FSU’s College of Music is regarded as one of the best university level music programs in the nation. When you have the faculty who lead such a legendary program come together and show off their talent, it’s going to be hard to beat. The most recent faculty showcase occurred this past Friday in Opperman Hall. It was an hour and a half of pure pleasure for my ears.
The program included works from well-known composers such as Liszt, Hindemith and Tchaikovsky. Beyond the compositions of these three, the show included a breathtaking cello and violin duet by Halvorsen, performed by Associate Professors Greg Sauer (cello) and Corrinne Stillwell (violin) along with a lively and dialogic suite for violin (Ben Sung), clarinet (Johnathan Holden) and piano (Read Gainsford), composed by David Milhaud.
Not set only to instruments, the program also included excerpts from a song cycle by Gerald Finzi (‘Let Us Garlands Bring’) based on Shakespearean poetry. These selections were sung by Daniel Belcher, who won a Grammy in 2010 and is world renowned for his operatic baritone voice.
Mixed in with faculty were a scattering of saxophone players. The Illume Quartet (John McCoy, Chris Sacco, Galo Morales and Tyler Young) is composed of four students who have all won national awards and competitions for their musical abilities. These four got the chance to play a saxophone piece composed by Gabriel Pierné. Also in the mix was one half of another saxophone quartet, Singularity. This quartet won the Florida State University College of Music 2014 Sight, Sound and Motion Contest, a part of FSU’s entrepreneurial initiatives. As the winners, the group will be playing in Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the ‘Noles in New York Celebration. However, only half of the group could make it for the faculty showcase. Even with just half their members, they still performed a beautifully dissonant saxophone duet by Hindemith.
The performance ended with a stunning Elegie by Franz Liszt and a polish-dancing piece by Tchaikovsky. The critically acclaimed pianist Joel Hastings held nothing back as he laid his fingers to the ivories.
Most of the time, our faculty’s skills are shown off only by the reflections of their students. We can see how great they are only by the greatness of those that they teach, which I am sure is to the pleasure of many of these educators. No less, amidst all of the great student performances that go on at our university, it is a rare treat to be able to get a first hand taste of the talent of our great faculty. The next full concert performed by faculty will be a Faculty Chamber Showcase Concert on February 13, 2015. So if you have a taste for good music and want to hear the best our renowned College of Music has to offer, I highly recommend you attend.
By ROBERT COCANOUGHER / Managing Editor