On Wednesday, January 29, the Alumni Recital Hall at the Redfern Arts Center was filled with students, faulty and community members to see resident artist Christopher Swist’s percussive fusion recital. With 17 years at Keene State College under his belt, Swist debuted “fused possibilities and colors” to showcase the evolution of percussion music as the styles have changed over the years.
With a performance as unique as this, Swist stressed the importance of planning and programming in order to not only create continuity but move the audience as well. “I think programming is the first most important thing, how you go back and forth between how you select the contour of the program. Sometimes there’s a very acoustic piece that has no electronics and different instruments and that leads right into a completely contrasting piece, so programming and the order of the program is something that recitalists should think about quite a bit and how it impacts the audience,” Swist explained.
As for how long a performance like this takes to prepare, Swist stated that “some pieces are brand new and other pieces you’ve had in your repertoire for years.” The oldest piece in his set was “11 Solos for the Drum Set” from 1978, while the two newest pieces were from 2019.
One of the new additions to his set, “Dave,” was Swist’s favorite piece to perform due to the sentimental meaning behind it. The piece was dedicated to Dave Samuels, one of Swift’s mentors and teachers who died last year.
As for the audience members, first-year Joshua Fellows expressed his appreciation for “Looking for Stars,” a new piece by Ted Mann that made its debut Wednesday night. Fellows said that the piece made him feel “tranquil and somehow in another world.”
Another first-year Holly Hujsak stated that she “liked the artisticness and creativity of some of the pieces” and that the performance was overall “very enjoyable to watch.”
The performance not only had a diverse array of musical instruments but also showcased a unique piece, composed by Leah Asher and performed by Amy Graphic, which only used paper and wood.
Overall, Swist’s recital was an amazing experience and he was very happy with the way it came together. “It’s nice to have my friends and fellow faculty here, that’s the best part of this. A lot of it is my show, obviously, but when you can invite your friends on stage they bring a lot of different ideas,” Swist said. He also joked about his former students sharing the stage with him. “George Robinson was actually my student here at Keene State years ago and now he’s a faculty member. So other than feeling old, it’s nice to see them join me on stage for something like this,” Swist said.
Isabella Echavarria can be contacted