On Sunday, February 10, cellist Christine Lamprea and pianist Navah Perlman gave a concert, “Scenes through the Lens of the Cello,” in Marshall Auditorium. An Astral Artist and winner of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, Ms. Lamprea is noted for “supreme panache” in her playing by The Boston Musical Intelligencer. The concert presented a program of Beethoven, Schubert, Tortelier, Schumann, and Debussy over two hours with an intermission. Many members of the public attended, and Lamprea and Perlman’s performance was rewarded with a standing ovation and an encore.
Dressed in a black blazer, Ms. Perlman waited at the piano. As the lights dimmed, Ms. Lamprea walked onto the stage wearing a red dress and holding her cello. Breathing in synchrony, the pair began the concert with Beethoven’s “Variations on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’ from Mozart’s Magic Flute.” Deeply immersed in the music from the start, Ms. Lamprea’s face showcased the emotions of the piece almost as well as her graceful bowing movements. The performance succeeded in capturing the audience’s attention, and by the second piece, the whole room was silent, save the occasional appreciative sigh. Lamprea breathed new life into music that was centuries old.
Tortelier’s “Bucéphale” deserved a unique introduction. “Who here knows about ‘Bucephalus?’” Lamprea asked the audience. The piece characterized Alexander the Great’s favorite charger horse, which had not been easy to tame. The tumultuous, uneasy relationship between headstrong conqueror and legendary horse was mirrored in the music. Lamprea demonstrated a rapping sound made with her bow on the strings which mimicked a rider kicking a horse’s sides. An abrupt sforzando ending signalled the gunshot that killed the steed. It was a lively, innovative, imaginative piece that featured the two musicians communicating through their instruments on the stage.
Despite the performers’ merits, there were very few students present at the event. Some of Haverford’s staff and faculty attended, but most of the audience had come from off-campus, as I observed during the intermission. Music lovers had come as couples, families, and individuals to enjoy the classical performance. But as I wandered through the eaves of Marshall Auditorium, I felt somewhat regretful that more students had not taken advantage of this opportunity.
For some, the classical music concert and its ritual—the stage with its grand piano, a slightly dimmed room as the performance is about to start, the silence of the audience—may seem arcane and old-fashioned, especially at Haverford, where students’ love of music is more likely to find expression in late-night collective singings of “Come on Eileen” on the weekend. In cases like these, “music” is a medium for conviviality—a participatory, group-bonding experience. The study-hard, party-hard mentality of some Haverford students may result with an impatience with classical music.
I recognize that the playlist for a Friday night tends to reflect and celebrate Haverford’s multiculturality, while a classical music concert may appear too ingrained in a musical tradition associated with stuffiness and elitism. However, this performance was one that did not disappoint, and I expect that students would be similarly delighted by classical music events in the future.
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