Students perform musical works composed by KSC faculty
On Wednesday, March 7 the eleventh annual Faculty Composers Concert took place at Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center.
The Alumni Recital Hall hosted combined faculty in order for them to display pieces of music they had originally composed.
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Started by Professor of music Craig Sylvern, the annual Faculty Composers Concert began because Sylvern noticed talent and prose among the faculty.
He gathered other professors in the music major that liked to compose and started performing with them each year.
“My colleague Dr. Craig Sylvern started the concert 11 years ago, and he’s been curating it ever since. I just admire all the work he puts into organizing it and inviting people to play. It just kind of showcases the remark of variety, I think talent and composition style and interest that we have here on the faculty,” José Manuel Lezcano, a concert performer and composer, said.
Christopher Swist has also been a part of the Faculty Composers Concert for nine years, “I was hired in 2003, and I met Craig Sylvern right away and became one of the faculty composers. I put a piece right on it and I think I’ve had a piece on every year. It’s a great opportunity. It doesn’t even happen at a lot of different conservatories and music schools I’ve been at over the years. The nice thing about a concert like this is that you see a very distinct contrast between styles of writing.”
This year, the concert started with a piece called “Digitorum” composed by Craig Sylvern.
The piece featured Sylvern on tenor saxophone and Swist, also a professor of music, on percussion. Inside the program notes Sylvern states, “The Latin word for digits, Digitorum, is based on the numbers six, seven, and eight, where each movement reflects the musical style related to the name. It is six parts and uses a meter that divides six each measure into six beats.”
The piece after Digitorum composed by Swist and Sylvern titled “Duo Mobile,” featured a darkening of the Recital Hall, and an accompaniment of mood lighting.
Sylvern stayed on tenor Saxophone, as Swist also stayed on percussion. Sylvern commented in the program notes, “Mobile takes on two of its meanings in Duo Mobile. In one aspect, mobile is being prepared for change. This due is scored for a drum set with a choice of tenor saxophone, vibraphone, electric guitar, or violin.”
Swist stated, “The tracks contain extensive use of FM synthesis, filtering, effects, mix automation and crossfades. There is a slight homage to Terry Riley’s In C as the rhythmic sections are kept together with a high octave piano metronome.”
William D. Pardus’ piece “Variations on the Krakowiak” enlisted the help of Susan Henkel on oboe, David Flemming on flute, Mary Seaver on clarinet, Joy Flemming on bassoon, and Rebecca Krause-Hardie on French horn.
“The Krakowiak is a traditional Polish fold dance, from the Krakow region,” Pardus said. “The earliest examples of the Krakowiak rhythm appear in organ music, lute tablatures, and songbooks of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries..”
Another piece composed by Pardus, the next song titled “The Emperor’s Bird’s Nest” had the only vocal section of the concert. It displayed Joy Flemming on bassoon again, Pamela Stevens as a mezzo soprano singer, and Cheryl Sharrock on piano.
Pardus states in the program, “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of America’s most prolific poets of the nineteenth century — writing such well-known works as Evangeline, Paul Revere’s Ride and Song of Hiawatha — as well as many shorter poems. The Emperor’s Bird’s-Nest is one of the rare poems that exhibit Longfellow’s tongue-in-cheek humor.”
The finale of the concert “Concierto Cubanero” composed by José Manuel Lezcano, had all of the performers plus others on stage.
It featured Lezcano on guitar, Marcia Lehinger on violin, Moby Pearson also on violin, Joseph Darby on viola, Zon Eastes on cello, Don Baldini on bass, Henkel on oboe, Robin Matathias on flute, Sylvern on clarinet, Flemming on bassoon, Krause-Hardie on French horn, and James Chesebrough conducting.
Lezcano commented in the pamphlet, “Concierto Cubanero, a mini-concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra (strings and woodwind quintet), is a nostalgic tribute to Cuban musical idioms like the Bolero, Cha-cha-cha, and the sounds of Orquesta Tipica. Extensive solo passages for winds complement the solo guitar writing. The title “Cubanero” is whimsical and alliterative. Concierto Cubanero is dedicated to Ingrid, my wife, and my mother Raquel.”
Eric Jedd can be contacted at