AQ faculty create a tapestry of melodies



Story by Robin Housekeeper, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Robin Housekeeper

On Jan. 29 AQ music professors Barbara Witham McCargar and Mary Hurd put together a live performance in the AMC. Ranging from Bach and Strauss to Beach and Carter, the performance reflected on a little part of music from the past.

McCargar and Hurd had gotten the idea for a performance from a concert when a guest pianist had come to AQ last April. They had so much fun with the concert and wanted to do it again. McCargar says that it is now a committed goal to do it once again this year. She enjoyed looking over the collection of music that she has been gathering over the years, picking out just a few to share with the community.

Though McCargar and Hurd compiled three groups of songs by different composers, and four solos, the performance took around an hour. By the end, however, it sure didn’t feel like an hour. They had created a flow in the pieces, and had a good audience connection to get people in the mood for listening.

The duo started preparing for this performance a few weeks before winter break, and once we returned they practiced together at least once a week. It was during rehearsal that the real program came out. McCargar stated that the groups she and Hurd compiled (Strauss, Beach, and Carter songs) were placed in a different order throughout rehearsing. In the end, they began with Strauss because McCargar thought it had a beautiful start with the piano.

The way McCargar and Hurd picked out the songs seemed very simple. Hurd picked her two solos by what fit her hands well. It might not make sense to those that don’t play piano, but those that do will understand just fine. McCargar picked out Strauss and Beach because she loves those composers; the cantata was fun and so were the other secular pieces that she wanted to add. They both had already known how to play the songs before the concert.

For McCargar it was just relearning most of the songs. Some were new. Others McCargar had done, just in a different key, like “Rondo: Peter, Go Ring Dem Bells”. They also performed “Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2”; it was one of Strauss’s most famous pieces, motivating McCargar to perform the song as it was written.

My favorite piece of the night was “Send in the Clowns” from “A Little Night Music.” McCargar made this piece so much fun and enjoyable to listen to. She seemed to truly connect to the character through the gestures that she made and her facial expressions. When McCargar and Hurd had a dress rehearsal, they were told by some of the people that “Send in the Clowns” was her best piece. Even though I looked through the program before the performance started and throughout, it took me by surprise when McCargar took the stage and started singing “The Singer” a cappella.

McCargar told me a story about how when the Art and Music Center was firs built in 1995, and how she was the first person to ever perform on the stage in Kretschmer Recital Hall. She even sang “Rondo: Peter Go Ring Dem Bells” from the Cantata; it was just in a different key.  

On April 2, at Fountain Street Church, McCargar will be joining the AQ College Chorus in singing “Elijah.” They invite everyone to come and join them and others to enjoy some unforgettable music.   

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