Academy midshipmen show talent in classical concert


January 26, 2007|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,Special to The Sun

Anyone expecting to hear music below the prestigious conservatory level got a pleasant surprise Sunday at the Midshipmen Classical Concert at the Naval Academy.

The young men and women performing in the academy's Main Chapel delivered genuine musical talent and heartfelt passion.

The program covered a wide musical range from the 17th century to the 20th, with Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin among the composers represented.

At intermission, my neighbor, academy math professor Sonia Garcia, said that one former and two current students were performing. One of her students, violinist Victor Szeligowski, bought a ticket for her.

"It's delightful to see good students with exceptional abilities to touch my heart," Garcia said.

Monte Maxwell, music department chairman, also praised the musicians at intermission, noting that despite carrying a full load of academic and extra responsibilities, they had the dedication and ability to find time for musical endeavors.

The audience was treated to fine performances, including Vivaldi's "Summer" from Four Seasons and a full 50-musician symphony orchestra to end the concert with a superb "Jupiter" segment from Gustav Holst's Symphony of the Planets.

Violinists Michael Titzer and William Jenkins with Phil Crawford on cello and Jake Robie on viola opened the program with a proficiently and expressively played Beethoven quartet.

An exciting Scherzo-Tarantella Opus 16 by Henri Wieniawski received impassioned treatment from violinist Matt Vegel and pianist Megan Green before Crawford returned with pianist C.J.T. Morgan for a Beethoven Sonata for Piano and Violoncello.

Pianist Steve Colley offered a sensitive version of Chopin's familiar Waltz Op. 64 that captured lovely romanticism.

The concert came alive with 20th-century American composer William Kroll's signature virtuoso work "Banjo and Fiddle." It was given expression in a rhythmic performance by violinist Grant Strickland and pianist Brian Williams that included a joyous rendition of the work's central melody.

Offering an interesting change of pace were Andrew Faulkner on saxophone and Rebekah Cranor on piano in an aria by another 20th-century composer, Eugene Bozza, that featured a soulful melody.

Bach's Partita No. 3 in E Major was played with virtuosity by violinist Jenkins.

Other highlights were two works by Mozart.

Quintet in A for Clarinet offered excellent ensemble playing by Joshua Bosworth on clarinet, Travis Albright on bassoon, flutists Reid Smythe and Lauren Wolfe and Stephanie Stamm on French horn.

Mozart was also represented in the charming Andante in C Major played by Mariel Pletcher on flute and Evan Seyfried, where Pletcher offered a tour de force performance.

After intermission, the audience was treated to pianist Matthew Davidson's passionate rendition of Rachmaninoff's Moment Musical.

In a concert of many highs, one highlight came in Vivaldi's "Summer," which featured the Midshipmen Chamber Orchestra directed by Jenkins with soloists Titzer on violin and Crawford on cello.

In a dramatic ending, the 50-piece Midshipmen Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maxwell produced a lush full sound on "Jupiter" to create a melody filled with palpable joy and the natural ebullience of youth.

Together, these musicians convinced me that they could indeed soar to Jupiter on the wings of their talent.

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