By Michael Tsui ’18
Once a year, some of Chaminade’s finest musicians get to showcase their talent at a music recital held in Hearst Auditorium. Students are invited to select a musical piece that highlights their unique abilities. This year’s repertoire included music from a variety of time periods ranging from the Baroque Era and Jazz Age to early twenty-first century.
On Wednesday, May 25, family and friends gathered in the 200-seat auditorium to enjoy an up-close view of the musical performances. The smaller venue, located within Chaminade’s Activity-Athletic Center, gave the recital an intimate feel. The audience was entertained by students playing a diverse group of instruments including piano, flute, clarinet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, guitar and fiddle.
The night opened up with a series of Irish songs, performed by Brian Gallery ’18 on the flute and later Liam Furlong ’18 on the fiddle. One of these pieces was “Drunken Sailor.” This rather famous sea shanty (or Irish work song), was initially sung by Irish sailors back in the nineteenth century, but Liam performed a unique rendition on the fiddle. After the performance, he explained what sets Irish pieces apart from music of other genres and why he enjoys playing them. “What makes Irish music unique is that it has variations that make it different every time you play a tune,” commented Liam. “I like Irish music because of its spontaneity. I could play it one way and hear another player have a different spin on it.”
Instrumentalists were not the only performers at the recital. Accomplished vocalists, Kevin McSorley ’16 and Jude Tochukwu Okonkwo ’17, impressed the crowd with their songs. Kevin was first up with his musical theatre performance of “When Words Fail,” a song from Shrek the Musical. The song itself is infused with humor, and Kevin highlighted this artistically with his animated performance. Later, Tochukwu performed the song “Old Man River,” from the 1927 musical Show Boat. Unlike the light and comical performance that preceded him, he used his deep, rich voice to portray the serious underlying message of the song.
After performing a piece on his own, Samuel Szemerenyi ’16 joined his brother Benjamin ’19 for a piano duet. The familiar tango selection, “Por Una Cabeza,” was written by Carlos Gardel and has appeared in several popular films. The brothers’ performance of this was an audience favorite. The piece itself alternates between contrasting playful and serious sections, and the brothers showed this perfectly with their graceful changes in dynamics.
The recital ended with Jack Lynch ’16’s quality performance of “Rhapsody in Blue.” The song, written for piano, was composed by American George Gershwin, who was famous for combining elements of classical and jazz music. Afterwards, Jack offered advice to pianists planning to tackle this challenging musical composition. “The piece is very diverse in mood, some parts light and jazzy and other parts loud and dramatic, so the playing needs to reflect the emotions the composer wants to express.” This work clocks in at nearly twenty minutes, and it is therefore tough for many pianists to play. “With a song as long as Rhapsody in Blue, you have to learn it in sections. I learned one page with both hands separately before putting it together and moving on to the next,” Jack explained.
At the conclusion of the evening, all eighteen musicians took the stage and were congratulated for their stellar performances. This year’s event was another example of the commitment and hard work of Chaminade’s students, and was a rewarding experience for both the audience and the musicians.