By Julianna Parker

Transcript Staff Writer

University of Oklahoma faculty performed compositions from around the time Oklahoma became a state in honor of the Centennial Saturday.

About 40 people attended the concert, listening to diverse performances from the Oklahoma Chamber Players, an OU faculty group.

Organist John Schwandt performed in Gothic Hall on the Mildred Boggess Memorial Organ before the Chamber Players began.

He performed Charles Ives' Variations on 'America.' Yes, that's the one that goes, 'From every mountain side, Let freedom ring!" The song is powerful and patriotic, and Schwandt brought the power on the organ.

The piece showed the range of the organ, moving from swirly music that brought to mind dancing monkeys and circuses to deep and resounding. Sometimes all the sounds mixed together to form a climactic movement.

The audience then moved into Sharp Hall for the performances of the Oklahoma Chamber Players, a performance series featuring the collaborative efforts of the OU School of Music's many renowned faculty artists. The musicians played the diverse musical compositions well, creating unique musical experiences with each song.

The first piece was Anton Weburn's Quintet for Piano and Strings, composed in 1907. The performance featured Stephanie Leon Shames on piano, Rossitza Goza on violin, Gregory Lee on violin, Joanna Mendoza on viola and Jonathan Ruck on cello.

The piece was a mixture of long smooth music interrupted by little plucking or whittling sounds that stayed in the background at some points but at other times rushed to the front in an unavoidable contest for the audience's attention.

Maurice Ravel's Chansons Mad?casses was the next piece. Mezzo-soprano Clara O'Brien, pianist Howard Lubin, flutist Andrea Smith and cellist Ruck performed three songs with English translations in the program.

Nahandove was about meeting a lover in the night. The instruments and the vocals didn't always follow the same path, but would sometimes diverge and be discordant.

The second song, Aoua! Aoua!, warned not to trust the white men because they brought destruction to the island people.

When I read the lyrics before the song began, I wondered how such a story of exploitation and pain could be told in a song. After I heard the song, I knew that was how. O'Brien sang with boldness and fury. The music was painful and heart-wrenching in an angry way. It ended softly, though, with a touch of resignation.

The third song, Il est doux de se coucher, was written from the perspective of someone watching women wash and sing and dance near the river. It was gentle and soft.

The final set of the evening was Ralph Vaughan Williams' Quintet in C Minor for Piano and Strings, written in 1903.

This set of three pieces was the most traditional-sounding of the evening. The works were beautiful and harmonious, whereas the other two sets were more impressionistic and dissonant.

The first piece, Allegro con fuoco, sounded like it should have been the soundtrack to Sense and Sensibility (the 1995 film with Emma Thompson), or some other slow-paced, realistic but supremely romantic movie. It was powerful and beautiful.

The second piece was Andante. It was of a similar style, but sadder. It was dramatic, and the story that played in my head along with the song was of a woman being forced to say goodbye to her lover, although still passionately in love with him. In the end, the turbulent emotions were overcome by peace and stillness as she accepted what she must do. That may be melodromatic, but that's what the song felt like to me.

The third piece by Williams was Fantasia (quasi variazioni). This one was happier, delightful almost. It was very pleasant, but with a boldness that almost became wild in its giddiness.

Visit for a full calendar of events and performances at the School of Music.

Julianna Parker


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