Faculty Concert Series in Full Swing

two concert posters for the music series
Posters for the Faculty Concert Series

With the start of the new semester, the Faculty Concert Series at Rhodes is in full swing.  For the professors in the Department of Music, the concert series is a fun and meaningful way for them to live their craft while bringing Rhodes closer to its community.  Dr. Carole Blankenship, voice division coordinator and associate professor of music, explains, “The Faculty Concert Series has been in existence for decades as a means to showcase the musical expertise of the Rhodes Department of Music faculty, who all come to music first as specialists on their instruments.” Dr. Courtenay Harter, an oboe and English horn teacher who also teaches courses in Music Theory and Music Cognition, elaborates, “Most of our performing faculty are adjuncts who have a connection with the Memphis community, and so they bring a nice off-campus audience with them as well.”

The faculty performers are free to create their own set lists, often designing specific performances around a central theme that may be relevant to classes they teach or simply to their lives.  The most recent installment on Jan. 18 featured Sabrina Hu (flute) and Rena Feller (clarinet), who played a diverse concert featuring pieces from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.  Feller and Hu, who both have ties to the Memphis Symphony Orchestra dating back several years, played for a diverse audience that included Rhodes students and faculty as well as other Memphians looking to hear good classical music. With Dr. Cathal Breslin of the University of Memphis accompanying on the piano, the pieces included ensembles written for woodwinds, with the composers featured varying from Camille Saint-Saens to Max Friedman, an 18-year-old up-and-coming classical composer from Memphis and Feller’s son.

Hu and Feller performed a piece that Friedman composed when he was just 16 years old and still a student at White Station High School, called “NICHT SCHLEPPEN!” The song was actually written as a three-piece ensemble for flute, clarinet, and piano, and is a juxtaposition piece in which seemingly modern melodies combat a humorous, klezmer-inspired rhythm that dictates the song’s feel and pulse. Now a composition student at Brown University, Friedman conducted the premiere of his Chamber Symphony for Eight Players in 2016.   

The next show is Sunday, Jan. 29, at 3p.m.  in Hardie Auditorium, and will feature Dr. Harter (oboe), accompanied by Dr. Blankenship (soprano voice), Brian Ray (piano), David Shotsberger (composition and electronics) and Rhodes alumna Michelle Pellay-Walker ’80 (viola).  To find the full schedule for the Faculty Concert Series this semester and other performances from the Department of Music, click here.

By Kenneth Piper ’17