Ruth Gowitzke Staff Writer
On April 6, there was a Friday Faculty series event titled: “Maslanka: This is the World.” This piece was composed by David Maslanka and is based on Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting, “Nighthawks.” This performance was held in the Proscenium theatre and showcased the talented faculty and students of our school.
The faculty members who performed were Okon Hwang on the piano, Eric Ouelette on the piano, Matt Bronson playing percussion and Jeff Calissi also on percussion. This piece included five movements that each had their own resonant quality. The first movement was, respectively, called “Nighthawks.” The movement was very slow and harmonious, but did not fail to surprise me when the tempo or the melody would change. The second movement was called “Do You Know My Name?” The overall sound of this movement was much sweeter than the first, but still implemented the slow easy tempo. The third movement was titled, “Out of the Blue.” This movement had a little more of a mysterious sound to it and there were moments where the melody started to pick up quite a lot. It was amazing to see how the performers could play what seemed to be vastly different parts and still be able to come together when it was time.
The fourth movement was titled “The Closer You Get, the Stranger the Stars Look.” This movement was my favorite out of the five because it had a mysterious quality to it like the third movement, but there were also very intense moments where Hwang or Ouelette would be pounding on the keys with fierce virtuosity.
The fifth and final movement was called, “Let it Be.” This movement surprised me the most out of the five because it was very loud and quick, compared to the slow and soft sounds that came from the previous sets. I was amazed that the performers were able to go to each piece one after the other with only a quick break for turning the pages. This showed me the level of time and commitment that these faculty members must have put into making this performance the best it could be.
Another great aspect of this performance was the visuals. The Proscenium theatre had a screen in front of the players and would show the titles of the movements and different images that would correspond with the music. Some of the illustrations were paintings of the thirteen people who helped produce the visual effects for the performers. The faculty technical directors were Tao Chen, Gail Gelburd, Denise Matthews, and Kristen Morgan. There was also sound reinforcement which was led by Travis Houldcroft. The lighting was done by Jen Rock and the motion graphics were done by Carlos Huaman Dioses, London Jones, and Ashley Shumbo. The visuals were done by Ciara Tennis, the videography by Katherine Pugliese, and the photography done by Katiana Mendez. There were also projections, which were done by Daniel Chevalier.
Another prominent visual effect was swirling dots that would be in a distinct color for each movement. This was my favorite effect because it would match with the way the music sounded, whether it was soft or loud. When the music became louder throughout the movements, the colors would change from a soft blue to a fiery orange. My favorite part of the performance, however, was when I could see the performers playing their instruments. I could see Hwang and Ouelette skillfully striking each white and black key as Bronson and Calissi struck the mallets against the vibraphone. It made the performance more impactful because I could see the level of skill that it took to play these sounds and how precise each of them had to be to perform each movement. The overall performance shined a light on the dedication and skill that we have here at Eastern.
“When the music became louder throughout the movements, the colors would change from a soft blue to a fiery orange.”