Gala highlights faculty skills

The Music Building Concert Hall was filled with the talents of 16 of the College’s faculty members Oct. 4.

“We have a wonderful faculty who showed themselves very well tonight,” James Lentini, dean of the School of Art, Media and Music, said. “There was a great diversity in compositions.”

The Music Educators’ National Conference (MENC) and Shannon O’Connor, the MENC chairperson, organized the Faculty Music Gala.

“The first time I saw the professors perform was during my freshman year and I was just amazed … I thought that this was a great way to share that with everyone,” O’Connor said.

MENC is an organization designed to encourage the study and making of music among students and educators. The concert was held as a way to increase participation and awareness and help raise money for the College’s chapter.

It began with Linda Dempf, librarian; Kathryn Mehrtens, adjunct professor of music; and Tomoko Kanamaru, assistant professor of music performing “Goldcoast Harmony” composed by Eric Ewazen. Kanamaru’s animated choreography behind the piano was followed by 11 more astounding performances.

Ruotao Mao, adjunct professor of music; Robert McMahan, professor of music; and Kanamaru received a standing ovation for “Romp,” a one-movement piece composed by McMahan.

McMahan premiered the piece for the first time in New York about one month ago. “One of the obscurities of music is you can spend months and months working on a piece to perform it once,” McMahan said.

The audience clapped excitedly as Suzanne Hickman, associate professor of music and department chair, and Lynda Saponara, assistant professor of music, walked onstage to perform “Je Suis Titania from ‘Mignon,'” composed by Ambriose Thomas. Hickman sang directly to the crowd, capturing their attention with vivid facial expressions and hand gestures.

“(When performing vocally), the important part is telling the story and conveying the translation, especially when it’s in a foreign language, of every word to the audience,” Hickman said.

The Gala resumed after the intermission with a performance by William Trigg, adjunct professor of music, on the timpani. Trigg demonstrated his precision and technique with a two-part piece composed by Elliot Carter called “Suite from Eight Pieces for Timpani.”

Lentini performed one of his own works “Westward Voyage,” a piece written for William Kanengiser, guitarist. The song, completed in September 1999, is reminiscent of the time Lentini spent living in Los Angeles.

“(When on stage), you never know exactly what’s going to happen,” Lentini said. “That’s what makes it exciting, like walking a tight rope … you just try to entrance yourself in the music.”

Earlier, Lentini had performed “Mother Songs” with his wife, Dana Lentini. The performance had a personal touch to it, as Lentini wrote the song about a woman who, like his wife, is expecting.

Ruotao Mao and Kanamaru performed a two-part piece composed by Cesar Franck.

“They have great interaction with each other,” Kathleen Phelan, alumna of the music department, said.

The night concluded with a jazz ensemble performance. “We’re more of a classical school, so I thought the jazz trio was a good change,” Jason Price, junior music education major, said.

Overall, the night was full of great interaction between the students and the faculty. “It was really fun to play for the students,” Wayne Heisler, assistant professor of music history, said. “I hope they enjoyed it.”