April 19, 2024

The wind was howling loudly on the evening of Jan. 29, but inside Krieg Hall, all anyone could hear was the quiet sound of guitar strings.

Xavier Davenport graduated from Witt last spring, but returned to put on a guitar recital, which was the first of the semester. The recital debuted two works written by him: “Shady Lawn” and “Suite for Woodland Creatures.” In addition to several pieces for solo guitar, the recital also featured flutist Alex O’Connor, ’20, as a guest musician.

One outstanding piece that Davenport performed was the “Usher Waltz,” inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

“It’s certainly a vivid piece,” Davenport said of the waltz, as he tuned his guitar in preparation.

Davenport performed the “Usher Waltz” at his senior recital last year, and it was a hit, which is why he chose to perform it again this semester. The piece is moody, swinging violently between quiet and tense picking to aggressive and alarming strumming. It is a technically challenging song, but Davenport made it look effortless.

Davenport’s composition, “The Suite for Woodland Creatures,” had five movements each named after a different animal, all of which Davenport remarked “are found in Ohio, which is very convenient.”

Before the beginning of each movement, he briefly explained his inspiration for the music that represented the woodland creature, offering joking comments like “I don’t know if woodpeckers bathe or anything, but there’s a section that sort of conveys that.”

His jests aside, each movement was unique and had a distinct theme for the corresponding animal. The final movement, which was titled “Deer,” reintroduced each of the previous animals themes as the deer symbolically bounded through the woods past all of the previous animals.

Davenport is an incredibly skilled musician, and a strong guitar player, and his performance was a welcome respite from the bitter cold outside.

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