I’ll be honest, I am not a big music person and my knowledge of the ins and outs of live performances is very limited. That being said, my decision to attend Rowe Recital Hall for the first Faculty and Friends Concert in part of the Department of Music’s ongoing series was definitely the right choice. I had no clue what I was about to see when I walked in the doors of Rowe Hall on the night of Aug. 28 and to my surprise, I left with a whole new appreciation for the wildly talented faculty here at UNC Charlotte, as well as an interest in learning more about the classical music genre. Simply put, this is a concert that anyone could find interesting and entertaining due to the powerful performers and raw emotions on stage.
The night began with an ensemble performance that can be best characterized as an examination of the complex connection between novelist James Joyce and his troubled daughter Lucia. The performers included pianist Leonard Mark Lewis, tenor Brian Arreola, violinist Kari Giles, oboist Elizabeth Sullivan, clarinetist Jessica Lindsey and cellist Mira Frisch; these six beautifully blended their individual instruments to create pure magic. The emotions could obviously be heard, but also seen on the faces of the musicians as they took the audience on a journey. Giles stood out most to me as she sent a wave of passion throughout the hall, transitioning from lush and calming melodies to vibrant and energetic cacophonies.
This ensemble was a tough act to follow, but soprano Allison Deeter and pianist Erin Palmer certainly lived up to the challenge. The two performed “Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin,” which translates to “three poems of Louise de Vilmorin,” the famed French poet and novelist. Deeter is the definition of a performer as her beautiful singing voice compliments her expressive facial and body movements; singing the lyrics is only part of her way of telling the story as the physicality helps to convey the wide range of emotions and elements of drama.
Next up was another pairing; this time in the form of bass-baritone Carl DuPont and pianist Armen Shaomian, who performed four pieces, each with their own unique feel. The pieces were titled “A Love Song,” “O Del Mio Amato Ben,” “Herz, Mein Herz, Sei Nicht Beklommen” and “Adieu, jusque je vous revoye.” DuPont’s grand voice perfectly complimented the superb musicality of Shaomian; the deep singing voice of DuPont resonated throughout the hall, bringing chills to those in the audience.
Palmer returned to the stage to perform on the piano alongside Christine Pier, a soprano. This duo utilized their respective talents to present the Russian works, “Kak mne bol’no,” “Zdes khorosho” and Ne poy krasavitsa, pri mne.” Calling Pier’s voice powerful is quite the understatement as her operatic sound brought the hall to life; she truly knows how to take control of the stage and the venue, assuring that the entire audience becomes surrounded by the melodies. This phenomenon allowed for the onlookers to be pulled into the story, feeling the full weight of the emotions.
As the night began to wrap up, the feeling of excitement was still present and that continued when Deeter, DuPont and Palmer took the stage once again to put on a performance of “Quanto amore.” With Deeter in the role of Adina, DuPont in the role of Dr. Dulcamara and Palmer playing the piano, the trio told a short story with a heavy emphasis on passion, emotions and love. This individual performance was yet another highlight of the evening as Deeter and DuPont exude a diverse collection of feelings all the while having impeccable chemistry with one another.
The concert came to an end with a final performance featuring Pier, Arreola and Palmer. Titled “Libiamo,” this presentation was an epic showcase of the talents of the three; the blending of Pier and Arreola’s voices helped to conclude the concert with a bang. While Arreola previously performed with the ensemble earlier in the show, this piece really allowed him to have a moment in the spotlight and showcase his wonderful talent. Once again, Pier’s strength was put on full display and her commanding spirit gave the audience a final jolt of energy. Palmer absolutely has to be commended for her skills as a pianist, establishing a feeling a familiarity throughout each of the acts.
This was the first Faculty and Friends concert that I have attended at UNC Charlotte and it certainly won’t be the last. This concert gives the wickedly talented faculty the chance to demonstrate their skills to their peers, students and the general public. As I mentioned previously, I have no real knowledge or experience with this genre of music, but even I was enthralled by the showmanship and raw emotions that I saw on the stage. Rowe Recital Hall was definitely the perfect venue as it allowed for a more intimate experience that connected the audience with the performers. With several upcoming shows in the Faculty and Friends Concert Series, there are plenty of chances to witness the talent of UNC Charlotte’s finest faculty members. For showtimes and ticket information, visit http://coaa.uncc.edu/.