Information and Knowledge Enhance the Experience

On September 5, 2012 I had the opportunity to go to a faculty recital that featured Dr. Schendel and her trumpets. She collaborated with three fantastic keyboardists: Dr.Rene Lecuona, Dr. Greg Hand, and Jason Sifford. The beauty and the individuality of this concert not only came from the performance of the music but came from the information behind the music.

Dr. Schendel opened the concert with Sonata for Trumpet and Piano by Wayne Lu. The composer, who is a native of Iowa and is a friend of Dr. Schendel, was present at the concert. The beauty of the piece came from the contrasting musical ideas that appeared in each of the three movements. The first movement was quick and lively. The Andante was eerie, yet it turned resolute and hopeful towards the end. The third movement, entitled Fast, was very exciting but also, musically disjunct.  The piano part added the dissonance of the twentieth century such as clusters (groups of notes that contain close dissonances), parallel chords and other sonorities such as seconds and sevenths, etc… However, the music did not sound unpleasant but many times it enhanced the music of the trumpet and in my opinion, enhanced what the composer wanted to achieve.  I say this because I not only got to listen to the music and interpret it for myself, but I had the great opportunity to talk to the composer about his composition.

After the concert, Wayne Lu and I discussed his Sonata in greater detail. He wrote the piece for a fellow trumpeting friend, Kurt Gorman. He wanted to write a piece that would show off the musical talent of Gorman. But not only did he write a virtuosic piece for Gorman, but some of the music came because of what Gorman had experienced in his life. I brought up the second movement, as it was the most intriguing to me, and asked if there was any symbolism behind it. Lu explained that his friend had passed through a hard time in his life, but it is important to remember that we must be hopeful for the future and carry on.

Other pieces on the program such as In Memorium by Joseph Turrin or L’esprite de la trompette by James M. Stephenson also had background information that helped me connect more to the music. In Memorium was written for a friend of the composer whose mother passed away. I could hear the sadness and the loss, yet I could hear the joy of having the memories of family. L’esprite de la trompette was written recently as a commission to help raise money for one the composers’ students that he wanted to send to an international seminar.  Money was donated for the commission and he had the opportunity to send not only one, but three students. Although this story doesn’t seem all that important to the music itself, it gave a connection to the composer, the performer, and me, the listener. This information given to me gave more beauty to the pieces presented.

What was most pertinent to me during and after this concert was the realization that the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are not as abstract as we sometimes think. There is purpose, reason, and beauty behind each composition. I have learned that the more I am exposed to and the more I understand the music and the composers of the twentieth and twenty-first century, the more I come to appreciate and many times, enjoy the music more fully.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Information and Knowledge Enhance the Experience

  1. roasttonal

    I attended that concert as well and i have to say that she did such a great job with the programming of the music. The 20th century music she picked was pleasing to the ear, and at one point I thought, “What a cute piece! It is certainly memorable.” I believe that was on the James Stephenson piece. I think Dr. Schendel teaches us to not be afriad of 20th century music and if you’re going to play it, play it well because you enjoy it.

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