Collage Concert showcases talent
One can hear the wailing of bagpipes from blocks away, even above the din of Pittsburgh traffic. Last Friday night, the sounds of bagpipes echoed off the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, enticing passersby to come in and attend the Carnegie Mellon School of Music’s Collage Concert.
The Collage Concert is an annual event that showcases performances from Carnegie Mellon’s major music ensembles, as well as solo performances by Carnegie Mellon’s students and faculty, with 21 performances in total. Before the concert on Friday began, Noel Zabler, the head of the School of Music, spoke to the audience and requested that they hold their applause until the very end of the concert. As he stepped off stage, the Kiltie Pipe Band began to march down the aisles of the hall, bagpipes blaring and drum mallets twirling. They lined up at the front of the hall and stood there to perform, all of the bagpipes playing perfectly in sync, before processing out of the hall.
As the concert continued, the audience members quickly realized why Zabler had requested they hold their applause until the end of the concert: The moment one musical group finished playing its piece, the spotlights would flash onto a different part of the stage, where a different group of performers would immediately begin playing. Despite Zabler’s request, there were several performances for which the audience seemed unable to hold back a burst of applause. One such performance was junior violinist Emma Steele’s performance of “Variations on an Original Theme,” by Henryk Wieniawski. Steele’s performance showcased both her incredible technical prowess and her artistic range, as her playing styles ranged from powerful to playful to sentimental.
Other highlights from the concert included “Parvis” by Bernard Andres, a harp duet performed by Natalie Severson and Vanessa Young (a sophomore music major and master’s candidate, respectively). Although most might associate harps solely with soothing, heavenly-sounding music, this piece proved that harps can play more than angelic arpeggios; the duet was quirky and mysterious and showcased the skills of both harpists. Similarly, the Carnegie Mellon Guitar Ensemble proved that there is more to the guitar than the chords one hears in pop songs with its performance of Leo Brouwer’s “Toccata.”
Some of the soloists’ song selections did not best showcase their talent; for example, William Caballero, an associate teaching professor of horn, is a talented player who has been the principal horn player in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for over 20 years. However, his piece, “Dance Fool Dance” by Paul Bassler, didn’t sufficiently showcase his skill. The piece, a contemporary composition, featured a backing track that sounded like a synthesized orchestra, which overwhelmed and distracted from Caballero’s performance.
The concert ended with “Promise of Living from The Tender Land” by Aaron Copland, performed by the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic and Choirs. The piece was uplifting and sweet, evoking images of sunrises and rolling plains, and served as the perfect, heartwarming ending to an evening of spectacular talent.