Students at Hillsdale College are always performing in the classroom and on the stage. However, sometimes the professors get a chance to showcase their talents too.
On Sunday, Sept. 22, the Hillsdale College Faculty Quintet met for a recital in the Conrad Recital Hall. The quintet, comprised of Jaimie Wagner on flute, Liz Spector Callahan on the oboe, Andrew Sprung on the clarinet, Cynthia Duda on the bassoon, and Alan Taplin on the horn, played a variety of pieces from mostly female composers. A piece by Cambini was the only male composer represented. The periods of the pieces ranged from the mid 1700s to the late 1900s.
An interesting mix of modern and classical gave the program depth. When asked about the repertoire, Andrew Sprung had some insight.
“It comes down to putting together a balanced program,” Sprung said. “If you have pieces that are all the same style, it gets a little tiresome for the audience. We had the short, fun, happy piece at the beginning. Then we moved to the ‘Autumn Music’ which is much deeper, much more involved, with overlapping lines. Then the last piece was more early-20th-century style, French style. Stylistically, this comes together.”
Alan Taplin also commented on the pieces and composers that were chosen.
“We had a unifying theme of women composers, which is not an end-all. You don’t want to be picking pieces just because women wrote them or just because men wrote them. They’re all good pieces and we would have chosen them anyway,” Taplin said.
Taplin highlighted the fact that three of the five composers performed are contemporary.
“It’s important to hear things going on now, not just the old masters like Cambini. Women composers don’t get enough exposure. That’s important. Any composer that doesn’t get enough exposure is important to highlight,” Taplin said.
Sprung, Taplin, and Callahan agreed that “Autumn Music” by Jennifer Higdon was the most challenging piece to play.
“I can’t really separate me the performer from me the listener. From a performer’s standpoint the most challenging and rewarding would be the Higdon,” Sprung said.
Taplin agreed, saying it was very hard to not play together during that piece.
“The piece is supposed to imitate random leaves falling, and not falling together,” Taplin said. “It takes a lot of concentration.”
Junior Michael Erickson, who takes lessons with Duda, said he enjoyed the concert.
“I really liked that they played music that wasn’t as typical,” Erickson said. The ‘Autumn Music’ was really cool because some of us are going to go see the Amani Winds play it in concert. I really liked that they found Hedwigge Chretien from France in the 1800s because women throughout history have been writing music, not just now.”
Freshman Tatiana Bunge was inspired by the concert too.
“It was cool to see so many people sharing their passion of music and to see them enjoy what they were doing,” Bunge said. “I enjoyed taking the time to stop what I was doing to simply sit and listen. As a music student, I was able to expand my knowledge on the different types of music, and they performed from many different periods of music.”
Callahan expressed her gratitude for the “wonderful dynamic” of the group.
“They are super supportive and very easy to work with,” she said.
The Quintet will meet again this semester for another concert in November, also featuring a majority of female composers Sprung said.