Twin events reveal one reason why the arts in Amarillo are at such a stellar level. On Jan. 25 the WTAMU School of Music staged their Faculty Grand Recital. On Feb. 10 the Amarillo College Department of Music showcased its Honors Students and Faculty Recital.
At WTAMU professional musicians chose among other professionals for performance privileges. What the audience enjoyed was the musical equivalent of a sampler box of Godiva Chocolates. You don’t get enough of any one kind and still want more when the box is empty.
I will mention only three numbers from the program.
Tina Carpenter and Christopher Garcia, with Mila Abbasova accompanying on piano, performed a Michael Campbell work which amounted to dueling bassoons. Did you know those wooden pipes or those playing them can be comedic? Maybe standup bassoonery is in their futures.
Sarah Beckham-Turner, soprano and Robert Caldwell, baritone, again accompanied by Mila Abbasova performed “Ha! Dove sei crudele…..” from Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.” Apropos to the Godiva analogy, these vocals left the audience wanting more.
Finally the internationally-known Harrington String Quartet played the Scherzo from Borodin’s “String Quartet.” Only one movement! That’s like a wonderful appetizer with no main course!
The program at Amarillo College showcases the caliber of the professional staff as well as the quality of student artists at our community college.
The audience was treated to the duet La ci darem la mano from Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Mary Jane Johnson and Eric Barry. Mary Jane is a veteran of the Metropolitan Opera, and new-to-the-faculty Eric is destined for that venue. And did they ever seem to know their stuff.
The full house at the Concert Hall also enjoyed the three movement Hadyn Quartet in D Major with Amy Umlah, flute; Katy Moore, violin; Camille Day Nies, viola; and Russell Steadman, cello.
The real stars were the students, among whom were Andreanna Simpson playing Chopin and Anna Bahn, singing Care Selve from Handel’s Atalanta.
The Vocal Jazz Choir, directed by Dr. Nate Fryml, but singing autonomously, performed an amorphous soundscape by the Swedish composer Petter Karlsson, a challenging work for advanced students, but these freshmen and sophomores sang splendidly!
The program concluded with the AC Jazz Band, under the direction of Dr. Jim Laughlin, whose heterogeneous membership included musicians from both the college and community.
The variety and quality of both performances evinces the incredible baseline of musical talent in the Amarillo area. A reason we enjoy such a rich cultural feast in Cowboy Country is due, in large measure, to the contributions of the music departments at AC and WTAMU.
Our gratitude to Camille Day Nies, Department Chair at AC and Dr. Robert Hansen, Dean of the School of Music at WT for facilitating these valuable offerings to the public.
Our college and university are reasons we can say with swagger: “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!”