Loralee Songer and Perry Mears from Iowa Will Perform
Pianist Perry Mears
Soprano Loralee Songer
Pianist Perry Mears
Soprano Loralee Songer
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.
Pictured: Jeremy Samolesky
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.