Moores faculty performs classical viola pieces
The melodic sounds of the Moores School of Music Faculty Recital echoed through the Dudley Recital Hall Tuesday night as music professors performed works by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, York Bowen, Charles Martin Loeffler and Michael Haydn.
The concert started out with “Duet in G Major for Two Violas,” composed by Friedemann Bach — the son of Johann Sebastian Bach — and performed by Wayne Brooks, principal violist of the Houston Symphony, and Suzanne LeFevre, principal violist of Mercury Baroque.
In addition to solo appearances with the Houston Symphony, Brooks, a graduate of the Curtis Institute, has appeared in numerous chamber music performances with Joseph Silverstein and Lynn Harrell, served on the faculty of Japan’s Pacific Music Festival, toured Japan and Europe, recorded works of Webern and Berg and appeared at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival in 1996.
Brooks currently serves as an affiliate artist of viola at UH’s Moores School of Music and constantly inspires his students in their musical aspirations.
“He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet,” said music education sophomore Shelby Thompson, a student of Brooks. “He never tells you when he’s performing. He’s super humble and one of the most inspiring people I have met in my entire life.”
Thompson has been playing the viola for 11 years, receives lessons from Brooks every week and hopes to become a viola performer.
The recital transitioned to Bowen’s “Phantasy for Viola and Piano, Op. 54,” performed by Brooks and pianist Timothy Hester, and then to Loeffler’s “Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola and Piano.”
“Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola and Piano,” composed in 1901, was based on the poems “L’etang” and “La Cornemuse” by the French poet Maurice Rollinat.
The first poem, “L’Etang” or “The Pond,” describes an eerie scene of a pond inhabited by goblins, consumptive toads and the moon resembling “a death’s head” under “a near sky rumbling with dull thunder.”
The second poem, “La Cornemuse” or “The Bagpipes,” speaks of bagpipes that sound like a wailing wind through the woods. In Loeffler’s composition, the drone of the bagpipe is evoked by open fifths and octaves.
“Two Rhapsodies” reflect both the atmosphere of the poems and the relationship between the melodies of the piano, oboe, and viola.
Oboist Anne Leek said she felt honored when Wayne Brooks, the designer of the program, asked her to play Loeffler.
“Because it is a virtuoso and physically demanding oboe part, I trained and practiced for it so I would have stamina to play the long phrases. We rehearsed several times over the last two weeks,” Leek said.
The last piece, “Quintet in C Major, Op. 88,” composed by Haydn for two violins, two violas and a cello, was a crowd-pleasing favorite.
Computer information systems senior Michael Pham, who has a background in piano, violin and guitar, came to the event for his music appreciation class.
“The very last movement of the last song was really energetic. It really popped out to me,” Pham said.
Pham was not alone in his admiration.
“Besides the solo, my favorite song would have to be the last tidbit, just for the sole purpose that when they play together, you feel everything,” Thompson said. “It’s very musical, and balance-wise, they sound as if you can’t tell who’s playing what. They’re just so good.”