Varner to host myriad of spring events

The lights dimmed as the clarinetist took his stance next to the fortepiano.

Natalie Cochran took the stage in an attractive pink gown and positioned herself in front of the microphone as she produced a melodic soprano voice.

The “Historic Evening of Clarinet Music” on Friday, March 5 marked another riveting display of fine arts by Oakland University’s department of music, theatre and dance.

At 8 p.m. the doors of Varner Recital Hall closed as internationally recognized clarinetist Dr. Nophachai Cholthitchata took center stage.

Before the show began, audience members were told that there would be an additional soprano in the performance.

Although she was not listed in the program, OU graduate student Tara Sievers took part in the event as well.

The hall was filled with about 50 people, ranging from OU students attending for a class to senior citizens simply enjoying the classical music. The event was free to the public.

“I actually found out about it through the Honors College e-mail that was sent out,” freshman Beth Jokisch said. “I’ve always been interested in music because I play an instrument.”

Freshman Kyle Rowe came to accompany his girlfriend who came because of a classroom assignment.

“She asked me to come and it’s been interesting,” Rowe said. “I’ve never been to anything like this. It’s good and something different.”

Cholthitchata began his first piece with pianist Angelina Pashmakova and soprano Cochran.

Both female artists attended graduate school at OU.

Pashmakova is a graduate of the Bulgarian Academy of Music in Piano Performance.

She has won many prizes at international competitions in Greece and Italy.

Cochran has also won many awards and went to Italy in the summer of 2008 to sing in different acclaimed pieces.

The “Historic Evening of Clarinet Music” demonstrated the evolution of instruments and their affect on the sound produced.

Cholthitchata would pause to discuss his clarinet’s unique make and how it affected the pieces he played.

During the first half of the show, Cholthitchata explained to the audience that he was using a replica of a wooden clarinet in a German art museum.

“The tone holes are placed differently which makes the clarinet more primitive and affects the sound produced,” Cholthitchata said.

The fortepiano, donated by a student, and period clarinet were both 18th century models.

Cholthitchata offered audience members the chance to play his clarinet backstage after the performance so they could see for themselves how a modern clarinet differs from a historic instrument.

The musicians switched from 18th century instruments to modern ones right before the intermission.

Cholthitchata and Pashmakova replayed the piece “Rondo Allegretto” to contrast the evolution of sound and music over the centuries.

“They’re all really talented and it’s really cool to see live music,” freshman Caroline Raffa said. “A lot of times we take it for granted that we hear music through the Internet or on a computer.”

The spectators applauded all of the artists for their exquisite work and showed appreciation for the informative performance after the finale.

Those that were not able to attend the event will have another opportunity to learn about the clarinet when Rebecca Reschin, author of “For the End of Time, The Story of the Messiaen Quartet” will appear at Varner Recital Hall on Saturday, March 13 at 8 p.m.

Author and OU music professor Jessica Payette will discuss the book with the audience.

Then, following the discussion, Oliver Messian’s “Quartet for the End of Time” will be performed.

Tickets are $17 for general admission and $9 for OU students.

The department’s next stage musical will be “Little Women.”

Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, the production will run from March 18-28.

Tickets are $17 for general admission, $9 for students and $7 for all 10 a.m. matinee seats. They are available at the Varner box office.

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