FHSU music faculty “amaze” audience with showcase concert

BY CAITLIN LEIKER
Photos were taken at pre-show rehearsal

FHSU’s music faculty performed in a showcase recital at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on Friday evening.

The program featured the recognizable structure of the Classical and Romantic eras alongside modern-day works with a more enigmatic texture. For example, “Geamannan Aotrom,” composed by FHSU professor Timothy Rolls, was written for cello and electronics.

As Music Department Chair Benjamin Cline played Rolls’ piece, the sound waves were fed through electronic filters that were being controlled by Rolls onstage. The effects were meant to paint a sonic representation of the northern lights – a phenomenon that takes place within Earth’s magnetic field.

Many members of the audience were pleased to see the music faculty working together in a recital setting, especially FHSU’s music students, who were especially impacted.

“It was actually the best performance I’ve seen in Beach/Schmidt,” piano student Isaac Reed said. “The soloists were absolutely amazing and I feel blessed as a student to have them as my instructors.”

Irena Ravitskaya performing her piano solo, in particular, left Reed “awestruck.” 

“I haven’t heard something like that in person, ever,” Reed said.

Sydney Myers saw the showcase as a glimpse into the future of studying music seriously.

“Everyone was really amazing,” Myers said. “It was nice to see our teachers perform – it’s like, ‘Wow, I could play that too, eventually.’”

The showcase was received just as well by more than just FHSU music students. Although Taylor Miller said he wasn’t a regular recital attendee, the part of the concert that stuck out to him the most was “Valse des fleurs” from The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilylich Tchaikovsky at the end of the program.

“I did the Nutcracker play when I was younger, so it just brought back memories,” Miller said. “Everyone did great.”

Composition student Adriana Hernandez said that excelling in music professionally takes a lot of patience, dedication, and passion – qualities that she thought were featured in the showcase.

“It reminded me why I wanted to take this path,” Hernandez said. “I can create an environment and build an emotion to bring life to something. You know when you’re listening to a song and you imagine a story? Music provokes your imagination.”

PERFORMERS + PIECES

Under Western Skies
II. Sunup-High Noon
Kevin McKee
(b.1980)

⁃ Brad Dawson, trumpet
⁃ Renetta Dawson, horn
⁃ Tom Meagher, piano

Geamannan Aotrom
Timothy Rolls
(b. 1976)
⁃ Benjamin Cline, cello
⁃ Timothy Rolls, electronics”

Nuit d’Etoiles”
Claude Debussy
(1862-1918)
⁃ Ivalah Allen, soprano
⁃ Pam McGowne, piano

Sonata No. 2 in A minor, Op. 60 for Violin and Piano
IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Ignaz Brüll
(1846-1907)
⁃ Brian Buckstead, violin
⁃ Irena Ravitskaya, piano

Introduction, Theme, and Variations
Gioachino Rossini
(1792-1868)
⁃ Kristin Pisano, clarinet
⁃ Pam McGowne, piano

Fantaisie-Impromptu in C# minor,
Op. posth 66
Frédéric Chopin
(1846-1907)
⁃ Irena Ravitskaya, piano

Mariel
Osvaldo Golijov
(b. 1960)
⁃ Benjamin Cline, cello
⁃ Ryan Pearson, marimba

Libertango
Eric Sammut
(b. 1968)
⁃ Ryan Pearson, marimba

“Valse des fleurs”
from The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a
Pyotr Ilylich Tchaikovsky
(1840-1893)
⁃ Irena Ravitskaya, piano
⁃ Pam McGowne, piano

BIOS

Dr. Ryan Pearson (b. 1994) is a percussionist, performer, and educator. He performs and teaches regularly throughout the Lawrence, Kansas City, and Hays area as a chamber musician, orchestra member, and soloist. Ryan is currently the Wrofessor of Percussion at Fort Hays State University and a Lecturer in Percussion at the University of Kansas. He is an avid performer and collaborator, striving to bring new percussion music to the world.

Dr. Kristin Pisano serves as Associate Professor of Clarinet and Saxophone in the FHSU Department of Music and is the Artistic Director of the FHSU New Music Festival. She received the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Clarinet Performance from the University of Miami in 1996 and 2005, respectively and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire. Her career as a clarinetist has taken her across the United States, Taiwan, and China.

Dr. Irena Ravitskaya enjoys a dynamic performing and teaching career that has taken her across Europe, Asia, and South and North America, giving notable performances around the world as a solo recitalist and chamber musician. She has played at venues such as the Castello Della Rovere, Casa Orfeo, and Niccolo Paganini music conservatory, and the Centro Cultural Borges. Born in Moldova (Former Soviet Union), Irena Ravitskaya began playing the piano at age six and at age nine won the National Competition of Moldova.

Dr.Timothy Rolls, composer, holds a B.A. in Music from SUNY New Paltz, an M.M. in composition from Binghamton University and a D.M.A. from the University of Houston. His theory teachers have included John Rothgeb, John Snyder, and Tim Koozin. He has studied composition with Michael Kinney, Gundaris Pone, and Michael Horvit. His works have been performed all over the country and in Great Britain, South Korea, Japan, and South America.

Dr. Ivalah Allen, soprano, has performed as soloist on the opera, recital, symphonic, and oratorio stage throughout the Midwest, including appearances with Choralfest), Kansas City Symphony, Miami University, Topeka Festival Singers and at Carnegie Hall. Besides her performance career, Dr. Allen is a clinician, vocal and classroom instructor, conductor, and opera and music theatre director. Prior to beginning her teaching career at Fort Hays State University she served on music faculties at Friends University, University of Wisconsin-Marshfield, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Washburn University.

Dr. Brian Buckstead is Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at Fort Hays State University, as well as director of the Hays Symphony. He enjoys a thriving career as a violinist, violist, conductor, and educator, having studied and performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Dr. Buckstead received his Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College, and his Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, all in violin performance.

Benjamin Cline, cellist, has performed in dozens of venues in the United States, Europe, Middle East, and the Far East. He has appeared as soloist with many orchestras, including the Kaohsuing City Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, was featured in performance on Public Radio’s WXXI “Live from Hochstein” in Rochester. Mr. Cline currently teaches Fort Hays State University as Professor of Music and serves as Department Chair.

Brad Dawson is Assistant Professor of Music at Fort Hays State University where he teaches trumpet, jazz ensembles, jazz improvisation, jazz history, and music technology. He is a graduate for Fort Hays State University and also The University of North Texas where he studied with John J. Haynie. While at North Texas he was a Graduate Teaching Fellow in applied trumpet and played the jazz trumpet chair in the 2 O’clock Lab Band.

Pam McGowne serves as full-time program specialist and staff accompanist in the Department of Music at Fort Hays State University since January of 2004. She received her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from FSU in 1976. McGowne has served as an accompanist for the Hays USD 489 since 1985, during which she accompanied all of the solos at contests and accompaniment for the choirs and Chamber Singers.

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