Students Incorporate Improvisation And Acting at Family Weekend Recital

Gesturing enthusiastically to a crowd of parents, Herbie Rimmerman ’17 created waves of laughter as he sang “C’est Moi,” a song from Frederick Loewe’s musical “Camelot.” Rimmerman’s movements enlivened his rendition and embodied the boastful nature of the song’s lyrics, including “I blush to disclose, I’m far too noble to lie.” Rimmerman performed “C’est Moi” at the Family Weekend Student Recital.

“This song is funny because the guy who’s singing the song, Lancelot, is so full of himself. I studied this song a little, and it seems to me that he genuinely believes all these great things about himself. There’s just so much bravado, and he’s so self-assured in his song… I really approached it as an acting piece,” said Rimmerman.

Rimmerman was one of the ten performers at the Family Weekend Student Recital last Saturday in the Timken Room in Graves Hall. The concert featured a range of pieces from comical musical theater numbers to peaceful violin sonatas.

Alex Goldberg ’18 opened the concert playing “Concerto in B minor, No. 3. Op. 61,” by Camille Saint-Saëns on the violin. The piece started with a violin melody that climbed to a high pitch, contrasting with the low piano notes. Then short, staccato violin notes played on and off with the booming piano, simulating an argument between the instruments which increased in tempo until the piece reached a climax. The song then mellowed, with a fluid violin melody over fluttering piano notes.

Yifei Wu ’17, another performer in the recital, said, “[Goldberg] is very talented, and his performance was so musical. It’s quite extraordinary for someone his age, the amount of practice he was putting in, and [the piece] came out with no cracks. It was pretty much perfect. He coordinated so well with [Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music, who accompanied the piece]. The two of them had a lot of eye contact and that facilitated the song. It’s kind of a duet even though he’s the one playing.”

Another performer, Charles Stacy ’16 started his piece by asking the audience to pick numbers that correlated to musical notes. He then used these notes to improvise a piece on the piano. The song began with jagged single notes before moving into a peaceful, even melody with sections of tingling high notes and loud bass chords. However, this peace was often broken by seemingly random discordant notes.

“[This improvisation] was harder because the pitches sounded more random. Last time I did it, I got G, E flat, A flat, D, which are really in E flat major, so there was a tonal center. This time it was really chromatic, and it kind of jumped all around. Melodies are usually defined by stepwise motion, but this was kind of all over the place, so it was a bit harder to improvise something that was continuous,” said Stacy.
Angela Tang ’16, the last performer in the concert, played “Violin Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24,” also known as “Spring” by Ludwig van Beethoven, on the violin. Featuring slow, smooth violin sections contrasting with rapid piano notes, the piece created a peaceful atmosphere for the audience.

Tang wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Leonard Bernstein once said that Beethoven had the ‘inexplicable ability to know what the next note had to be.’ The Violin Sonata No. 5, ‘Spring,’ is simple, elegant, gentle. The first theme is irreducible. There’s no way he could have written it in a way that better encompasses what one feels about nature.”