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Summer strings

Texas Music Festival continues concert series

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07


Roger Zhang -- The BATTALION

Musicians perform at the University Summer performance series at the Annenberg Conference Center

Including sounds from Paris to Australia and back to Berlin — all in one night — the Texas Music Festival brought an international atmosphere to
College Station.

The University Summer Performance Series kicked off its second concert Monday evening with an international tour of composers and music, dating back to the 1800s.

The musicians were faculty members from the University of Houston, playing pieces by composers from various regions of the world.

Kristen Pullen, director of the Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts at Texas A&M University, who helped put on the event, said the concert was a very personal and intimate experience.

“ It’s an oasis of art and music in this time of year, taking you somewhere very different,” Pullen said.

It certainly did.

The first piece, written by Gabriel Faure of France, “Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 13” was composed in 1875 and performed by Zuo Jun on violin and Timothy Hester on piano. It’s a four-part piece with the first section mostly calm, but interrupted with crashing moments of furious strumming by the violin. The piece then moves to a somber feel with less climbs, andin the third it picks up into an upbeat, steadier tempo, finishing in the fourth with dramatic undertones.

In attendance that night was former A&M English professor, Paul Parrish, who, with his wife Linda, have been attending this series for many years.

“Tonight was wonderful, we’ve been coming since the beginning, and it’s always excellent,” Paul said.

The second piece took the audience to 20th-century Australia. “Threnody,” written by Peter Sculthorpe in 1992, was performed by Richard Belcher, a cellist. Belcher explained beforehand to the audience that the song was written as a memorial and a lament to Sculthorpe’s colleague who died in 1990.  And as expected, the song was somber and reminiscent, starting with a shattering beginning; the piece was one solid movement in four parts and made listeners feel the grief of its composer.

Linda Parrish, a former professor at A&M as well, of educational psychology, enjoyed the performance as much as the rest of the crowd.

“It’s always different, each year and each event,” Linda said. “We’re very fortunate to have such professional performers come to College

The final piece of the evening was “Quartet No. 2 for Piano and Strings in A Major, Op. 26,” written by Johannes Brahms of Germany in 1861 and performed by a quartet of musicians. This piece, like the others, was also in four parts, and throughout the strings and piano seemed to duel and at others they worked together seamlessly to weave a full sound for the audience throughout each part.

The summer series will continue June 18 with, “Made in America.” This performance will include Aaron Copland’s “Sonata for Violin” and works by Michael Colgrass and Houston composer, Pierre Jalbert, highlighting American music heritage. The concert series wraps up June 26 with a concert exploring the many colors of instrumental writing, featuring Beethoven’s “Septet for Stings and Winds,” Jennifer Higdon’s “Trio for Piano and Strings” and Libby Larsen’s “Barn Dances.”

The events will be held in the Hagler Auditorium in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, starting at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $7 for students and $25
for general admission.

Music has the power to take an audience through time and space. Students should check out the Texas Music Festival while it is in College Station.


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