Artists in residence remind students music is a universal language

Joanne Goodall
THE AQUINIAN

When Clarinetist Venancio Rius Marti and pianist Maria Abad stopped by STU last week, they worked closely with the Fine Arts students through workshops and performances (SUBMITTED)

Silence fell over the Margaret Norrie recital room as the flood lights dimmed, the spotlights turned on and applause broke as two musicians walked to take their places on the stage.

Venancio Rius stood proudly in front of the crowd, gripping his prized possession in one hand- his beloved clarinet. At her throne in front of the piano, Maria Abad sat comfortably but alert.

There was a pause, the crowd remained silent- not even a rustle from the back. Then, a pulse of the piano began to vibrate from the walls. It continued as the clarinet stepped in with its sad, pondering dark melody.

The song told of a love sick young boy, possibly Romeo, thinking about the woman he loves most and longs for. He kept pondering- should I wait to see what God as in store or take love into my own hands?

But then, the tempo of the clarinet quickened- he chose. He quickly ran to the village market, to find the girl, to seize the day.

Last Friday’s concert marked the end of a week long journey for Rius, Abad and the students studying Fine Arts at St. Thomas University. Martin Kutnowski, head of the Fine Arts department, said he is very pleased with the work shown during the week’s workshops and lessons and thanks both Rius and Abad for venturing overseas to brighten the students’ insight on music.

Rius and Abad are very pleased with the students’ compositions, work, and musical talent. Both are prized professors in Valencia, Spain, winning countless of awards between them. Rius has performed around the world, including Austria, China, Holland, Sweden, Mexico, and the United States- just to name a few. Their expertise was appreciated and will benefit students’ work in the future. Their musical background both date back to their early childhood, with parents and family members who are musically talented, encouraging, and supportive.

“She [Abad] was really interesting,” Bobbi-Jo Riley, a pianist and Fine Arts student at STU said. “When she came to our class, we were actually able to play our pieces for her. So she talked about everything we were doing which was really good because we could apply what she was teaching us to our music we were learning.”

“So, not only did we get to hear her music we also got to have her feedback on our pieces.”

One of many lessons taught during the week was emotion and storytelling through music. Rius and Abad believe that music should not be done because you are made to do it and to pass it in on a due date, but should be made from the heart.

“The most important thing to me from all the students is that when they are playing it is the truth. That it’s real. It is what they feel inside,” Abad said. “When a piano student, for instance, is playing it is sometimes good to have a lot of energy. As well, sometimes the relationship between students and their work becomes a little bit competitive but here they enjoy themselves. You can see that it’s real and the truth. It’s original. The students aren’t doing this to get some money or to be a professional right away. They do it because they feel joy.”

During Rius and Abad’s concert, the audience could easily feel the passion for music both players have. Abad’s fingers glided effortlessly over the ivory keys, while beads of sweat formed on Rius’ forehead as he swayed back-and-forth to the harmony.

“I believe that the way my emotions become versatile, whether I am at a concert or performing my self, music is the best language to communicate my feelings and to feel a lot of different sensations,” Rius said. “Every time I am in contact with music my understanding of my feelings become better. Music is a universal language and sometimes we don’t need words to explain ourselves.”

The concert brought students and professors out of the blistery cold weather into a warm atmosphere. Both a classical guitar player and a professor of sociology, Peter Weeks didn’t let the weather dampen his love for classical music.

“I am a fan of classical music but in just this concert alone you can see the variety of music and that classical is a vague term, full of its own stereotypes,” Weeks said. “If you listened to Martin Kutnowski’s composition, it started with all sorts of disconnected rhythms, explorations, tones, and micro-tones with bending of notes, and all this sort of things, which I didn’t think was possible. So the music really explored the boundaries and stretching the boundaries of what we might call “classical” music.”

Kutnowski’s composition, Momentum, was played as a solo by Rius. Other compositions played at the concert were Bassi’s Fantasia da Concerto; Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie; Piazolla’s Oblivion; and D’Rivera’s Vals Venezolano which had some jazz undertones to the melody. Both Rius and Abad’s talent was flawless and many students hope to grow as artists and to be, one day, just as amazing as these professors and lovers for music.

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