The School of Music, Theatre & Dance presented the String Showcase at Stamps Auditorium this Wednesday evening. Students were chosen by their faculty to perform in the String Showcase; the performers ranged from first year undergraduate music students to graduate students to musicians who have already received their doctorates. That said, I could not tell any difference in talent levels — I was pleasantly surprised by how exceptional the entire show was. The performance showcased a wide range of music. They chose a satisfying balance of classical and contemporary compositions.

Although the music was seemingly flawless, the performers struggled to maintain their emotional connection to the music. Sometimes, especially during the first piece, performers would comment on their work with their facial expressions, either smirking or stealing suspicious glances at their fellow performers. It was disappointing to see that their spirit was not fully committed to the music. 

Exceptions to this critique include the Anthony Green piece and Julius Conus’s Violin Concerto. Both of those pieces contained passion that was missing in the others. In the Julius Conus piece, the intensity given so generously by the violinist Kevin Sung was refreshing. The Anthony Green piece performed by Jonah Lyon and May Tang on violin, Maxwell Moore on viola and Gabrielle Hooper on cello was reminiscent of a classic horror film score, except far more dynamic and exciting. I most enjoyed the percussive and grounded nature of the piece. 

The finale performed by violist Stuart Carlson and pianist Mi-Eun Kim was especially rewarding because it was to the tune of “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin. The audience hummed along and chuckled to the tune. Ending the show with “Smile” after experiencing all the complexity of the pieces before seemed like a reward for attending. This is not to say that Carlson’s or Kim’s performance was any less nuanced or exceptional as the others. The performance of this song was just so inspiring that my inner ballerina wanted to jump up on the stage and dance.

The impulse to twitch along to the music happened a couple other times during the show when the musicians were especially committed. The audience couldn’t help but to be affected physically when the music was especially compelling. Those were my favorite moments.

The String Showcase happens monthly, so if you missed this one, there will be another next month. Plus, the event is free. It’s a great way to support artists and learn more about the exceptional work they do on North Campus.

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