SMC Faculty Concert Amazes Crowd with Music

"Diminutive in size," Bill Augustine, a pianist, said while holding a telephone book in his hand, "was the only thing. His music was gigantic."

Augustine had just finished sharing an anecdote about the late composer Erroll Garner, and how the man had to play in performances sitting on a book due to his short stature. Shortly after this story, Augustine sat down and began reciting one of Garner's works to prove his point.

And that was how Sunday evening at the SMC Performing Arts Center progressed - a gigantic assortment of skill. Various members of the school's faculty and their equally talented friends gathered to participate in a free concert where they showcased their musical finesse that they'd developed and acquired throughout their years.

The program itself was an eclectic mix of genres and instruments that ensured all attendees of the event that at least one specific performance would move them. This included classical, jazz, folksongs, and other types of musical styling that engaged the audience for two and a half hours.

Among the musicians scheduled to perform was Joan Mills, a pianist who decided to play Chopin that evening. What followed was a captivating rendition, a flurry of notes and chords that sounded nearly impossible to play to the untrained ear.

Karen Benjamin, a soprano singer, graced the stage with three American folksongs. The first two, "Once I Had a Sweetheart" and "Single Girl," were light-hearted and at one point, even elicited chuckles from the audience. She then finished with the popular ballad, "Amazing Grace," and received a round of applause from the crowd.

Another performance was from the Wirechoir Ensemble, a group of guitarists that played two jazz songs for the attendees, further proof that there was something for everyone in this show.

Arguably the most unique piece was the compositions by George Crumb, played by pianist Sumy Takesue. Takesue began with a brief explanation of Crumb's distinct style, and how the excerpts she was about to play were inspired and modeled after the Zodiac. The first part of her performance, "Primeval Sounds (Genesis I)," truly gave the impression of a dark, ancient period with low, harsh tones. The piece continued with jagged notes here and there until it softened, a fitting change as it transitioned to the last piece, "Dream Images (Love-Death Music)."

Diana Zaslove Kahn, a mezzo soprano vocalist, shared three Ladino folksongs and was accompanied by Bronwen Jones on clarinet, and Jamie Papish, a percussionist. It was a vibrant, ethnic performance as Kahn sung in sync with the ascending and descending notes of the clarinet. At one point, Kahn even brought out castanets for her last song, which only added to the overall enjoyable piece.

The last performance of the evening was by Greg Schreiner and Rhoda Tuit, the current chairpersons of the SMC Music Department. Both musicians partnered up for a rendition of the classic "Hungarian Rhapsody #2" by Franz Liszt. What ensued was a sharp, crisp and extremely organized performance.   


While having two people play piano at the same time sounded rather difficult, Schreiner and Tuit made the seemingly daunting task look capable to anyone, which may have been the intention. If the faculty of SMC could play so flawlessly, then why can't we? The talent showcased only made me consider signing up for a music class the next semester.

"The concert was very exhilarating," Fedora Nikbakht, 22, exclaimed after the event was over. When asked about her favorite piece, Fedora stated, "To be honest, I would say the Hungarian Rhapsody was my favorite. My second was the Ladino folksongs, but all in all, they were all good in their own unique way."

If you missed this performance, there is no need to fret. The musicians were, after all, faculty members of the school, and some have lectures and performances scheduled for the upcoming months at the SMC Performing Arts Center. If you're interested, contact the Music office. Skillful talent will be guaranteed for all events.