of four pieces, each scene is a conversation between two characters. And Samolesky said even in this relatively short piece, the emotions range from bright and joyful to tragic despair.
Samolesky said Brahms wrote three very different violin sonatas and two very different clarinet sonatas. But he said the violin and clarinet sonatas they will perform Thursday happen to be very similar. He said that in a way, they represent Brahms’ later style of writing, which was more subdued and reflective. He said they are not without passion, however, including long, rich melodies that are singing and beautiful.
Samolesky said Brahms’ chamber music has left an indelible impression on him, and colleagues have expressed the same. “I do remember every single time I played Brahms chamber music,” he said. “I remember where I was and who I played it with.”

Museum to Host Violin and Piano Music for Final 2016 Noon Concert

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Museum to Host Violin and Piano Music for Final 2016 Noon Concert

On December 15, from noon to 1:00 pm, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert in the auditorium featuring violinist Elzbieta Tokarska with pianist Ksenia Kurenysheva. The duo will present music by Francis Poulenc, César Franck, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

A gift from Jim & Sue Haygood is helping to make the concert possible.

Thursday’s concert will mark Kurenysheva’s fifth performance at the museum. Her first was in 2012, her first year in the United States. Appearing in the series, She has performed as a soloist and with Auburn violinist Lorna Wood.

The Russian Kurenysheva and the Polish Tokarska are both winners of top prizes in international festivals. They met at Columbus State University’s Schwob school of music. They started out with a lot of classes together and soon began working on chamber music. Now, Kurenysheva is working on a doctorate at the University of Georgia in Athens, and Tokarska is doing graduate work at CSU. Making music together is still very important to them.

The duo will perform a violin sonata by Poulenc, a French composer. Kurenysheva compares his music to that of the Russian Sergei Prokofiev. She said as 20th-century music, it is adventurous in its harmonic structure, but never moves into serial music, using certain patterns and techniques that ignore traditional harmony and melody.

As an example of French music, she said Poulenc’s music is not as romantic or melodic as Claude Debussy’s or Maurice Ravel’s, but it is still entertaining. As an example of neoclassical music, it is well-organized, like Prokofiev. “You will understand themes and how they develop throughout the piece,” she added.

Though Kurenysheva said the Belgian composer Franck would perhaps not have appreciated the complement, she believes that his Sonata for Violin and Piano is a great example of typical French music. “Franck is very open and expressive,” she said.

Like many pieces, the violin part of the Franck sonata has been transcribed for other instruments. As a collaborative pianist, Kurenysheva has played it many times. “Everybody wants to play this piece,” she said, adding that no matter what the arrangement, the piece never suffers. She said this is not true of all music.

“The thematic material is interesting, it’s so sincere,” said Kurenysheva. “Everything is absolutely perfect.”

About Tokarska’s playing, Kurenysheva said she is a leader whose strength is in the music’s drive. “Her sound is very expressive,” she said, adding, “Her lower range is really dense and singing like a human voice. I love to play with her.”

The program will close with Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flower” from his “The Nutcracker Suite.”

JCSM After Hours

On Thursday night from 5-8 p.m., the museum will be open for its weekly JCSM After Hours. The exhibitions are free to the public and the cafe and gift shop are open. This week will be Holiday Family Night with pianist Mary Slaton performing Christmas music. There will be an art activity for kids, snacks, and discounts in the shop.

A Little Lunch Music Welcomes Andrew Wilder; AU Cultural Music Society Performs in Evening

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On December 1, from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert featuring classical guitarist Andrew Wilder. Andrew will present music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Juan Antonio Sanchez.

The concert will be in the Auditorium. Thanks to anonymous friends of the series for helping to make this performance possible.

Much of classical guitar’s repertoire is transcriptions. One of the two Mozart pieces Wilder will play was originally written for clavichord, a stringed keyboard instrument. Another was written for the glass harmonium which uses a series of spinning bowls and finger friction to make pitches.

Bach transcribed some of his own cello suites for a guitar-like instrument, but not Suite No. 3 which is on Thursday’s program. Even without an original version for guitar, Wilder said it works very well on the instrument.

Wilder said he is inspired by Bach’s devotion, not only to his faith, but also to  his attention to detail and his groundbreaking counterpoint style. Counterpoint is basically multiple independent melodies happening at the same time. “It’s amazing writing,” said Wilder, “I listen to Bach almost every day.” Wilder said Bach had a great ability to see his strength in writing this style, and didn’t stop writing it even after other Baroque composers had moved away from it.

A senior now at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music, Wilder said that as a freshman he met Chilean guitarist Jose Antonio Escobar when Escobar visited the school as a clinician. Through that contact, he became aware of the music of still-living Chilean composer Juan Antonio Sanchez. Sanchez wrote “Sonata Para Guitar” for Escobar.

Escobar is a virtuoso, and Wilder said Sanchez’s “Sonata” is extremely difficult. Wilder has wanted to perform it since he heard the piece. “I was obsessed with it,” he said. He would listen to it over and over again. Three years later, he has taken it on for himself, and has received good feedback from the composer who heard a recording online.

Wilder said “Sonata para Guitarra” is new, difficult, and obscure. Besides Escobar, Wilder said he is the only person playing it right now. But he hopes listeners won’t hear the difficulty. He said it is full of singable melodies, percussive Chilean rhythms and jazz influences.

Wilder was born into a musical family with 10 brothers and sisters who have all studied classical music extensively, and with parents who are both professional classical musicians. He has performed and studied throughout Europe, the United States, and South America.

As a soloist, Wilder has been the recipient of awards including first prizes in the Senior Guitar competition of the Society of American Musicians, the International Tennessee Guitar Competition, and the Art of Strings international competition.

He was a prizewinner in the East Carolina University Guitar competition and the Troy University Guitar competition and was a recipient of the Koch Cultural Trust grant.

JCSM After Hours

Separate from the noon series is another music offering at the museum. Each  Thursday night, the museum’s cafe, exhibitions, and gift shop are open from 5-8 pm for JCSM After Hours. Live music is featured each week, often with the house band being the jazz trio, Cullars improvisational Rotation.

This week instead of jazz, the Auburn University Cultural Music Society will perform a mix of music. In addition to traditional Indian music and Indian-Western fusion, the group will bring in American gospel, blues, and old-time folk. Its members will present some original songs and spoken word pieces.

The Society is an Auburn University student organization that was founded in spring 2014 with the mission of bringing awareness to the Auburn community about the importance of cultural diversity through music. It was formed with the understanding that each culture has a different perspective on the uses of music and the sounds produced by its instruments. Members are guided by the idea that music has a way of unifying people with different nationalities and ideologies.

Museum Series Will Feature Flutist Alina Windell

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On October 27 from noon to 1:00 pm, “A Little Lunch Music Series” will present a free concert by flutist Alina Windell with oboist Sue Tomkiewicz and pianist Jeremy Samolesky. The program will feature music by Sergei Prokofieff, and still-living composers Martin Kennedy, and Dana Wilson. Anonymous friends of the series have helped make this possible.

Anonymous friends of the series are helping to support the concert.

Composer Martin Kennedy is now Director of Theory and Composition at Central Washington University. He was a grad student at Indiana University when Windell was there earning her Bachelors Degree. At that time, she heard his piece, “Four Songs,” and said since then she’s been waiting for a chance to play it.

Now, two degrees later and teaching at Auburn and Southern Union, Windell has been able to program the piece for A Little Lunch Music.

A piece of music often ebbs and flows, offering its climax at or near its end. Windell said the four-movement Kennedy piece is different. “Everything just really calms down as the piece goes on,” she said.

Windell said the first movement, “Ferocious,” is the most intense. It is the most dissonant, is louder, and has really complex textures, she said. “The last piece is the most relaxed, kind of like a loose, free feeling,” she added.

In between, Windell said Kennedy’s second movement is fun and playful and reminds her of Aaron Copland’s music at times. She said the third is a sweet love song with hints of Disney music. She said the composer is a pianist, and the piano part to “Four Songs” is really virtuosic.

They will perform “Sonata” by the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). Though Windell said it is a staple of the flute’s repertoire, this will be the first time she’s had the chance to play all of its four movements together. Windell said that though Prokofieff’s music can be fairly adventurous, this is one of his more consonant sounding pieces.

“I just like it,” said Windell.

Thursday’s program will also feature a trio by still-living composer Dana Wilson, “Gold Mosaic.” Oboist Tomkiewicz was involved in its commission, and frequently plays with Windell for the Springer Theatre orchestra in Columbus.

Windell said they will repeat the program at Columbus State University on Nov. 10.

Windell has performed throughout the USA and abroad and is a member of the LaGrange Symphony. In the summer of 2016, she performed at the National Flute Association Convention in San Diego, CA; at the Orfeo Music Festival, in Vipiteno, Italy; and at the International Double Reed Society conference at Columbus State University. In 2015, she was a soloist in a concert tour of Malaysia.

Tomkiewicz is the Associate Professor of Oboe at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music and the Director of Honors on the school’s RiverPark campus. She has commissioned, premiered and recorded new works for oboe and English horn by such composers as Brian Cherney, Brooke Joyce, Bruce Pennycook and Nancy Galbraith. She is currently the English hornist with the Columbus Symphony.

Samolesky serves as Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Area Coordinator at Auburn University. Recent concert tours and performances include China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia, and Ecuador, with regular appearances as performer and teacher throughout the US. His Kennedy Center recital was broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.” Praised by critics as “brilliant,” “distinguished,” and “full of intensity and drama,” Samolesky’s debut solo CD was released by Centaur Records in 2015.

Columbus Jazz Pianist Brings Music Inspired by Baroque, Mussorgsky

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On October 20 from noon to 1:00 pm in the auditorium, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert by a group led by composer and pianist Donald Tipton from Columbus, Georgia.
“Musa” is a recent composition by Tipton that he premiered with a sextet earlier this year at the Columbus Museum. Thursday’s concert will feature the piece re-tooled as a quartet. Personnel will be Tipton on piano, Jeanne Martz on flute, Yair Ophir on bass, and Steve Thompson on drums.
“One of the things I’m really interested in is kind of a blending of jazz and Baroque,” said  Tipton, adding, “The two are surprisingly compatible.” He said the original reason for writing “Musa” was to explore that relationship.
“It’s chamber jazz,” said Tipton of “Musa.” He said it has elements of chamber music in the way he layered the melodic material. At the same time, there are parts where the music is improvised, and it is presented in a conventional jazz-quartet format.
Improvisation was was a big part of Baroque music, said Tipton. As in jazz, he said musicians would often freely embellish written melodies or ignore them completely and come up with their own.
In 1874, decades after the Baroque Period ended, the art of Viktor Hartmann inspired Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky to write his famous piece, “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Tipton said some of the inspiration for “Musa” came from six paintings in the permanent collection at The Columbus Museum in Columbus, GA.
Tipton’s “Musa” parallels the structure of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures.” It features a musical impression of each of these six paintings and includes a recurring “Promenade” movement placed in between each impression.
Artist Bo Bartlett was born in Columbus. His painting, “Homecoming,” is one of Tipton’s subjects. It is a high-school scene with images of football and a huge bonfire. Tipton described Bartlett as a very narrative painter with interesting, complex stories.
But Tipton didn’t write his music with one-to-one connections between musical ideas and visual elements. He said it was more free, and he wasn’t so much concerned with the artists’ intentions. “I let the idea of the painting wash over me and then wrote what I felt,” he said.
Another of the paintings is Andrée Ruellan’s “Children’s Mardi Gras.” Tipton described it as very poignant with costumed children playing music and dancing in the street. Other children watch forlornly from behind a fence. He said he used energetic Black Gospel music paired with sounds he described as “sanguine melancholy.”
Tipton is currently working on a Maters Degree in music from Columbus State University. He received his Bachelor of Music from the same school in 1980 when it was Columbus College. Since then, he has worked as a video producer and commercial photographer with special expertise in underwater image making.
In addition to “Musa,” Tipton and his group will perform some of his original jazz pieces. Two will be from his first foray into composition, when he wrote the film score to his own 2009 photographic documentary, “Dreaming into Blue.”
Donald is a founding member of the Amadeus Jazz Quintet and a board member of the Columbus Jazz Society. He can be heard performing jazz at The Loft in Columbus and at other venues throughout the region.

Auburn Faculty Violinist Presents Sonatas by Franck and Beethoven

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On October 13 from noon to 1:00 pm in the auditorium, the series will present a free concert by violinist Guy Harrison with pianist Jeremy Samolesky. The duo will preform the Sonata for Violin & Piano in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven and the Sonata in A Major for Violin & Piano by Cesar Franck.

French composer César Franck composed his violin sonata in 1886 for Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe to play at his own wedding, said Harrison. The story is, they rehearsed it together once on the morning of the wedding, said Harrison.

“We hear so much about French music being its own sort of ball game,” said Harrison. He said its reputation in opera and everything else carries over to the violin. He added that there is a subtlety to French music that’s not in some of the other repertoire.

Harrison said the first movement of the Franck is a gentle and sweet intro to the piece, contrasting with the second. “This is the big one,” he said of the second, describing it as turbulent, loud, and passionate. But with French music, he said its loudness is not an angry type. He said it has a soaring, romantic strength that conveys an underlying passion, a trait of French music.

Harrison said Franck’s third movement is a fantasia-recitative. It allows the performer a great deal of freedom. “It leaves you to interpret it as you see fit,” he added. He said the fourth is a simple melody in canon with the piano, meaning the two instruments overlap the same melodies, starting and ending at different times. “It is a simple, elegant closing,” he said.

The second sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven was written quite early in the composer’s life, being Op. 12, said Harrison. Though he was one of the major forces to bring about changes in Western music that defined the Romantic Period, at this point in his life, Beethoven was still firmly connected with the Classical Period, said Harrison.

“Beethoven is one of those things where you’re always striving to have a better interpretation every time you play it,” said Harrison. He said early Beethoven is similar to late works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whom to many defines the Classical Period. He said they both have a simplicity that is challenging to get across to an audience. “You can’t just rely on outgoing passionate playing to get you through,” he added.

Harrison, on faculty with Auburn University, said he was pretty sure he is the only employee to work for two different colleges. Under the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, he is involved with education courses, the Tiger Strings Youth Orchestra, and supervising music teaching interns.

For the Department of Music, Harrison teaches chamber music and applied study.

It’s a challenge to recruit string majors, said Harrison. In Alabama’s grade schools, children’s orchestras are scarce. Most of the ones that exist have strong connections with other colleges’ string programs. In the Auburn/Opelika area, he said there are no in-school string programs.

In response, Harrison started the Auburn University Music Project, which teaches young children string music from the very beginning. He said it gives great teaching opportunities for his college students. The young children’s parents pay tuition, which goes to build a financial base for scholarships and awards. These help recruit new string students to Auburn.

Originally from Australia, Harrison completed his Doctoral degree in Violin Performance at Michigan State University in 2012 under the direction of Dr. Walter Verdehr. He also holds degrees from the University of Adelaide (B.M. – Honors), and Michigan State University (M.M.). Dr. Harrison performs on a J.B. Vuillaume violin, circa 1858.

Samolesky serves as Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Area Coordinator at Auburn. He has performed throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Recent concert tours and performances include China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia, and Ecuador. His Kennedy Center recital was broadcast on NPR’s “Performance Today” and elsewhere, and he was recently a featured lecturer and performer at the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. Samolesky’s debut solo CD was released by Centaur Records in 2015.

Trombonist and Pianist Present Songs and Lyrical Pieces

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Trombonist Matthew Wood and Pianist Joshua Pifer Hold Free Concert

On Thursday, October 6, from noon to 1:00 pm in the Grand Gallery, A Little Lunch Music will present a free concert by trombonist Matthew Wood and pianist Joshua Pifer. Composers featured will be Michael Davis, Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Joseph Canteloube, Alexander Tcherepnin, Astor Piazzolla, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, Edward Elgar, Robert Schuman, and Richard Strauss.

The program will feature lyrical music either inspired by songs or arranged from vocal works. Though Wood has performed music like this before, he said until now he had never put together a whole program with this theme.

“That’s really the way brass instruments are taught,” said Wood, adding, “Everything is lyrically based, even the weirdest bleep-blop [music].” He said whether it’s brass, percussion, or electric guitar, everything starts with tone or sound quality. “Even the most technical thing is not just a series of notes,” he added.
Wood said though songs are generally easier to play, their simplicity reveals every imperfection in a performance. “It’s kind of like missing a six-inch putt,” said Wood.
Romanian composer Joseph Canteloube wrote two pieces that Wood and Pifer will play as a duo. Wood said like much of Thursday’s program, both are vocal pieces arranged for trombone. These are connected to Romanian folk customs and French parlor songs.
The duo will perform their own arrangements of three tangos by 20th-century Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla. The very popular “Oblivion” will be featured as well as “La Muerte del Angel,” and “Libertango.”
Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams from England and Richard Strauss from Germany composed music around the turn of the 20th century. Thursday’s concert will feature what was originally a violin piece by Elgar that Wood described as, “definitely a song without words.” They will do two trombone-piano arrangements of art songs by Strauss and one by Vaughan Williams.
Pifer will perform short piano pieces by Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Tcherepnin, and Robert Schumann. The music was chosen specifically for its lyrical content.
Wood said the idea for a lyrically themed program was inspired by oboist Andrew Parker’s 2015 CD “The Singing Oboe.” On it, Parker recorded oboe transcriptions of art songs by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, and Robert Schumann. Wood also referenced the Chicago Symphony’s principal trombonist Jay Friedman, who in 2000 recorded “The Singing Trombone,” a CD of lyrical orchestral excerpts.
Though most of the pieces on Thursday’s program are very much lyrically based, Wood said two short pieces by composer Michael Davis may be the exception. Wood said Davis, the touring trombonist with the Rolling Stones, reveals musical influences from jazz and commercial music. Wood said Davis’ piece, “Clover” is more of a ballad with hints of Bach, and “Morning Rush” is straight-ahead jazz.
Dr. Wood is Associate Professor of Low Brass at Auburn University. A native of Columbia, Missouri, he received degrees from the University of Missouri and the University of Texas. Before moving to Auburn, Dr. Wood was an active performer, educator, and clinician in Central Texas. He performed with San Antonio-based BrassFX and the Austin City Brass as well as with the Austinbones trombone quartet. He performed and recorded with several pop, rock, and latin groups including Drew Smith and His Band.
Dr. Pifer is Lecturer in Piano at Auburn University, and has held positions at The Florida State University, Wittenberg University, and Miami University. During summer, he is faculty at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan, and previously served as faculty at Orfeo Music Festival in Italy. Pifer performs throughout the United States and Europe and leads masterclasses and clinics at universities, music teacher associations, and international conferences.

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