On Sunday Jan. 28, interested students, faculty and community members piled into the Alumni Recital Hall to see Resident Artist Christopher Swist celebrate his fifteenth year at Keene State College. Although he is better known for his music created on the marimba, Swist decided to showcase his talent on the vibraphone to commemorate the event. The recital was Swist’s first vibraphone-exclusive concert.
With a concert of this importance, Swist explained the large amount of practice and planning that went into the performance.
“I spent my whole winter break here,” Swist joked. Swist then acknowledged the contributions of all those involved and their willingness to help. “I knew that if I asked my friends to write pieces that they were going to write something, and that’s always exciting,” Swist expressed.
Unique to many of the performances at KSC, the entire program was written by professors and faculty at the college. First-year Kacie Palmacci expressed that that was one of the factors which made her decide to attend the recital.
“I knew that a lot of the pieces were faculty composed, so I thought that was really cool. I have or have had all of the professors that are listed [in the program],” Palmacci stated. In addition, after each song, the lights were turned on in order to give Swist the opportunity to acknowledge the composer sitting in the audience.
During the performance, three new pieces were debuted. Featured composer, Andrew Smith’s piece “Solder,” was well received amongst audience members. “It [Solder] had a lot of dissonance and a lot of contrast with long held out notes; not a lot of rhythmic stuff but definitely more haunting and eerie,” Junior Corinne Colgrove expressed.
Also declaring “Solder” as the piece that stood out to her was Palmacci. “I really liked Solder by Andrew Smith. I thought that one was really cool, and I like his style.”
While having to learn new music is challenging, Swist expressed he believes the most difficult part of playing any sort of percussion is the choreography of it. Swist explained the importance of using a specific mallet to obtain the correct sound the composer is looking for.
“You literally have to organize where you set your mallets; whether on the left or right, and give yourself enough time [to change mallets],” Swist said.
All the music showcased in the recital was modern, with the oldest piece being from 1998. This made for a performance that was not typical for the Redfern Arts Center Palmacci explained.
“This is definitely one of a kind for Keene State. Most of the performances here are straight forward, very classical pieces, but this is definitely breaking those boundaries.”
Swist’s goal for this recital was to create unique and original music, which is something he has loved doing since he was an undergraduate.
“Some people like to listen to what’s comfortable and they know, but a lot of people like to listen to something that is completely unknown and original. I think most of the pieces in this program are.”
Erin McNemar can be contacted at email@example.com