Eric Warner Staff Writer
On Nov. 8 and 9, Eastern’s Music Program, in collaboration with the university’s Theatre and Visual Arts faculty members presented “Hopping Through History,” A Two Piano Multi- Media Concert. The concert featured Assistant Professor David Ballena and Professor of Music Okon Hwang as the two outstanding pianists that bring the audience through a multi-century journey of how music changed up to the twentieth century.
The concert began with a brief introduction by Timothy Cochran, an Associate Professor of Music, who told the audience how music was crafted and presented in the eighteentth century, otherwise known as the Baroque and Classical period, all while dressed up in attire appropriate for that time period. The first song featured in this concert was “Sento in seno” (roughly translated to A Rain of Tears) from Tieteberga and Giustino by Antonio Vivaldi. This song was originally made to make listeners imagine rain as tears for one’s sorrow. The second song featured was First Movement, Sonata in D, KV 448 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart which is a playfully powerful piece that Mozart is so lovingly known for. These provided the basis for the other songs to be compared with the other songs from the nineteenth and twentieth century.
The nineteenth century Romantic period of music was then introduced again by Timothy Cochran who wore attire appropriate for the time period in which the next two songs were made. The first song to represent this time period was “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint- Saens. Now this period of music is known for musicians telling or instructing the audience to picture particular scenes or images to go along with the music. To help present these images to the audience, Lora Lee, an Assistant Professor in Digital Art Design, created beautiful animations to go along these songs. For “The Swan” the piece was originally created after Saint- Saens observed some swans in a park and this piece is reflective of the lifestyle of these creatures. Lee created an illustriously colorful animation depicting swans lives from dusk till dawn featuring interactions with other swans, and baby cygnets until finally ending the piece with showing the amazing creatures flying to places unknown.
The second song to represent the Romantic period was “Erlkonig” (roughly translates to Elf-King) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This piece was actually adapted from a poem created by the same author which depicts a child being attacked by the supernatural Elf-King while riding with his father on horseback back to their home. By the time they reach their home, the Elf-King had attacked the boy and is dead in his father’s arms. This tale is at first presented to the audience in this concert through a live reading by Christian Fronckowiak and Emily Riggs, an Associate Professor of Music alongside terrifying animations by Lee which truly help the viewers become immersed into the dark poem. Once the reading was complete, Ballena and Riggs returned to perform Franz Schubert’s composition of the poem with Ballena playing piano and Riggs singing soprano alongside Lee’s animation of a full moon lighting up a cloudy and bat-filled night sky.
The twentieth century period of music was then introduced again by Timothy Cochran who wore accurate attire for the time period in which the next two songs were made. The first song to represent this century was “Piano Phase” by Steve Reich, which was accompanied by projections by Kristen Morgan, an Associate Professor of Theatre and New Media Studies, which represented the two pianos when each note on both instruments was played. The final song presented in this concert and to represent the 20th century was “Disney Waltzes” Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman, Frank Churchill, and Alan Menken. This song is a sort collection of three individual songs with those being Mary Poppins’ “Chim Chim Cheree”, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ “Some Day My Prince Will Come”, and Beauty and the Beast’s “Gaston”. This music was accompanied by a chorographical performance by students Serena Innaco and Lauthell Labonte.
All of these performances were amazing to watch and listen to and are truly representative of the greatness that can come out of Eastern Connecticut State University.