The School of Music’s season is entering its final days, but the remaining students are finishing strong with a few more performances.
The last two open recitals for School of Music students will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, August 9 and 4 p.m. Sunday, August 11 both in McKnight Hall. Since the Piano and Voice Programs have now both concluded, both recitals will feature students exclusively from the Instrumental Program.
The first of these recitals has eight students on the program: percussionist Alvin Macasero, violist Cristina Micci-Barreca, cellist Nathaniel Blowers, violinist Chihiro Kakishima, clarinetist Asher Harris, violinist Abigail Tsai, cellist David Myers and cellist Michael Puryear.
The final recital will feature five students: cellist Michael Frontz, French horn player Rebecca Salo, violinist William Gibb, violinist Rebecca Moy and violist Cameren Williams.
Since the students get to choose the pieces they will play, there is a wide variety of pieces on both programs, including works by such well-known greats as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Dmitri Shostakovich, Claude Debussy, and more. The music ranges from German to French to Russian to Spanish and beyond, and from classical to contemporary.
For example, Salo will be playing the first movement of Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, K. 417. It is a staple of the horn repertoire, and Salo finds it to be a particularly interesting piece because the horn Mozart wrote the piece for was different than the modern incarnation of the same instrument. Horns today tend to have a louder, grander sound; in Mozart’s day, they had a lightness and delicateness, which presents a stylistic challenge for players to replicate on modern horns.
“If you can play Mozart, that’s a good measure of how good of a musician you are,” Salo said.
For another example, Williams will be playing the second movement of Henri Vieuxtemps’ Viola Sonata in B-flat major, Op. 36. This movement is andante con moto, or “slowly, but with motion.” It is a nostalgic and bittersweet piece that seems to be meditating on distant memories.
“Whenever I play it, I try to think of something that I miss a lot,” Williams said. “Being here, I might think about my family — my brother, my sister, my mom and my dad. But there are some parts in this movement where … I feel like (it’s) remembering a lot of the happy times, … and then you go back to this really dark place and remember, oh, I’m not there.”
These recitals are the last opportunity instrumental students have to play as soloists. Besides the final Music School Festival Orchestra concert on Monday, they are the final performances of the School of Music season. Playing individually gives students a chance to put more personality into their interpretations of the music — a chance they don’t usually get when trying to blend with the full orchestra.
“You have that opportunity to show who you are as a musician,” Salo said. “You get to say something that is meaningful to you.”
As students approach the end of their time at Chautauqua — at least for this year — Salo and Williams are reflective and appreciative of what they’ve accomplished this season. From private classes to chamber music performances to collaborations as an orchestra with the dance, voice and Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra programs, they have gotten a taste of everything.
“I think it’s nice that they have us have those experiences, because I think it’s important as a musician to be able to be versatile in whatever playing you’re doing, and even in the subcategories of orchestral playing,” Williams said.