Fall music concerts delight at new PAC

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

The SDSU Music Department held two concerts last week as both the Winter Jazz Concert and the Fall Choral Concert showcased the new Performing Arts Center in front of larger-than-usual audiences. The performances were well-received and the new facility drew rave reviews from performers and attendees alike.

The Fall Choral Concert, under the direction of Dr. Charles W. Canaan, took place Sunday afternoon in front of a total-capacity crowd. The concert featured performances by the University Women’s Choir, the SDSU Statesmen and the SDSU Concert Choir.

The University Women’s Choir began the concert with several soft songs that included “Cantate Domino” and “Dona Nobis Pacem,” They also sang “There is Sweet Music Here,” a song which was first performed at Dr. Canaan’s first choral concert at SDSU in 1986.

The SDSU Statesmen then took the stage and sang several traditional songs including “Grace” and “America the Beautiful.” They ended their set with a less serious tune as they sang “There is Nothing Like a Dame” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.

After an intermission, the SDSU Concert Choir began its portion of the concert with Wolfgang Mozart’s “Jubilate from the Offertorium Pro Omni Tempore,” the first of three songs that were inspired by the Biblical Psalms.

In addition to a strong musical performance, the Fall Choral Concert resulted in a surprisingly delightful first for the newest building to the SDSU campus.

After “La Passeggiata (The Excursion),” choir member Jon Melby suddenly left the risers for the front of the stage and called his girlfriend Jill Felderman up to the stage.

After speaking several words of praise about his girlfriend of two and a half years, Melby dropped to a knee and proposed to Felderman, who accepted.

The sequence came as a delightful surprise for both the choir and the audience. The spontaneity of the event was real, as Canaan kept the whole thing a secret.

“I had the engagement planned for awhile, but I just decided to do it today. You know when it feels right,” Melby, a senior speech communications major, said.

“This was the best possible experience,” Felderman, a senior nursing major, said.

The concert choir was especially shocked as Melby carried through his proposal; however, the choir members were overjoyed and supportive as the scene unfolded in front of them.

“I thought it was the sweetest thing ever,” Jessica Burton said.

“We were all excited and we sang with more energy because of him,” Mark Diischer said.

After the joyful interruption, the concert choir performed some traditional tunes before ending their set with the traditional Irish folk song “What Would You Do If You Married a Soldier.”

The concert ended with all three choirs singing “Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah” as a tribute to the completion of the Performing Arts Center and the upcoming holiday season.

For Choir Director Canaan, this concert was his 17th and final fall choral concert. He was pleased with the good acoustics in the Center and the filled seats.

“It was exciting. It was the largest crowd we’d ever had for a concert,” Canaan said.

Dr. Canaan was also presented an award by the Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce as its 2002 Educator of the Year prior to the concert choir’s performance. This recognition drew a standing ovation from the audience.

The new facility and its pleasant sound also received praise from the choral performers.

“The acoustics were splendid. It was great to see a full house,” Katie Strom, SDSU Concert Choir member, said.

“It’s a really wonderful building,” Holly Donnelly, University Women’s Choir member, said.

“It was nice. The acoustics were good in the new building,” SDSU Statesmen member Clark Osvog said.

The Winter Jazz Concert, under the direction of Dr. Corliss Johnson and Dr. Rick Crawley, took place last Thursday in front of a gathering of several hundred people at the Performing Arts Center. The concert featured performances by two jazz combos and the jazz ensemble.

The first half of the concert was devoted to the jazz combos, smaller groups that help younger band members gain experience and improve their improvising skills.

The Tuesday Jazz Combo, under the direction of Dr. Crawley, began the concert with three songs, ending with “St. Thomas,” an aggressive tune that featured a drum solo by Mark Diischer.

The Thursday Jazz Combo then began their set and continued the strong start to the concert with three songs of their own.

Their act included the tune “Yardbird Suite” and the aggressive “A Night in Tunisia.”

The Monday-Wednesday Jazz Ensemble then took the stage after an intermission and delighted the crowd with a set of seven songs that alternated between upbeat, funky songs such as “Old No. 7” and “Work Song” and softer tunes such as “In Your Own Sweet Way” before concluding with the fast-paced big-band sound of “One Note Samba” and the swinging selection “Tenor Madness.”

A highlight of the jazz ensemble performance was “My Romance” which featured a brilliantly emotional piano solo by Lacey Kruse, an acclaimed student pianist who usually specializes in classical music.

“Playing jazz is a learning experience, but it’s more relaxed and allows me to have more fun,” Kruse said.

The fast-paced concert was well-received by the audience as many attendees were attentive to the beat of the show and very supportive of the numerous solo acts throughout the performance.

Dr. Johnson was very upbeat throughout the concert as he praised the new facility and was actively moving with the beat of the band as he directed the jazz ensemble and the second combo.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity for the band to play in a facility like this.

It’s amazing what can happen when band members can hear themselves,” Johnson said.

Not only did the new concert hall enhance the listener’s appreciation of jazz music, it was a great boon to the members of the jazz band as there were able to work together easier.

“It brings out the musical capabilities of the band. It sure beats playing at the Pavilion,” baritone saxophonist Dan Coughlin said.

“It made our band come alive and sound enormously better,” Kruse said.

“The new hall made us rise to the challenge. The people really enjoyed it,” trumpeter Pat Weight said.