Last Friday, the Faculty Artist Recital took place in Felten-Start theater, featuring Benjamin Morris Cline, director of Fort Hays State University’s orchestra and assistant professor of cello and bass.
The other faculty artists that performed were Irena Ravitskya on piano, Ivalah Allen singing soprano and Hilary Shepard on flute. While these instruments aren’t commonly played together, they all blended well with Cline’s cello.
The first piece that was performed was “Le Grand Tango,” composed by Astor Piazzolla. It featured a cello and piano duet.
The song represented a tango with its changing tempos that ranged from rapid to smooth and slow. There was little texture between the two instruments. The most impressive part was that Cline had his cello music completely memorized.
The second piece performed was “Four Songs for Soprano, Cello, and Piano” by Andre Previn that was composed in 1929. The song consisted of four movements; Mercy, Stones, Shelter and The Lacemaker.
Allen’s voice rose above the cello and piano. The song described a woman singing about struggles and how she was no longer going to put up with them. It certainly entertained the audience when Allen rolled up her sleeves and knitted her brows in consternation as she performed in character.
After the intermission, “Vox Balaenae” by George Crumb was performed. The song translates into “Voice of the Whale.”
This piece of music was certainly the most interesting of the night. Several neon lights were set up prior, and the house lights were turned off, engulfing the audience in darkness and illuminating the musicians on stage.
The song included cello, flute and piano. Ravitskya played the piano unconventionally, sometimes plucking the strings within, and the flute was played to represent a humpback whale. It was a relatively calm piece, and Cline played his cello beautifully, making it emit noises that I wasn’t aware cellos could even make. This was probably the crowd’s favorite song of the night.
Overall it was a lovely performance that showed a different side of the string instrument. Cline is extremely talented. You could tell that the faculty has spent much time preparing, and it was well worth it.
The next musical performance put on by the music and theater department will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Beach/Schmidt auditorium, where the Fort Hays band and choir will be performing.