MC pianists host duet recital

When most people think of piano recitals, solo pieces from composers like Beethoven and Chopin often come to mind. But on Feb. 18, the piano department at MC will host a varied program of popular tunes, all of which allow the students to perform with one another.

Pieces such as the Italian Polka, a trio version of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah, and an original composition from our very own Dr. Ben Williams will surely entertain even the most skeptical listener.

Performers will include Robby Baine, Maleesa Brinkley, Evan Ciarloni, Amy Lauren Jones, Mary Catherine McKibben, Joel Purvis, and Duvy Savant. Also the following Music department faculty will preform as well: Michael Rushing, Ben Williams, Angela Willoughby, and Dottie Serio (the department administrative assistant).

“This won’t just be any old piano recital,” says pianist Maleesa Brinkley. “Since piano is usually a solo instrument, a concert of all duets like this one is a unique experience that you will not want to miss. I’m so excited about collaborating with my friends and creating beautiful music together.”

With the exception of Evan Ciarloni, a pre-med major with a minor in piano, all participants are currently majoring in either keyboard performance or education. Two students, Blaine and McKibben, participate in a newly-established program that offers a dual concentration in both performance and accompanying.

pennies for pianists poster

Tickets cost $5, and the title of the program, “Pennies for Pianists,” refers to the fact that the pianists are hosting this recital in an effort to raise money for thier upcoming trip to Europe this May.

The department has taken three prior trips to Europe to watch international piano competitions; however, this year they will travel to the hometown of a composer, conductor, and pianist Ernst von Dohnányi. There, students will present a tribute concert consisting of his piano works at the church where he served during World War II.

The Hungarian composer is a part of the pedagogical line of Music Department Chair Angela Willoughby, and therefore a “musical ancestor” of many MC piano students as well. A documentary produced by Willoughby and edited by Ryan Capell, Two Friends in Tallahassee: The Story of Ernst von Dohnányi and Edward Kilenyi, will premiere in the Aven auditorium on March 18.

The original composition included in the program, entitled Songs of Loudest Praise, began when Willoughby asked two of her piano students to name their favorite hymn so that Williams could arrange a duet version for them to perform. Both answered with the same two hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and Be Thou My Vision.

This inspired Williams to arrange the tunes into a piece that he describes as, “a sonata-like piece in which the two hymn-tunes feature as contrasting themes that are developed and recombined throughout in order to present a unity of praise in wordless jubilation.”

Two of the pianists at the upcoming performance, Baine and McKibben, premiered this piece on last year’s MC Singers spring tour.

“Pianists spend a lot of time alone playing solo music. This is fun for us because we get to play together, and that’s a rare thing,” Willoughby said.

The performance will take place at 7:30 PM on Feb. 18 in the Aven Fine Arts building recital hall.

– Amy Lauren Jones, A&E Editor

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