Friday, March 2, 2012
Music School Celebrates 100 Years
Concerts To Be Held in NYC, PittsburghAbout 200 student performers and distinguished alumni spanning six decades will appear in concerts celebrating the School of Music's 100th anniversary.
The concerts, which will be played March 31 at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, and April 2 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, will feature Schumann's "Konzertstück for Four Horns." The four parts will be played by the New York Philharmonic's Howard Wall (BFA '72), San Antonio Opera's principal horn Peter Rubins (BFA '86), CMU faculty member William Caballero (principal horn, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), and Brice Andrus (principal horn, Atlanta Symphony).
Chicago Symphony's principal horn Dale Clevenger (BFA '62) will conduct the piece.
"The Schumann Konzertstück is a difficult and unique piece because it was written at a time when the horn was evolving," Wall said.
"When it was created in 1849, the addition of valves allowed a broader range of notes without having to insert different lengths of tubing depending on the music's key signature.
"With this new capability for the horn, Schumann decided to push the envelope by writing a piece which would explore the possibilities of the new horns. On top of that he decided to write a concert piece for not just one horn but a whole section of four horns. It was pretty rare to write a concerto for four of the same kind of instrument," Wall said.
One thing all of the visiting performers have in common is that they studied at some point with former university horn professor Forrest Standley.
Standley, the principal horn for the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1949-1959, taught at the university for 37 years until his death in 1986.
"Forrest Standley was considered a good teacher, because many of his students got orchestra positions," Wall said. "While not everyone who studied with him got a job in an orchestra, if you did what he said, you would become the best horn player you could be. But it was up to you to follow his instructions. He was soft spoken and not demonstrative.
"He didn't really want you to speak during a lesson unless he asked you a question and he mostly didn't want questions from his students. He figured he was covering and explaining everything you needed to know. This seemed to work out pretty well."
Rubins, a member of the San Antonio Symphony and principal horn with the San Antonio Opera, attended Carnegie Mellon to study with Standley.
"His willpower is something I've never seen since," Rubins said. "You could see that he was dealing with medical issues, but he was still playing up until the time of his passing.... His standards were extremely high, but we knew that if we did the things that he suggested, it would go a little bit easier for us in the workplace."
While not a graduate of CMU, Andrus traveled to Pittsburgh about four times a year to take lessons with Standley after getting into the Atlanta Symphony.
This has been a banner year for horn players at Carnegie Mellon. Clevenger was awarded an Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award and delivered a heartfelt lecture in which he said that art pays dividends for those who participate in it.
"The world wants to see baseball and football more than an opera, but a symphony concert can change lives," he said during his talk.
The Pittsburgh concert also will be broadcast live by Pittsburgh radio station WQED-FM (89.3).
Featured PerformersOther alumni who are coming back for the concert are opera singers Jeffrey Behrens (BFA '03), Liam Bonner (BFA '03), and musical theater performers Graham Fenton (BFA '05), Lisa Vroman (MFA '81) and Christiane Noll (BFA '90).
Fenton stars in "Jersey Boys." Vroman starred in the Broadway production of "The Phantom of the Opera" as Christine Daae. Noll was nominated for a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of Mother in the Kennedy Center Revival of "Ragtime."
Violinist Emma Steele (A '12), the Sibelius International Violin Competition finalist and student of Cyrus Forough, also will play.
Manu Narayan (BFA '96), screen actor/vocalist, will be the master of ceremonies for both concerts.
For more information and to purchase tickets for both performances: http://music.cmu.edu/centennial/. The site also includes information about a patron event in Pittsburgh with pre-concert cocktails, dinner, concert and dessert.
By: Heidi Opdyke