The Binghamton University music department held the first concert of its Mid-Day Concert Series yesterday, a weekly installment of classical music performances, which attracted about 70 students, faculty members and local community members to the Fine Arts Building’s Casadesus Recital Hall.
Music students and faculty performed a range of music from works of Chopin to traditional Tibetan folk songs for one hour to kick off the semester-long concert series.
The Mid-Day Concert Series is a decades-old tradition at BU, according to Marcus Lalli, administrative assistant to the chair of the music department. The concerts are organized by a different music department faculty member each week and are put on for free between 1:20 and 2:20 p.m. every Thursday afternoon.
“The series is for us to give back a little to the community, to showcase our faculty and particularly our students,” Lalli said. “But it’s also a great way for students to prepare pieces and test out works before a larger concert.”
The music performed at the mid-day concerts is classical for the most part, but each organizing faculty member brings a slightly different approach to each week’s performance, according to Lalli.
“We play everything from Baroque stuff all the way through the 20th century to avante-garde as well as one jazz mid-day each semester and one African music mid-day,” Lalli said. “If any [organizer] is a little biased and wants to go in a certain direction, they can, or they can choose a plethora of different styles.”
As part of the Mid-Day Concert Series, the music department also puts on a special holiday mid-day concert at the end of the fall semester and a student recognition concert at the end of the spring semester during which food is provided and awards are given to the student performers.
The concert series opens each semester with a show dedicated primarily to showcasing the music department’s faculty. Only two students performed in yesterday’s concert.
Timothy Perry, the music department chair and one of the performers in yesterday’s show, said the rest of the shows this semester will feature the students, with faculty generally acting only as backing accompaniment.
Yesterday’s concert consisted of a wide range of classical performances from recognizable pieces by Chopin, Schumann and Mendelssohn to traditional Tibetan folk songs and jazz music. Each of the 11 pieces played were performed by two musicians, a vocalist or wind instrument with piano accompaniment. The first piece, Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F minor, featured two pianos.
According to Matt Gukowsky, a junior majoring in music and a page turner at yesterday’s concert, the performances are geared toward creating an enjoyable experience for music lovers.
“First and foremost, this is a great venue for students to experience music,” Gukowsky said. “The performers put a lot of effort in. They practice incredibly hard and they study the material on an intellectual level. It’s great to experience that level of skill. And of course it’s nice to hear it live.”
Fred Booth, a local Binghamton resident who attended the event, is a regular attendee of the Mid-Day Concert Series. Booth said he was looking forward to the series beginning.
“I plan to come to every one this year,” Booth said. “They’re really enjoyable and [the performers] are so talented. In the community, all you ever hear is rock and popular music, so it’s very relaxing to come in mid-day and listen to classical music.”
John Duncan, another Binghamton resident who frequently attends the concert, said he cherished the musicians’ talent.
“[The performances] are excellent, I am really pleased that they’re starting again,” Duncan said. “The opera presentations are always really nice and I particularly enjoy the piano.”
Meaghan Bucca, a sophomore majoring in chemistry who was attending her first Mid-Day concert, was also impressed by the performance.
“I really liked it, particularly the piano and the cello,” Bucca said. “I have no idea how [the pianist] could memorize all that. I’ll probably come back.”
William Marsiglia, a junior double-majoring in biochemistry and music who performed Launy Gröndahl’s Concerto for Trombone, said he feels a personal connection to the pieces he plays.
“The song I performed, it means something to me,” Marsiglia said. “Whenever I play it, I feel something that I can’t really explain. I guess that’s really why anyone enjoys performing music, it conveys different emotions to different people. It’s so much fun to share music with an audience.”
Kerianna Krebushevski, a sophomore majoring in vocal performance, said a musician could learn a lot just by watching the various performances.
“Seeing what others are doing while they perform, how they act and present themselves, is a great resource for learning how to perform yourself,” Krebushevski said.