By Jeremy Quintin
Elm Staff Writer
Over the past two weeks, the only tunes that have reached my ears have been Dubstep and Electro-House. A bass addiction is hard to kick, but the stunning experimental sounds and breakbeat rhythms that come packaged with these genres are enough to give anyone a hi-fi. Still, it was nice this past Friday to get a change of pace with the “12@Hotchkiss” faculty recital, the first performance to kick off Gibson’s Noon Hour Concert Series.
The new series was formed over the summer and put together entirely by the music department professors. The idea behind setting the concert series at noon is to offer students a moment of their day in which they can relax by getting away from classes and receive a musical experience, as explained by Professor Grace Eun Hae Kim, one of the head faculty members in charge of the Concert Series. “Music is something that we all need,” she says. And the concert series is designed specifically to make that music available.
“What better way than to begin with the faculty members,” Professor Kim says, and she could not have been more correct. Watching our professors perform some of the most challenging musical numbers in history is not only stunning, it builds admiration for the department itself. Each professor presented, via piano, clarinet, and vocals, wonderful renditions of pieces by Mozart and Brahms. While I am not personally the biggest fan of the clarinet (mainly due to the breathy nature of the instrument), the performance nevertheless exhibited our professors’ clear ability in the musical arts.
One thing which I deeply admire in classically composed music is the level of ingenuity which is involved in the creation of these works. It’s absurd that classical music is considered boring in some circles, when in comparison with what’s popular today, Mozart’s compositions fly across the staff, exhibiting colorful combinations of notes, dual melody lines, and in general a far more lively assortment than plenty of our modern songs. If you don’t believe how hardcore classical music can be, imagine a mad drum riff over top of it, and everything will become clear.
Another great aspect to the concert series was the amount of information which attendees were provided with. One of Professor Kim’s initial concerns about the concert series was that students who were interested in getting involved with classical music would view the atmosphere of the event as catering to a certain crowd. In order to combat this image, one thing the “12@Hotchkiss” performance did was provide an easy to read packet of information on the given performances, explaining aspects about each piece. For example, the foreign or antiquated languages in some classical works is somewhat inaccesible to students, potentially making them feel like outsiders. For Brahms’ piece with German lyrics, the packet not only provided the lyrics but translated them into English as well. Having that information made the performance all the more enjoyable and welcoming as a spectator.
Professor Kim also points out that, when all is said and done, you don’t need to be educated in music theory to appreciate music. This is perhaps the most important take home lesson here. What matters for the listener is not their knowledge of the musical elements (what Adagio or Vivace means), but their enjoyment of the music itself, because the final product of music is something that is heard.
The concert series will last throughout the semester, and upcoming performances varying from Latin American ensembles to contemporary works can be found on the Washington College webpage.