March 1, 2024

A trio of viola, piano and oboe performing a piece about goblins and the moon. A daring piece on the harpsichord (you know, the ancient piano thing they use in network sitcoms as a sound effect to signal “Ye Olde Days”). A polka tuba solo so good it would bring Polish grandmothers to their feet in jubilation. Those were just some of the performances at the Opening Faculty Artist Recital this past Wednesday, Sept. 12.

The recital was nothing short of amazing because of the palpable passion in the Wittenberg music department. Though the music was predominantly classical, the fact it was played by either students with instructors or by instructors with other instructors made it the essence of rock ‘n roll. At the first recital of the school year, Witt got the band back together.

For example, one piece was “Duet I, Opus 27.” The song was written by Philadelphian cellist Marcel Farago and played by Dr. Daniel Kazez on cello and student Nicholas Weissman, ‘21, on bassoon. It was a crowd favorite, probably because cellos and bassoons are underdogs in the music community. For reference, imagine how awesome a Rocky Balboa and The Mighty Ducks duet would sound.

Another piece mentioned earlier was aptly titled “Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola, and Piano” The music was written by Charles Martin Loeffler and performed by Wittenberg’s own Lisa Grove, Elizabeth Hofeldt and Laurie Smith, playing each instrument respectively. The song was hauntingly beautiful and something included in the program only enhanced the experience: a poem, titled “The Pool,” written by Philip Hale. It reads, “Over yonder, goblins light up more than one marsh that is black, sinister, unbearable; but the pool is revealed to this lonely place only by the croakings of consumptive frogs…” Reading this, all the while listening to music provided by Wittenberg faculty, was an emotional experience of the senses impossible to describe.

The impact of the music did not stop at the audience. Something implicit in most music is that there is a story behind every song.

Some stories are about young Jewish composers escaping the Holocaust to write music for Hollywood films, told to the audience by Lawrence Pitzer before playing some on the guitar. Some are about two gentlemen from Verona, as performed by Diane Slagle on piano and David Schubert with his booming baritone voice.

These stories are told throughout generations and recited by respected elders, just like the instructors of Wittenberg.

The stories become richer because the instructors grow closer after every performance.

“The more you play together as an ensemble the better you get, and a better friendship is developed. Normally we’re just in our studios all by ourselves or with a student, so we never get to interact unless we get together…then we know each other a little bit better,” said trombone instructor Denver Seifried.

Make sure to be on the lookout for upcoming musical performances in the following semester.

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