Piano and Composition Student Recital at NOVA Alexandria

Had somebody told me a couple of years ago that I will be standing infront of audience to perform a classical piece like Minuet in C Major by W. A. Mozart, I would have politely laughed with a mix of incredulity and hidden desire. The incredulity would have come from the realization that music is a beautiful language and learning a foreign language, once you are past your teen years, is not trivial. The thing about desires, though, is that if they are genuine and rooted deeply within the heart, they will keep on sprouting like grass within the cracks of broken asphalt — nothing can stop them; they can be twisted, misused but never stopped!

Class Piano Performances

Musit at NOVA AlexandriaToday I had my first piano recital and I am now reflecting with gratitude for both my teacher, the brilliant Prof. Jolie Lin, and all the other performers who together presented a diverse, challenging, beautiful program.

There were four parts to the program:

  • Class piano
  • Applied piano
  • Class composition
  • Applied composition

The music department at the Alexandria campus of NOVA offers a variety of classes for students who are either music majors or those who — like me — just want to take a class and learn to play a musical instrument.

Prof. Lin’s class opened, with yours truly playing first. As the musical pieces grew in complexity, my appreciation for the effort my classmates had put in preparing for the recital grew correspondingly. The highlights for me were the performances by Daniel Rivas-Isakowitz (Courante from French Suite in C minor by J.S. Bach) and Janet Shipko (Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 by S. Rachmaninoff). Their talents were obvious but the significant efforts they had invested in their performances were eloquent illustrations of the inspiring quotes hanging in the hallways of the music department which recently –and very sadly — had been damaged by major flooding:

music-at-nova-alexandria-inspiring-quotes

While I knew what to expect from those with whom I have been attending a weekly class, I was pleasantly surprised by the talents of the other performers, many of whom played original compositions.

 Original compositions performed by talented musicians

DeMarcus Bolds played both a romantic Chopin (Etude Op. 25 No 1 in Ab Major) and a moody, almost sensual Gershwin (Prelude II, Blue Lullaby).

The stunning soprano Cynthia Gossman sang “Dreams” a beautiful composition by Christopher Schillero whose lyrical reference to a broken-winged bird reminded me of this prayer:

O God!  O God!  This is a broken-winged bird and his flight is very slow—assist him so that he may fly toward the apex of prosperity and salvation, wing his way with the utmost joy and happiness throughout the illimitable space, raise his melody in Thy Supreme Name in all the regions, exhilarate the ears with this call, and brighten the eyes by beholding the signs of guidance.

O Lord!  I am single, alone and lowly.  For me there is no support save Thee, no helper except Thee and no sustainer beside Thee.  Confirm me in Thy service, assist me with the cohorts of Thy angels, make me victorious in the promotion of Thy Word and suffer me to speak out Thy wisdom amongst Thy creatures.  Verily, Thou art the helper of the weak and the defender of the little ones, and verily Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty and the Unconstrained.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

She also performed two of her own songs based on poems by T.S. Eliot.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

I was blown away by the flutist Patricia Knockenhauer who played two suites for flute and piano, one of which culminating in a joyous piece by Zack Williams called “Together” in 7/8 — the most Bulgarian of musical time measures.

Lastly, Prof. Kolm directed two trios for piano, violin, and cello performed beautifully by Sean Ganous, Michael Bradshaw and Robert Baird.

The whole recital was a wonderful reminder that quality music education and talented musicians are all around us — we just need to reach out and appreciate them… and occasionally, if we are daring enough, to join them!

2 Responses to “Piano and Composition Student Recital at NOVA Alexandria

  • Jonathan Kolm
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the review, Mitko! You played really well, glad to have you at the music department at NOVA Alexandria!
    Dr. Kolm

  • Great review Dimiter! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas, quotes, and compliments to others. Congratulations on your first recital, and for following your dreams!
    Lisa Eckstein

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