Upbeat music energizes ULV audience

Jonathan Rothe and wife Cindie Rothe warm up for PianoFest, another installation in the Steinway Piano Celebration series, held in Founders Auditorium. Together with Steven Biondo on the djembé, an african drum, and Brian Bettger on piccolo trumpet, they performed "In My Life," a Beatles song. The evening was, coincidentally, also the couple's wedding anniversary. / photo by Tom Galaraga
Jonathan Rothe and wife Cindie Rothe warm up for PianoFest, another installation in the Steinway Piano Celebration series, held in Founders Auditorium. Together with Steven Biondo on the djembé, an african drum, and Brian Bettger on piccolo trumpet, they performed “In My Life,” a Beatles song. The evening was, coincidentally, also the couple’s wedding anniversary. / photo by Tom Galaraga

by Tamika Harrison
Staff Writer

Musical performances by the University of La Verne music faculty and student Chorale filled the air Friday evening in Founders Auditorium. From classical piano, to jazz, to popular music, the Steinway celebration faculty concert offered something for everyone.

Students, faculty and community members attended the final concert in the PianoFest series, which celebrated the acquisition of the Steinway concert grand piano.

Kathleen Lamkin and Anita Hanawalt started the hour and a half long concert with a duet on the piano. The two performers played side-by-side without missing a note.

The performances that followed ranged from piano solos to songs using combinations of piano, violin, bass, percussion and even opera. The highly talented performers dazzled the audience with their musical abilities.

Professor of Music Reed Gratz showed off his quick-playing talent with his “View From the South.” Gratz, who composed the song, was joined by Brian Wichert on bass and Steven Biondo playing percussion.

Karen Clark followed Gratz on the piano while Rachel Vetter Huang played violin. The two performed Mozart’s “Sonata in C Major, K. 296.”

During the middle of the concert, Jonathan Rothe performed what he described as “something different.” His first song, “Kyrie,” featured Rothe playing piano and Biondo playing an African drum called a djembé. Rothe’s second song, “In My Life,” was sung by Rothe’s wife, Cindie, and featured Brian Bettger playing trumpet.

ULV alumni Gloria Ramirez enjoyed the added variety of the two songs and could tell the faculty “enjoyed it and had fun up there.”

Following Rothe was Gayle Serdan on piano, Chris Berry on bass and Biondo playing percussion. The trio performed a jazz song, “Poinciana.”

Hae Kyung Rhee sang a soprano piece from the opera, “I Puritani,” while Scott Farthing played piano.

Timothy Durkovic delighted the audience with his solo performance on the piano. The piece by Chopin started off dramatic, then softened and slowed down and eventually ended more upbeat.

The ULV Chorale closed out the concert with three songs. Their final song, “Jabberwocky,” was full of energy and left audience members amused and entertained.

“It’s a little different than the typical songs you hear at a concert. It was a nice break from the classical evening,” said Chorale member, Shane Haldeman.

All of the faculty who performed are accomplished musicians and many of them have played with impressive groups in interesting locations.

Some achievements among them include performing as a choral accompanist at Carnegie Hall, playing violin with the Boston Pops and teaching in the Netherlands as the Walt Whitman Distinguished Chair of American Culture Studies. Some have even received Fulbright lectureships, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Many of the faculty have performed internationally in various places such as Hungary, Austria, Italy, Guatemala and Asia.

Lamkin said faculty members often perform at concerts, but what made this concert unique was the large number of faculty participating. Not all of the members of the music department are involved with performing, Lamkin said, so it is fun for them to get the opportunity to perform without having to give a full concert.

Lamkin said the piano has added a “new boost” to the Music Department. She added that because of it, the music department has hosted a huge concert series that has been very well attended. The series has featured outstanding musicians and groups such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and top pianists.

“It’s been a very, very exciting year,” Lamkin said.

ULV acquired the Steinway concert grand piano in September just in time for the first concert of the year. Gratz and Durkovic went to New York to pick out the piano and sent it across the country to ULV. The university had a Steinway piano before, but it was very old and needed to be replaced. Steinway pianos are used in most major concert halls and it was definitely worth getting, Lamkin said.

“It’s like the Mercedes or Lexus of pianos,” she added.

The Steinway piano was not the only new addition the Music Department has to show off. After the concert, they hosted a reception to showcase their new music office, library and listening center. The library includes computer stations and musical resources such as CDs, tapes, DVDs and reference books. The new area is located in Founders Hall room 16, which is the former CAPA office.

The Music Department has five more concerts before the end of the semester. The next concert will be a student recital at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, in Founders Auditorium. For more information, contact the Music Department office at extension 4921.

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