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Faculty Showcase Takes a Musical World Tour

In case you were unfortunate enough to miss the annual Faculty Showcase, here's your chance to relive the experience.

2005 faculty showcase

Soprano, Ann Rhodes (with Gale Heard on piano) starts our journey with a beautiful voice that enchants the audience with only four stanzas of lyrics to the song, "Lascia ch'io pianga." The lyrics, although in Italian, set the mood for the evening, leading your mind to wander.

Percussionist, Tripp Bratton picks up where Rhodes left off and adds the beat of African drums. Suddenly, you're no longer sailing on the Italian Riviera, but at an African tribal celebration. The particular rhythm Bratton begins to beat out with his hands took him ten years to master. The performance begins as a solo, but quickly turns into melee of coordinating beats, all which seem to be in and out of rhythm at the same time, but still manage to pulsate through your body. As you feel the urge to move and dance, you begin to recognize the individual character of each drum. The infectious vibrations are so rapturing, images of dancers in bright, bold-colored clothes "appear" on the stage.

Guitarist, John Hedger whisks us up north to Britain, travelling back in time to the days of European folk music and dancing. Your thoughts get lost in the notes pouring from his instrument; and you don't know why, but you're sure the song tells a story about a lost love. You feel pain, sorrow, and longing with each strum of his guitar. But before you sink too low, the mood changes, and Hedger shifts into a more festive sound, simply noted in the program as "Round Dance."

Stephen Bolster and Pianist Robert Lewis extends our stay in Eastern Europe with songs inspired by the work of Shakespeare. The ballads tell the story of a man singing about love and, which was performed wonderfully by the austere Bolster. Although elegant, the ballad retained some of Shakespeare's wit with the line "Come kiss me one and twenty", which, in context, amused the audience to soft chuckles.

Tubist Charles Turner takes us on a flight over the North Pole, playing a song he learned from his music teacher. The audience prepares itself for some lethargic rendition of long-lost-love ballad and images of hippos walking through mudwater begin to "materialize" in your mind; however, with swift movement of hands, and light notes from the horn, Turner makes the most impressive sound on a tuba that most likely has never been heard by the audience. The crowd, stirred with amazement, marvels at the tuba's range and the musician's ability. Eventually, the music produces a very different image in your mind, one of daintiness, light-footedness, and elegance, like hippos on ice-skates.

Pianist and songstress, Kathy Bullock brings us back to the United States, reliving a time when our nation was full of struggle and hope. Her powerful peformance of centuries-old spirituals are sung with a flood of emotion through voice and piano, culminating in a soul-shaking note.

Clarinetist, Atossa Kramer takes us inside the imaginary world of child with the song that literally means to jump around like a goat. "It's a character piece," Atossa explains. "It may make you think of a story." And it does. Instantly your mind conjures up two rabbits in a field playing a sneaky game of chase. The story reaches a dramatic pinnacle, but quickly returns to its playful, teasing personality.

Pianist, Robert Lewis returns to seat us in an opera house as he takes us on a classic Chopin journey. We see his immense enjoyment in his craft as his hands sweep across the keys with drama, passion, and magic.

Fiddler, Al White, Kathy Bullock, and Tripp Bratton join together to take us to a place where musical mixtures play. The surprising combination of fiddle, piano, and drum set is overwhelming. You try hard to place the tune in a genre, but it's impossible. The music is elegant folk, soft rock, classical, and hip bluegrass mix; it's hick-hop! You're at a Kid Rock, Alicia Keys, and BC Folk Ensemble concert all at the same time. The mix is exhilarating.

Al White switches to guitar and brings us back home to the sweet hills of Appalachia while singng the legend of "Ole John Henry." With a soothing, bonafide country sound, he retells the story, and you can hear and see John Henry driving steel into the ground. "Listen to that cool steel ring," White croons. This song about the "steel-drivin'" hero of Appalachia seems so appropriate for our location, and even those who are not Berea natives feel at home.

Sopranos, Rhodes and Heard return with baritone Bolster and pianist Lewis. Two women have just gotten engaged to their respective male courters. Some man, however, convinces their fiancees that the women's fidelity should be tested before marriage. The men decide to fake going away to war, and then secretly watch what happens as their new fiancees are left at home. The women (for some unexplainable reason) dress up as men as attempt to seduce the other--but neither are keen enough to realize that their "wooer" is the other female. The trickery and drama ensues, as the performance is grandly carried out with the faculty's vocal and instrumental talents.

Organist, John Courter, and percussionist Tripp Bratton arrive to bring the biggest surprise of the night. When you think of organs, you probably are reminded of Sunday worship at church. Well, Courter and Bratton haved united to bring a fresh funk to this sound. The beats and rhythms are so catchy and contemporary you can't tell if you're at a new 21-club, Alicia-Keys concert, or Rolling Stones performance!

Heard and Lewis return for a beautiful ballad enamored by Heard. This beautiful song, which was the song Heard sang in her first opera, resonates over the crowd, woven with harmony from the soprano and piano.

And for the finale, Lewis and Courter combine talents on one piano. Twenty fingers fly across the keys, producing such musical grandeur that the audience is awed. The score itself contains some dischord, but the performance from these gifted individuals was seamless. They end the night with exquisite, auditory beauty.

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