Virginia Tech faculty recital Savour of Ice and Roses
Virginia Tech Department of Music faculty Nancy McDuffie, Wallace Easter and Tracy Cowden present a recital entitled Savour of Ice and Roses: Musical Warmth to Chase the February Chill on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 8:00 p.m., in the Squires Recital Salon located in the Squires Student Center on College Avenue adjacent to downtown Blacksburg.
This concert of chamber music featuring the not-so-frequent combination of soprano, French horn, and piano has special meaning for soprano McDuffie. Originally scheduled for performance two years ago, it had to be postponed for reasons that could have shattered her singing career. While undergoing routine, non-vocal chord related surgery, McDuffie suffered vocal chord paralysis following the surgery. Fortunately, after months of therapy, she regained her magnificent voice and is back to perform this recital of works by Berlioz, Richard Strauss, Donizetti, Saint-Saëns, and Michael Haydn.
The recital’s program of chamber music offers a full range of musical chronology from the Baroque to the Twentieth Century. Michael Haydn’s sacred piece Nach der Wandlung (After the Transformation) originally scored for organ, horn and voice while he was Kapellmeister of Salzburg, will be performed by McDuffie, pianist Cowden, and hornist Easter. Typical of the classical lyrical style of the Vienna School, this piece is a perfect example of why Joseph Haydn claimed his younger brother’s sacred compositions were far superior to his own.
Camille Saint Saëns’s Romance for horn and piano exploits the most endearing smooth qualities of which the horn is capable. A major figure in the Romantic Era, Saint Saëns was a child prodigy who made his professional debut at the age of ten in a recital in which he offered an encore of any of Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas from memory.
The program’s composition from the Twentieth Century is Arnold Cooke’s Nocturnes a cycle of five songs that uses the writings of some of England’s finest poets including D.H. Lawrence. Nocturnes is a fine examples of Cooke’s proficiency in text painting within a complex melodic line. A student of Paul Hindemith, Cooke’s compositions include many more works for instrumental ensembles but his five vocal pieces and two operas continue to emerge as valuable and notable additions to the vocal repertoire.
A native of Roanoke, Va., McDuffie, holds degrees in both music education and vocal pedagogy from East Carolina University and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the State University of New York at Fredonia. McDuffie says she enjoys a variety of musical styles and particularly excels at 20th century vocal works. In May 2003, she premiered a commissioned set of songs by Jon Polifrone of poetry by contemporary singer and entertainer, Jewel. In 2004, McDuffie was selected to sing at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Chamber Music Convention to perform a piece by 20th century composer, Ellwood Derr. On vocal studies faculty at Virginia Tech for 15 years, she is presently serving as secretary for the Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and is pursuing post-graduate study in laryngeal science.
Easter, a western New York native, began study of the horn at age nine and received early instruction from Lowell Shaw, hornist with the Buffalo Philharmonic and noted composer of horn literature. While attending the Oberlin Conservatory of Music he studied under Robert Fries who came to Oberlin from the Philadelphia Orchestra. Easter's graduate work at the Catholic University of America included horn study with Joseph Singer of the New York Philharmonic. He began his professional career while in the United States Marine Band performing in the prestigious group, "The President's Own" stationed in Washington, D.C.
Easter is a featured soloist with many orchestras in the mid-Atlantic region and performs in recital at professional conferences and music festivals in the United States and in Europe. In 1981, he joined the faculty of the Music Department at Virginia Tech and the Roanoke Symphony as principal horn. His academic duties at Virginia Tech include teaching the horn studio, the University Brass Ensemble, the Horn Ensemble and a course in music theory. He frequently gives master class presentations with the most recent at the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Mich.. Easter is featured on the newest release of the Hornists' Nest, an album titled The Fripperies that is frequently heard on the Roanoke National Public Radio station, WVTF.
Cowden joined the Virginia Tech music department faculty as assistant professor of piano and vocal coach in 2004. She received the D.M.A. and M.M. degrees in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music from the Eastman School of Music, and a B.M. degree in Piano Performance from Western Michigan University. She has previously served as a faculty member at Ohio Wesleyan University, and as an adjunct faculty member at Kalamazoo College and Hope College in western Michigan. As a collaborative pianist, Cowden has performed with the Cavani Quartet, the Audubon Quartet, and the Marble Cliff Chamber Players, and in recitals with principal musicians from the Montreal, Vancouver, Boston, and Columbus symphony orchestras. She has been featured as a concerto soloist with the Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Southwest Virginia, and the Ohio Wesleyan University Chamber Orchestra. In collaboration with Nancy Gamso from Ohio Wesleyan University, Tracy released an album entitled With Blackwood and Silver, featuring modern duo repertoire for flute with piano and clarinet with piano. She also can be heard with the Eastman Wind Ensemble in its 50th anniversary recording, released in 2002.
The mission of the Department of Music at Virginia Tech is to provide professional music training to select music students and to enhance the cultural life of the university, region, and the Commonwealth. These are accomplished through teaching, professional service, artistic performance, creativity, and research. The Department of Music, located in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, also provides high-quality training to a wide variety of ensembles and courses for large numbers of non-music majors.
Tickets are $5 for general and $3 for students and seniors and are available at the door one hour prior to performance time.