School of Music unveils newest ensemble

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The Sam Houston State University School of Music hosted the first full-length performance of the Sam Houston Sinfonietta in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Recital Hall on Tuesday.

The Sinfonietta consists of up to 15 musicians on stage with SHSU instructors accompanying students throughout the production. Many hours were put into this event, starting with rehearsal once a week last semester, three times a week this semester and a two-hour dress rehearsal up until the performance, not adding in the time individually spent outside practicing.

“Preparing for tonight’s event has been a great learning experience,” Daniel Schultz, junior music major and member of the Sinfonietta, said. “Being able to play Bach with many of our faculty as soloists was very humbling.”

Conducting the Sinfonietta was assistant professor and director of orchestral studies Jonathan Pasternack, D.M.A., who gave opening remarks to the audience and brief overview of the three pieces being performed. Works performed included two pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach and one piece by Henryk Górecki.

In his remarks, Pasternack mentioned the juxtaposition of alternating patterns in the three separate pieces’ movements. The program progresses fast-slow-fast in the movements for Bach’s concerto, then transitions to Górecki’s “Three Pieces in Old Style” played in a slow-fast-slow order. To close out the show, Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No.1 would follow in suite with the movements of the first piece.

Beginning with Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, associate professor of violin Javier Pinell, D.M.A., and adjunct instructor Naomi Gjevre, D.M.A., accompanied the students on violins, with assistant professor of musicality Mario Aschauer, Ph.D., on harpsichord.

The piece was played in the baroque style with the aid of the baroque bow. These bows are shorter and shaped different from modern bows, and offer a more “refined sound,” according to Schultz. Another key element to baroque style is the harpsichord, previously announced by Pasternack as integral and driving forces in part of the early repertoire of baroque works.

After a 10 minute intermission, the Sinfonietta resumed with Górecki’s “Three Pieces in Old Style,” switching the tune to a more renaissance style. This piece garnered the applause of the students in attendance.

The last piece of the performance was notably the most iconic. Bach’s KeyBoard Concerto No. 1 in D minor is reminiscent to even the untrained ear, in particular its third movement.

What was thought to be written as a violin concerto is, in fact, written as a harpsichord concerto, as addressed by Pasternack in his introductory remarks. While it is made for the harpsichord, the Sinfonietta had opted to play the piece on the grand piano with associate professor Ilonka Rus-Edery, D.M.A., at the helm. Peter Goddard, who has Rus-Edery as an instructor, said he favored this piece, but stating that the overall performance “was well done” and “on tempo”.

Upcoming events include Sam Houston State University Symphony Orchestra performance on Feb. 28, with a special guest conductor from Bolivia.