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The program of my first senior concert formed almost accidentally, yet a common and important thread quickly emerged. Few, if any, of the names or the pieces on the program have entered into the canon of classical music. With compositions by Missy Mazzoli, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Lili Boulanger, I was able to introduce an audience to people who are not the status quo dead cishet (cisgender, heterosexual) white male composer.
The performance of the music of such artists was inspired by an urgency that I felt since arriving at Bard, and that became an international necessity during the 2020 covid lockdown. This has been reflected in many aspects of my academic and musical life at Bard, from taking a course on gender and sexuality in Italian opera, to helping to form a concert of Baroque music by women composers.
While the impulses behind this concert may seem progressive, from the moment I had any ideas about a potential music senior project, I really wanted one of my performances to be a standard, conservative violin recital, wearing fancy clothes and performing with an accompanist. I achieved that, and was quite proud of how it went. Especially after performances, I tend to be displeased with how I sounded and fixate on the negative aspects of my playing. Luckily, this performance was one of very few that I felt really happy with, perhaps due to a large, supportive audience, or because of the interesting and unique repertoire on the program.
For my second senior concert, I wanted to find a way to combine all aspects of my undergraduate music studies; specifically, violin performance, conducting, Baroque performance, and the necessity to showcase works by such composers.
Working with James Bagwell, I learned Dvorak’s Wind Serenade, Op. 44, and working with Erica Kiesewetter, Renée Louprette, and Marka Gustavsson, I prepared J.S. Bach’s E Major Violin Concerto, BWV 1042. Both of these pieces, however, utilized completely separate musical forces—one solely strings, and one solely winds, plus a cello and a bass—so I wanted to find a piece that somehow combined all the moving parts. We were privileged to premiere Reef (Bird’s Eye) by Sasha Paris-Carter, who currently studies composition at Oberlin Conservatory. They graciously arranged and rewrote the piece for the forces that I had, and added a solo violin part that I could lead the orchestra from.
Through three intense months of outreach, I was able to recruit seventeen really wonderful musicians to perform with me. Every corner of the College was represented, from Conservatory students, to fellow music seniors, to community members, to graduate students. This concert would not have been successful without their generous time and musicianship, and I am very grateful to all of them. Logistically, this was a huge concert to accomplish, especially in terms of recruitment, and scheduling rehearsals and spaces. I was also out for a few days with covid the week before the concert. However, I think it was very successful, and I look forward to organizing and forming more orchestras to work with in the future.
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Bánóczi-Ruof, Dávid M., "Two Evenings of Performance - Hearing the Unheard: Music by Mazzoli, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Coleridge-Taylor, and Lili Boulanger; Joys of Spring: Music by Paris-Carter, Bach, and Dvorak" (2022). Senior Projects Spring 2022. 304.
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