ECSU Music Department presents chamber music, classical music and jazz in November

Kesha Williams
October 31, 2011

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The month of November will be alive with the sounds of music as the Elizabeth City State University Music Department presents three free concerts.

Talented musicians, under the direction of ECSU faculty, will perform a variety of genres, including chamber music, classical music and jazz. All performances will be held in the Floyd L. Robinson Auditorium at the Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center on campus.

The Brass Quintet and Saxophone Quartet will present an evening of chamber music on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Both ensembles will perform but in alternating musical selections.

Douglas Jackson, an assistant professor of music and their instructor, promises a wonderful evening of music. Five musicians - two playing trumpet, one playing French horn, one on trombone and one on tuba - will play arrangements written for a small ensemble. The challenge for the listener, Jackson says, is to identify the separate part each musician plays while enjoying the music. Their performance will include music from Purcell, Sousa and Pezel.

"The literature is slightly more complicated at this point and requires the students to focus on playing their individual parts. The musician at this level must play in a sufficient manner that displays their advanced skills," Jackson said. "This music doesn't require a conductor so our students will appear on stage alone to display the lessons learned in class and from past experiences."

The Saxophone Quartet will include three students and, Maurice LeFlore, assistant director of bands with the Music Department, who will play the soprano saxophone.

The quartet includes the soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones.  Tune in for the premiere of, "Janus," a big saxophone quartet in three movements written by  Dr. Christopher Palestrant, an associate professor and a composer in the Music Department. Named after the Roman god of doorways, it follows both classical structure of the eighteenth century - but with the lush jazz harmonies of the twentieth.

On Sunday, Nov. 6, the ECSU Albemarle Symphony Orchestra will hold a 4 p.m. concert, featuring Dr. Mary Hellmann, an associate professor of music.

Dr. Janine Parnell, assistant professor of strings and music education, conducts the orchestra, with selections to include Mikhail Glinka's Overture to "Ruslan and Ludmilla" and Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, opus 73.

Dr. Hellmann will be the featured piano soloist in the Beethoven selection, which popularly is known as the "Emperor Concerto." Written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna, this piece was Beethoven's last piano concerto and was dedicated to Archduke Rudolf of Austria, Beethoven's patron and pupil. The first performance of the concerto took place in December 1810 in Leipzig.

"Dr. Hellmann and I had talked many times about her performing with the orchestra," Dr. Parnell said. "We program pieces for solo instruments and orchestra because the students and I are always interested in collaboration with student and faculty members and musicians outside the ECSU family."

Glinka's opera was completed in 1842 and is based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin. The tale describes the abduction of a princess by an evil wizard and the mission of a brave knight, Russlan, to rescue her. The overture is showy and gives the orchestra a chance to shine, Dr. Parnell said.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m., The Collegians Jazz Ensemble, will include some of the same students who performed with the Brass Quintet and the Saxophone Quartet. They will play the same instruments, but will play a different style of music -- Big Band music. This time, their instructor, Douglas Jackson, will take the stage as conductor.

"This usually includes 16 to 18 students with a rhythm section, where the music includes syncopation and it includes improvisation. The musician plays the melody, then a section within the arrangement is reserved for improvisation," Jackson said.

"That, improvisation, is the freedom of jazz music versus the structure of classical music, where the complete arrangement is concisely written for the musicians. Improvisation is based on the chord structure of the music."

This year's Jazz Ensemble concert will feature three, new jazz vocalists, students who also are music majors. He promises the concert will be a fun experience that can be shared with family, friends and neighbors.