Five members of Ole Miss music faculty joined forces on Sunday to perform five pieces of music centered around memory.
The Faculty Woodwind Quintet featured two new members of Ole Miss music faculty: Nave Graham on flute and Austin Smith on oboe. Michael Rowlett, on clarinet, also performed; Adam Estes played bassoon and Leander Star played French horn.
The quintet began their performance with “Quintet No. 1,” written by Giuseppe Cambini. This piece is the earliest known for this combination of instruments.
The second piece, “Cinco Elegia” by Eurico Carrapatoso, was written to honor the greatest composers of the 20th century. Each of the five parts of this piece was written in the style of the composer it is meant to honor.
“Le Tombeau de Couperin” by Maurice Ravel, featuring Smith, closed the performance. This musical selection alludes to the baroque style of music popular in the late 1600s and early 1700s. This also happened to be one of Smith’s favorite pieces.
“Of course, my favorite was the Ravel because it features the oboe. It was really great to put together since I had never done it before,” Smith said.
The second half of the performance was comprised of two pieces, “Memoria,” by Esa-Pekka, and “Salonen and Spirituals: Steal Away,” arranged by Valerie Coleman.
“Memoria” is contemporary in comparison to the other four, having been finished in 2003.
Star called it more avant garde than the others. He explained to the audience that, although the piece is technical, it ends with a chorale completely different from the rest of the piece, which was written in remembrance of the composer’s teacher.
For Graham, it was the most challenging pieces she had ever played in a quintet.
“It involves tons of technical playing that doesn’t lay well in the fingers, and on top of that, the parts do not fit together easily,” Graham said. “It takes just a moment of inattention to pull apart from the ensemble, and then it becomes quite difficult to get back on track. I have to be sure to be 110% focused the entire time, not allowing my mind to wander for a second.”
Smith, was torn on whether his favorite piece was “Le Tombeau de Couperin” by Maurice Ravel or “Memoria” by Esa-Pekka Salonen. He appreciated the differences in the two pieces.
In “Memoria” Smith played both oboe and English horn. Graham also doubled on alto flute and flute.
“Well, the Ravel was more tactical, but the Salonen is just kind of relentless — like it doesn’t really stop. Yeah, whereas the Reval has individual movements. So you have a break,” Smith said. “I don’t want to say it’s hard. They’re just so different.”