Faculty talent tops spring music lineup

Looking for music that’s easy on the ears and easy on your wallet? This semester the faculty and students from Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Music are looking to fill that need on campus with a series of music concerts that are offering the best selections from classical to contemporary.

The spring concerts make a great option for students, as most are free or at a discounted price with a valid student ID. Andrew Winner, director of guitar ensemble, said that any concert is a great, cheap date.

The spring lineup continues with a faculty recital at 8 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 10, in Greaves Hall.

Musicology professor and orchestra director Frank Restesan described the recital lineup as an exploration of the Romantic period. He said that although the piece titles may seem rigid and unapproachable, the melodies are beautiful and accessible. Restesan said he believes this concert is an opportunity to get a taste of Romantic chamber music, especially for newcomers to the genre.

Restesan will be playing violin, accompanied by Kaestner Robertson on piano. They will play music by classical composers Brahms, Schubert and Elgar. The price is $8 for students with a valid student ID and general admission is $10.

The concert series continues with the Guitar Ensemble at 8 p.m., March 26 in Greaves Hall. Each semester, the pieces are taken from different time periods and geographic locations.

This semester’s show will feature more South American pieces, according to Winner. The seven-member ensemble will also play a piece that was featured as background music in a Zales diamond company commercial. Admission to the Guitar Ensemble Concert is free for everyone.

Scott Lang, lecturer and director of percussion studies, will continue a three-year tradition of featuring a local high school in the Percussion Ensemble concert Apr. 4. Lakota West High School, whose percussion ensemble conductor is an NKU graduate, will perform. Lang said he brings in the high school ensembles not only for recruitment purposes, but also to stay connected with alumni.

“It’s a good thing to do to, you know, keep warm ties with alumni,” he said. “It helps build our program.”

The high school ensemble will play pieces on their own, and then come together with the NKU ensemble for one or two as well.

As for the music, Lang likes to play new tunes every year, so he mixes a variety of genres, styles and difficulty levels when deciding what music to play. This year’s show will feature a piece called “Funk Junk,” where the percussionists play with found objects like cardboard boxes and found objects. It’s a piece similar to the Broadway shows “STOMP!” and “Blue Man Group,” Lang said.

One of the most exciting parts of the show for Lang is the opportunity to play the world premiere of a piece composed by Eric Knechtges, Ph.D., who teaches theory and composition at NKU.

The piece, titled “The Cage Has 5 Bars,” was inspired by the resemblance of the five staff lines of sheet music to a cage. That connection made Knechtges think of how musicians spend most of their lives “as a slave to those five lines.” The piece is also written in an innovative pentagon shape so that no performance is ever the same, according to Lang.

The show will be at 8 p.m. in Greaves Hall Apr. 4. Students get in for $2 with a student ID, and general admission price is $3.

For more information on the department and concerts and a complete concert schedule, visit the NKU Department of Music website at http://www.nku.edu/~music.

Story by Claire Higgins