Though the title of the program sounded like a religious revival, a celebration of sound was more apt. For this event exulted in Northern Recital Hall’s upgrade to become the world’s leading variable acoustical space.
In fact, Dean Robert Hanson introduced the new hall as the star of the show and hoped the audience enjoyed its performance. Almost on cue, panels of speakers and sensors aligning the walls whirred and adjusted, Star Wars like, to the first number, and continued that process each time a new group of artists came on stage.
And the result was heavenly! Perhaps the association with the spiritual isn’t that far off.
A few of the eight performances, each chosen to highlight the new sound, are mentioned here.
The Drumline of the Buffalo Marching Band got everyone’s attention in providing a pure percussive soundscape, which utilized all types of struck-sound with each one distinctly heard.
The University Chorale performed works by Brahms, Hagenberg and Brown. The piece that most fully actualized the partnership between the new technology and the performers was Hallelujah by William David Brown.
This choral song is dramatic with a strong, assertive male opening, then joined by the ladies to become sustained variegations of the word “hallelujah.” This was another attention getter, with the hall only accentuating the incredible vocal meld and pulsing dynamics.
MaryAnn Kyle, mezzo from Mobile, sang Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen with Mila Abbasova accompanying. Ms. Kyle sang the serial seductress to perfection, sashaying into the audience to bewitch and beguile a captive male audience. The hall could well face indictment as an accomplice for Carmen’s crimes of the heart.
Wagner resists clarity, but the hall enabled Sarah Beckham-Turner and Matthew Oglesby to sing a Brunnhilde/Siegfried duet from Gotterdamerung with complete intelligibility. We can’t wait to hear Lady Sarah and her Opera Cowgirl cohorts perform The Ride of the Valkyries on this stage.
Choong-ha Nam and Denise Parr-Scanlin performed the digitally-complex, as in fingerings, four-handed version of two Brahms Hungarian Dances. The hall enabled the artistry of these puissant pianists to coalesce with the full potential of the Steinway sufficient for the audience to hope for a return engagement. Soon!
Dr. Mark Barley and the WTAMU Symphony Orchestra played two significant works, the first being Solemn March for Tsar Alaexander III’s Coronation, by Tchaikovsky.
This piece, performed at the dedication of Carnegie Hall, is noble, brassy and majestic, which, like the 1812 Overture, concludes with the Russian National Hymn.
The second was an orchestral premier, entitled Pathway to Polaris composed by B. J. Brooks. The theme of the composition, according to Dr. Bartley, is a version of Ein Heldenleben, which, in this case, is a student’s journey in becoming greater than oneself in reaching for the stars.
Both of these works, as amplified and tweaked by the hall, enfolded the audience in aural ecstasy.
No one involved with Northern Recital Hall can envision its impact on both artists and the arts. Gratitude that goes beyond mere words is extended to the university’s and School of Music’s administration for the vision of allowing alum Jay Perdue and Perdue Acoustics the opportunity to create the most acoustically advanced auditorium in the world!
With this feature, it ain’t braggin’ to say, “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!”