Musical groups showcase soloists in department concert
The lights go down. A string of guitarists (and one bass) sit on the front of the stage and begin to play. The piece is entitled “Rumba,” written by Bernard Andres. It feels quite Spanish or Latin, especially as a sole drummer accompanies the guitars. When they are finished, the audience applauds loudly. This is how the Student Spotlight concert on Jan. 27 began. The performance consisted of three different musical groups, the Guitar Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble. It was held in the Belk Theater in Robinson Hall.
The show continued with the introduction of the Chamber Orchestra. They performed four songs, each featuring a soloist. Their first piece was “Romance for Violin and Orchestra in G, Op. 26” composed by Johann Svendsen. The Soloist was Idunn Lohne on the violin, who stood front and center in a beautiful dress. The work explored a number of different tempos and emotions and demonstrated the range of Lohne’s playing. You could see her passion in her performance as she often closed her eyes and seemed to really feel the piece. This was followed by “Concerto for Horn and Orchestra in E-flat, KV 417” by W.A. Mozart. The piece featured Benjamin Shafer playing the Horn. Though he seemed to be slightly nervous at first, it was unnoticeable in his music. The sound of his horn was always clear and confident. At the end of the piece, the large smile that spread across his face showed that he knew how well he had done.
The highlight of the night was the performance of “Signore Ascolta” from Turandot and “Art is Calling for Me” from The Enchantress. Soprano singer Cecily Bednarek brought down the house with her high soprano notes and enthralling performance. The first work was a classic opera piece in Italian. Bednarek truly channeled distress and sadness. This was completely changed by the second song, in which she played an over the top royal who longs to be a star (specifically, a prima donna). Bednarek interacted with the audience and used large hand gestures. It was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. Personally, I still can’t believe someone’s voice can go that high.
After a brief intermission, the evening finished with the Jazz Ensemble. They played three pieces. The first was “Interloper” composed by Thad Jones. This song started loud and strong, catching the audience’s attention. It also featured a number of soloists, of which the drum player Colin Ray especially stood out. This was followed by “Nardis” by Miles Davis and arranged by George Stone. It featured solo performer Casey Blackwelder on Trumpet. In contrast to the first, this piece had a much cooler and smooth tone. The final piece of the night was “Tones for Joan’s Bones” written by Chick Corea and arranged by Mike Tomaro. Brian Gilbert had a solo on the guitar while Bryce Harris shone on the soprano saxophone.
Overall, all of the music was exceptionally performed and everyone seemed to be very passionate about their art. It was a lovely way to spend an evening.