Monday, January 11, 2016

Hidden Lessons: The Fifth Annual EYSO Faculty Recital

In its fifth annual recital Sunday, the faculty and staff of Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra performed a wide variety of short, interesting pieces for an audience of mostly students and parents, but their finest work was not specifically noted in the program.

These inspired artists each taught a different lesson—often hidden, but always powerful—with their choice of material and careful performances.

Daryl Silberman performs
 three movements from
Canonic Sonata No. 1
in G Major by Telemann.
In her "digital duet" of three movements by Georg Telemann, violinist Daryl Silberman vividly demonstrated how listening is just as important to musicianship as is playing. Her delay-enhanced renditions, like performing in front of a mirror, makes the point that at times, we may learn the most when we listen to ourselves.

A minimalist composition by Philip Glass tied in neatly with EYSO's spring theme (exploring musical concepts of time), but another truth could be found in its world premiere arrangment for piano and four hands by Rachel Elizabeth Maley: a piece of music lives many lives. With every new performance or arrangement, we create a new life for it, using one of the few human powers that approach the divine.

Like the other selections in the recital, program notes for the marimba solo by Joe Beribak provided concise history and listening points, but his expert mallet work illustrated something different that every artist or athlete eventually must learn. Performance involves your whole body—its systems, size, position and proportion—and how it interacts with the space around it.

Joseph Beribak performs
Capricho Árabe by Tárrega.
The EYSO Faculty Recital offers unexpected instrumentation, like the combination of trumpet, violin and piano. Beyond the interesting pairing of brass with strings, the trio of Jason Flaks, Andrew Masters and Rachel Maley suggests that all voices, even muted ones, are capable of great beauty, and that everything that's beautiful is, first and foremost, sincere.

The Piano Quartet by Gustav Mahler is noteworthy because it's the only surviving piece of chamber music from the great symphonist's earliest years. Serving not just as a vehicle for the expressive playing by EYSO faculty, it proves that great work by a student is meaningful, and not everything from our own youth need be discarded.

Anthony Krempa (violin), Rachel E. Maley (piano),
Theresa Goh (viola) and Timothy Archbold (cello)
perform Piano Quartet in A Minor by Gustav Mahler.
With his well-placed "teachable moments," EYSO Artistic Director Randal Swiggum confirms what we have repeated for decades, that in Elgin, you can get as great an education as you want ... you simply have to want one.

Perhaps above all, this recital showed that technical perfection, despite its pedagogical importance, is not the goal of music education. Artistic expression is part of our humanity, and whether we choose the notes, play the notes, or listen to the notes, we can communicate across centuries in ways that transcend any particular language or doctrine.

The EYSO experience is not just for students who are preparing for advanced musical study; it is for any student preparing for a higher quality of life. For more information, visit

Timothy Archbold (cello), Randal Swiggum (piano) and Karen Archbold
(soprano) perform Geistliches Wiegenlied by Johannes Brahms.

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