Cameron University’s Kirsten Underwood to present free faculty recital

The Cameron University Department of Music will present a faculty recital by Dr. Kirsten Underwood on Saturday, November 7 at 7 p.m. in McCutcheon Recital Hall. Underwood, on cello, will be accompanied by guest artist Dr. Samuel Magrill on piano and soprano Pamela Richman. The program includes the premiere performance of Magrill’s “Fiddle Tunes,” a work for solo cello in four movements. Admission is free.

“I am especially looking forward to performing ‘Fiddle Tunes,’ which was written especially for me by Dr. Magrill,” says Underwood. “Because the composer wrote this piece with the sound of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle in mind, the work is chock full of double stops and quasi-folk melodies. The first movement is a sectional binary form; the second movement is modeled on a waltz, a gigue and a toccata; movement three is an emotional outburst playing with heartbeats, dissonances and pentatonic scales; and the last movement depicts a hoedown with some Balkan folk dance influence.”

The program also includes two pieces with decidedly Hebrew influences.  For “Sacred Suite,” Magrill composed a contrapuntal line to J.S. Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1 in G major.” For this number, Richman and Underwood will perform as a duo.The singer’s line was set to Hebrew liturgical texts, inspired by Gounod’s “Ave Maria,” as Magrill thought that religious texts set contrapuntally to Bach’s cello suite would be an appropriate statement of peace and harmony in the 21st century.

The third work to be presented is “Schelomo – Rhapsodie Hébraïque,” the final work of composer Ernest Bloch’s “Jewish Cycle.”  Inspired by the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, Bloch began to sketch a work for voice and orchestra. He then changed the instrumentation to cello and orchestra. The composer decided that instead of a human voice, limited by a text, he would employ an infinitely grander and more profound voice that could speak all languages – the violoncello.  In this piece for cello and piano, composed in 1915 shortly after the outbreak of World War I,  the cello is the voice of Solomon, proclaiming “vanity of vanities, all is vanity…,” Ecclesiastes 1:2-9, while the orchestra – in this case, Magrill on piano - represents the world surrounding Solomon and his experiences of life. At the same time, the orchestra often seems to reflect Solomon's inward thought while the solo instrument is giving voice to his words.

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November 2, 2015

PR# 15-179