Improvisation and Musicals Take Center Stage at Final Student Recital of Fall Term

Using the numbers nine, two, six and eleven, Charles Stacy ’16 launched into a complex improvisational piece at Wednesday’s student recital. The four numbers, Stacy explained to the audience, corresponded to specific notes on the piano that he used as the basis for his impromptu composition. Stacy used the piano’s pedals to slur together simple chords that melded together into a rich melody.

Stacy was one of 17 performers at the Student Recital on Wednesday afternoon in the Timken Room of Graves Hall. As the last student recital of Fall Term, the concert featured a wide variety of musicians performing a repertoire ranging from classical concertos to songs from contemporary musicals.

Jennifer Lawson ’19 performed the second movement of “Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on the clarinet, accompanied by Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music, on the piano. The composition started slowly, consisting of smooth, soft notes, with the melody switching between the piano and clarinet. A series of fast scales, which are strings of consecutive notes, introduced the middle portion of the piece. The piece ended with the same melody from the beginning.

Lawson said, “What I enjoy about this second movement is how relaxing and smooth it is. It’s the type of piece that you can close your eyes to and get lost in, or perhaps even fall asleep to, which I mean in the best way. In addition, I appreciate Mozart’s use of rhythm in the accompaniment; it propels the melody forward without rushing it at all, which I think is an important aspect to the piece’s overall sense of calmness.”

Herbie Rimerman ’17 contrasted the classical clarinet piece with his performances of “Sonntag, Op. 47, No. 3” by Johannes Brahms and “Promises, Promises,” by Burt Bacharach, from the musical “Promises, Promises.” “Sonntag” started off with slow, long notes before transitioning to a louder, intense composition. “Promises, Promises” began with a series of fast chords on the piano. The tempo persisted in the vocal part, creating an energetic and lively tone.

Rimerman said, “I like the Brahms, because it is very simple. It is not vocally challenging but what is challenging is that it is so slow and so simple, the expression has to be on point for the entire piece. It is really really hard to do. In fact I am still not done working on it. I like singing ‘Promises, Promises’ mostly in conjunction with Brahms’s ‘Sonntag,’ because they are so incredibly different, and it is such a fun transition between the two pieces.”
One of the final performances of the night was Yixuan Zhao ’18 playing “Andante et Scherzo” by Louis Ganne on the flute, with Walter providing accompaniment on the piano. The piece began with several trills and glissandos, which are cascades of consecutive notes. These techniques created a light and airy sound in the song. Zhao also executed several large jumps throughout the song, transitioning between high notes and low notes.

Zhao said, “The piece itself is lovely and provided challenges that I enjoyed working through; wide jumps between notes being a primary challenge. I do love the musicality of the piece – there are many sections that dip and swell, and as a stronger musical than technical player, those are always a pleasure for me to play.”