By Paulina Gajewski
The Conservatory of Music students took to the stage to tug on the heartstrings of audience members with its Music for Strings concert on Wednesday, Mar. 8. The concert, which was coordinated by Brooklyn College professor and two-time Grammy-nominated violinist, Jesse Mills, took place in the Don Buchwald Theater. Throughout the evening, the show’s design ensured the clarity of the melodies played by an assortment of violins, a cello, and a guitar.
String instruments are the foundations of most orchestral pieces. Whether the musician is plucking, striking, or bowing, strings can reach some of the highest and lowest sounds in a piece. Each of the songs played at the concert reflected the range string instruments have, a range just as vast as human emotion. These musical depths were showcased by wonderful musicians who were accompanied by Eri Kang on the piano.
Opening the show was Ajin Kim on the violin, playing “3 Old Viennese Dances: No. 2, Liebesleid.” In this piece, also known as “Love’s Sorrow,” by Fritz Kreisler, one could not help but feel sympathy with the woe perceived in the notes. With the piano accompaniment, Kim produced a sweet tone akin to a lover’s plea.
Lila Bruschi embarked next with a piece by the beloved Beethoven. Bruschi’s piece, the “Violin Sonata No. 5 in F Major, ‘Spring’ op. 24,” began with II. Adagio molto espressivo. As expressed in the name, the piece is slow yet expressive. Bruschi’s skills shone through, painting an image of petals of spring blooms slowly unfurling. Continuing onto III. Scherzo Allegro molto, Bruschi delivered a playful and brisk tune. The rapid notes lifted the audience, an exhilarating feeling that resembled a newborn bird learning to fly.
Following Bruschi’s performance was Mary Beth Castaño with a violoncello. Castaño excelled in her abilities to perform “Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, op. 89” by Brahms. She was able to keep a slow and steady pace while also reaching moments of emotional intensity.
Benjamin Kotik took to the stage with a piece by Bruch called, “Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26: 1. ‘Vorspiel (allegro moderato)’.” The vibrations were felt throughout the theater with the rapidity that Kotik displayed in his performance. William Swinick later assumed his position with “Violin Sonata in D major, RV10” by Vivaldi, showcasing his skills with the range of paces displayed in the piece.
Diverting from the evening’s predominant violins, Noel Cahill let the audience take a breath with his guitar performance. Cahill embodied both a classical and acoustic feel on the stage, demonstrating the full scope of musical techniques that can be achieved on the guitar. Cahill’s pieces included “Allegretto: 13 from 18 etudes progressives, op. 51” by Giuliani, “Prelude in F-sharp minor 1: From 12 preludes,” by Ponce, and “Sons de carrilhōes” by Pernambuco.
The concert’s closing piece returned to the violin. Samuel Braiman played “Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64” by Mendelssohn. Braiman began with the slow II. Andante, and accelerated in III. Allegretto non troppo. Allegro molto vivace.
In an interview with Braiman following the show, he stated the importance of conservatory shows. “Performing is also a skill in its own, which is why it’s important to perform here at Brooklyn College,” he told The Vanguard. “It helps me prepare for the real world.”
With a final flourish and bow, the audience was filled with beating hearts and full souls. The Conservatory of Music’s second Music for Strings performance is set for May 10.