Faculty to kick off series with cello and guitar

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The sounds of opera, rock, classical and fairy tales will grace the School of Music stage as assistant professor of cello Daniel Saenz performs in a faculty recital Wednesday.

Saenz will present several pieces of different genres in his first recital of the school year. He says the recital is a great opportunity for listeners to experience an unconventional selection of pieces.

“I would hope that people would come who have never heard a cello recital or classical music,” he said. “They hear this music that’s very different, this is not what they would think Beethoven or Mozart would sound like. It’s sort of like a gateway into understanding a little more about classical music.”

Mixing classical style with modern melody and instrumentation, Saenz’s recital will blend sounds from several genres and sets it apart from a standard cello recital.

“A typical recital would open up with something Baroque, like by Bach or Handel or something that’s a little classical sounding like Mozart, and then it moves on to something that’s more romantic,” he said.  “The second half, you would have a larger piece sitting on its own, like a sonata by Prokofiev. Typically, people don’t venture out into the twentieth-century or even to contemporary music as much.”

Saenz will perform with visiting musicians from Texas A&M University and the Divergence Vocal Theater.

Saenz’s selections will start with a solo piece filled with harmonics and notes fingered in non-traditional ways.  He will then have a duo with the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute.

Saenz will perform a larger work titled “Ravens and Radishes” that is scored for soprano vocals, electric guitar and cello.

Misha Penton, soprano vocalist and Divergence Vocal Theater director, and the piece’s composer, George Heathco, will join Saenz to perform the enchanting and mystical composition.

“[Misha Penton] wrote the lyrics based on fairy tales like ‘Red Riding Hood,’ ‘The Snow Queen,’ and ‘The Firebird,’ and she rewrote those in what I suppose you could call a modern retelling of them,” he said.

Although Heathco is a classical composer, Saenz said he plays electric guitar and composes to that instrument using familiar sounds, such as riffs and power chords.

“It’s quite an unusual combination, with electric guitar, cello and soprano,” he said. “There are a lot of snippets of music that people would recognize from pop music, metal or rock guitar.”

Saenz was part of the ensemble at “Ravens and Radishes” premier in April and has recorded the work with the group over the past year.

The recital will be held Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.  Admission is free.

For more information, contact the School of Music at 936-294-1360.