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Conservatory presents original faculty composition

Ricky Cruces, Contributing Writer

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The newly named Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at Cal State University Long Beach began their musical calendar with a very strong program featuring works from Giuseppe Verdi, Franz Schmidt, Richard Strauss and a piece from our very own Michael Carney. Conducted by Johannes Müller-Stosch, the orchestra has been improving by leaps and bounds, sounding more polished and beautiful with each performance.     The opening piece was Verdi’s Nabucco Overture. It started with low volume, with a sudden explosion of sound when the entire orchestra comes in. The sound of it was quite epic, as most opening selections are meant to be. Yet, even with the orchestra’s amazing performance, it was in essence a “typical opening orchestra piece” said double bass player Kate Findlay.     Carney’s piece was by far the best piece played in the night. His composition entitled “Island Fantasy Suite” was a great departure from the normal classical vibe that, in some cases, may be too boring for the average listener to sit through. In this composition, which featured Carney on the vibraphone and steel drums, the textures managed to become very beautifully layered and executed by not only the orchestra, but by the band that accompanied them that consisted of a bass player and drum set player. The most interesting feature of this work was the percussion break where Carney played the samba whistle, James Yoshizawa played tambourine and Paul Stengel played the congas.     The third piece of the night was from Austrian composer Franz Schmidt, entitled “Intermezzo from Notre Dame.” This was a very beautiful work that put the audience back into the rhythm of the concert after the short break. The violin solo by concertmaster Solomon Liang was beautifully executed, as is most of his solos from previous concerts and recitals.
    Percussionist Amanda Duncan held down the timpani and other various percussion instruments throughout the last half of the show, keeping together and perfectly accenting all of the finer aspects and subtle nuances. Aside from “Island Fantasy Suite,” “Intermezzo” was my favorite.     “Death and Transfiguration, op. 24” was the final piece for the night. Yet as an ending piece, I was not thrilled with it. Strauss’s tone poem is a brilliant piece in itself, but it did not deliver the grand finale I was waiting for. By the end I was, like many people sitting within my vicinity, restless and waiting for a finish. The closing piece, however cliché it sounds, should be like saving the best for last. However, the brass and percussion sections were standout with their playing in this piece.     Every concert has its ups and downs and its highs and lows, and that’s what gives it the dynamic it needs to keep the audience interested. I just think the pieces were, at times, ill placed. Overall it was a great concert with excellent players, an outstanding conductor who has brought so much to the music department and brilliantly written pieces.

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