By: Ragan Love
Some people ask me what I do during finals for my music classes. I take written tests, but most of my examinations happen in the form of performing. This past week has been filled with three big performances and an informative masterclass.
On March 1, the Chamber, Rose, and Thorn choirs had one of the biggest concerts in PSU history. Award-winning conductor Eric Whiticare came to the school to conduct his own pieces. PSU invited over 300 high school singers to sing along with the university’s ensembles. The band accompanied the entire choir in one song “Sleep,” and we also played the piece “Machu Picchu.” Whitacre conducted his own arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This fantastic concert was the first choir performance accompanied by a wind band that I have attended or heard.
The morning of March 5, the PSU flute studio had a master class with Julee Kim Walker. A flute professor at Texas A&M-Commerce, Walker taught the flute studio for an hour. Three students performed and even though I wasn’t one of them, I learned so much by sitting in the room. She talked a lot about tone color with an accompaniment, which I have not thought about in my own piece. I took an entire page of notes and have been spending the past week applying her comments to my own repertoire.
On March 5, the University Band and Wind Ensemble gave their Winter quarter concert at the Foursquare Church in Beaverton. The University band performed the piece “Rainbows,” which was dedicated to a member of the band that passed away last summer who had conducted the same piece a year ago. My favorite piece performed by the University band was “Amperita Roca.” This is a very hype Spanish march that I played in my junior year of high school.
The wind ensemble played the two pieces that we performed at the choir concert and also some other amazing pieces. My favorite piece that I performed was Kevin Walczyk’s “From Glory to Glory.” This was a piece celebrating the life of band director Ray Cramer’s daughter Heather Ellen Cramer Reu. The ideas and concepts that are in this piece are so thought out and it is beautiful.. The other piece that I enjoyed playing was a John Philip Sousa march. “The White Rose” is one of the lesser-known marches by Sousa but is so groovy! It’s loud and circus-y and is a staple band piece.
Sunday, March 8, the flute studio gave their end of the quarter recital. This was my first performance with piano and my first recital ever. I played Samuel Barber’s “Canzone” as my solo piece and a trio piece: Gary Shocker’s “Flutes in the Garden: I– Madonna Lilies”. This fun performance helped me relieve some of the stress I felt about performing for juries. The rest of the flute students also performed their solo pieces and trios. It was a nice way to wrap up the quarter and hear what my peers have been working on.