Wednesday, May 20, 2009

what a concert!

Last night I went to the Sheldon, a lovely old building downtown which now houses a concert hall and art gallery, to hear two dear friends and one acquaintance from college play a "Prelude Performance" for the Artist Presentation Society. It was magnificent. Alyssa Santoyo, guitarist, led off with a wonderful group of pieces from a Bach Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, followed by a piece that will always hold her signature for me - Heitor Villa-Lobos' Choros No. 1. This was the fourth time I'd heard her play it, and it still held the magic and delight of the first. She finished up with a duet with her teacher, and though I don't remember the name, I remember it was lovely!

Michael McElvain, pianist, followed; and he held me as spellbound as he always does. He started off with two preludes by Rachmaninoff. The first, in D, was sweet and rich; the second, in B-flat, a fortissimo firestorm. Not to stop with this, he came back with our beloved teacher, Daniel Schene, to play Schubert's four-hand Fantasie in F Minor. I leaned over the edge of the balcony, watching them. They looked like a fine machine - perfectly in unison. I don't know how long the piece was, but I could have watched and listened for hours; so flawlessly calculated was every crescendo, so perfectly matched the tone, that they were one musician, rather than two. Afterward, I slipped backstage with Michael's girlfriend to congratulate them both, and when she commented on their perfect coordination, saying, "It was as if your minds were linked," he said, "Well, there's undoubtedly a connection, somewhere." I said, "Somewhere in the heartstrings of the piano..." and he gave me an approving look and said, "Why, yes, that might be it."

The last section of the concert was jazz. This one was by far the longest, due to the typical improvisations in the four pieces, including one original composition by the guitarist of the group. The featured performer was the drummer, Kevin Neyer, who went all-out on his complicated solos. We sat downstairs for this part, and I was fairly deafened by some of it; but I was certainly impressed by their musicianship. I'm no lover of jazz; but there was no doubt that every musician in the group was excellent and I joined heartily in the applause.

Taken altogether, it was a marvelous night and one I wish I could repeat sometime. As the three performers graduated this year, I doubt I'll get another chance to hear them all at once like this; but I certainly plan to keep listening to them -splendid musicians as well as dear friends.

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