First Salon Series Concert: A Review

The first Salon Series concert of the semester was held Jan. 23 despite below-freezing temperatures.

Many students and community members gathered to hear performances by Robert Tudor, Bobb Robinson, William Feasley and Deborah Hollis.

The concert featured an eclectic mix of pieces performed in a variety of languages including Italian, English and Spanish.

Robert Tudor, the director of vocal activities and chair of the department of music at Shepherd, opened the concert with several pieces composed by Claudio Monteverdi and Bellerofonte Castaldi. A major theme of these passionate songs was the pain and struggle of unrequited love.

Tudor’s performance exemplified the passion of these pieces beautifully. He was accompanied by the highly awarded guitarist William Feasley on the theorbo. This unique stringed instrument added an interesting layer to the songs and greatly contributed to their overall passionate tone.

The next group of songs provided a significant shift in both subject matter and tone. Bobb Robinson, a faculty member of Shepherd University, selected and performed five songs by American composers that he felt reflected the natural beauty and history of his home Sharpsburg, Md.

As homage to the town’s violent Civil War history, Robinson chose several pieces that illustrated the different emotional responses that come with the tragedy of war. A highlight of this section was the song “I Hear An Army,” composed by Samuel Barber. Although brief, the driving power of this piece captured the intensity of an impending battle.

Essential to the driving force of this song was the accompanying pianist Deborah Hollis. Currently serving as a collaborative pianist and coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hollis greatly added to the song’s unrelenting intensity.

Tudor and Feasely took the stage again, this time performing selections from Carlos Guastavino’s “Canciones Populares Argentinas.” These pieces, known as gaucho or cowboy poetry, described both a sense of separation from other people and a deep connection with the land. Tudor’s outstanding vocal performance and Feasely’s impressive guitar skills blended together beautifully, leaving the audience with a resonating sense of melancholy.

Tudor and Robinson joined together for the final portion of the concert with accompaniment by Hollis on the piano. The seven-part cycle utilized two male voices to sing the poetry of A.E. Housaman and Vachel Lindsay. It simultaneously told the story of the industrialization of society and an intimate relationship between two friends. After rejecting the romantic feelings of his friend, one of the men left his town and everything behind. He returned much later to make amends, only to find everything had changed.

This performance of Jack Heggie’s song cycle “Here and Gone” was an excellent way to end the concert and bring together both vocal performers. Both Tudor and Robinson beautifully sang this emotional song cycle.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the entire concert, but especially the final selections, was the performers’ ability to blend all of the musical voices together.

Shepherd student Mary Granofsky described the performance as a “conversation between all of the musicians.” Throughout each selection, the instruments and vocalists continued to build off each other in a way that came together wonderfully.

The next Salon Series concert will be Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. in the Frank Arts Center.

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