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Music Faculty display their talents in second annual showcase

Faculty members Claudia Anderson and Robert Dunn performed a piece together at the Showcase. Photo by Charun Upara

By Carter Howe

Grinnell College music department faculty performed in the second annual Music Faculty Showcase on Tuesday, Oct. 3 in Sebring-Lewis Hall. Rather than longer, individual pieces, which has been the norm at traditional faculty recitals, the concert consisted of short group pieces of styles including jazz, bossa nova, classical, traditional Latin American music and folk songs from Mozambique, played on native instruments.

The concert was organized by Claudia Anderson, flautist and applied music associate. Anderson performed a classical piece as part of a trio and a traditional Venezuelan song as part of a duet. She believes that the structure of shorter pieces gave the faculty an opportunity to perform and collaborate that they would not have had in a traditional faculty recital.

“You know, we’re all busy, and doing so many other things, it didn’t seem possible to put together a whole program. That also engendered this idea of the showcase where you can commit ten or fifteen minutes maybe, and you can get to work with more colleagues than you normally would,” Anderson said.

Performer Applied Music Associate and vocalist Lisa Neher sang a piece by John Rommereim. The piece is based on a poem that describes a mother talking to her young son, who cannot yet speak complete words, as well as an arrangement of the jazz standard “Good Times” by Nicholas Miguel.

Miguel and Rommereim are also both members of the music faculty. For Neher, one of the fun aspects of the concert was that she and other music faculty got to perform each other’s compositions. 

“I think when you get a chance to perform a piece by a composer you really get a unique way into their way of looking at the world, because it’s such a personal expression: what notes do they choose, what chords do they choose,” Neher said.

Ethnomusicologist and saxophonist Mark Laver performed a bossa nova piece with Director of the Latin American Ensemble Gabriel Espinosa and Applied Music Associate Robert Dunn. On a basic level, Laver is just grateful for the opportunity to perform.

“I always wish I could play more. … I came to music first as a performer and secondly as an academic so performing is really something that gives me a lot of joy,” Laver said.

Anderson also found that performing together helps the faculty bond and improve their teaching.

“When we do perform together, we always say we should do this more. … I think everybody feels that it’s one of the difficulties of being in the world of music, you know, to carve out time to do that and … there’s nothing like performing for most of us, I think, to enhance our teaching to, you know, increase our own listening skills and awareness. I believe we always need to keep doing that,” Anderson said.

Ultimately, Laver believes the concert gives the music faculty an opportunity to show their skills as not just teachers but performers and show the incredible talent they have.

“We have an amazing faculty here. … I think it’s pretty clear to the students that the faculty are really wonderful and dedicated teachers, but the performance aspect of what we do isn’t always quite as visible,” Laver said. “So I think this event is a really nice opportunity to showcase how spectacular the music faculty are as artists and performers.”

Faculty members Claudia Anderson and Robert Dunn performed a piece together at the Showcase.
Photo by Charun Upara
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