Friday, October 17, 2014

Free Pellissippi State Faculty Music Concert wows the crowd

If you've been looking for quality entertainment, local colleges may fit the bill. The free Pellissippi State Music Faculty Concert was held on October 9, 2014 in the theater of the Claxton Performing Arts Building (Hardin Valley Campus).  The concert was a mix of classical music, pop and opera. 

Having been there, I can attest that the performance was excellent. If you want to see what you've been missing, here is the music schedule.

That the concert was required for all music students did nothing to distract from the friendly, upbeat atmosphere. Audience attire ranged from the traditional student uniform of jeans and t-shirts to Sunday go-to-meeting clothes. The music concert was also open to the community with the predictable result of a packed house. 

Selections included both voice and instrumental pieces that encompassed concertos, Appalachian Folk songs, and opera. A crowd-pleasing show tune medley was arranged and played by David Slack. A polyphonic arrangement of the “Sanford and Son” theme song included with melodies, had toes tapping as the instrumental group rocked the concert house. 

For me, the star that shined the brightest at the concert was faculty pianist, Lisa Dunn. Her hands danced across the piano in a stunning display of musical acrobatics. From the lowest range of the piano to the highest, she mesmerized the audience and left us spellbound. The crowning musical piece of the evening was the “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khachaturian. 

The dynamics in this suspenseful piece has a prestissimo tempo that requires two pianists (in this case Ms. Dunn and Ms. Peggy Hinkle) to play as quickly as possible, simultaneously and with both hands. A third person stood closely by to turn pages as the two pianists reached over each other and back again to cover the full range of the piano in a grand display of pitches and virtuosity that enthralled the audience.

When it came to woodwinds, Ms. Joan Whiteside excelled in her flute performance of “Sicilienne” by Maria-Theresia Von Paradis. She was accompanied by the accomplished Ms. Peggy Hinkle. Their music seemed to float on the air. 

Another standout piece was “Shenandoah and Sourwood Mountain” by Jack Jarrett which was firmly rooted in the deep resonating tones of Appalachian Folk Music. 

If the Concerto No. 2, 3rd Movement is art music, then the melody of “Shenandoah and Sourwood Mountain” could be thought of as heart music. The lilting tones tug at the hearts of many in East Tennessee and other parts of Appalachia.

Somewhat similarly, “The Trees on the Mountains” from the opera “Susanah” by Carlisle Floyd, is an operatic piece that also carries the listener to the splendor of mountain peaks.  This was performed by soprano Jami Anderson, who did a more than admirable job. 

The soulful and improvisational tones of Duke Ellington’s “Sound of Love” balanced an evening that also included “Un’aura amorosa” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and “Fantastic Polka”. The concert was an idyllic mix of tunes that carried the listener from the classical age to present day with panache and elegance. 

In the interest of disclosure, I wrote a similar piece about the concert for my music class. Lisa Dunn is my professor. However, this blog post doesn't effect my grade. She does not follow You've Been Reviewed and won't receive the url until after final grades are posted. I share about the concert because it's one of the many cultural opportunities in Knoxville that provides free family entertainment.