Photo by Andrew Main | Brandon Harris serenades the audience with “Strike the Viol” and “A Shepard.”
Music students Harrison Dolan, Peter Kelmelis and Brandon Harris were showcased in the Oct. 4 music convocation.
Convocations are often referred to as “convos,” and are an assembly of people gathering to listen to student performances.
Unlike convocations in the past where jazz performances go last, coordinators Susan Thomas and Theodore Mook, musicians and professors in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Rhode Island, scheduled Dolan’s jazz group to go first. Classical performances from Kelmelis and Harris followed.
Students in the audience had mixed opinions about the change in performance order. Some thought having the jazz group go first was a helpful idea as it takes longer to set up the numerous instruments required, and there was less waiting time for the audience in-between performances. Others said they prefer when jazz groups go last as they enjoy ending with the uplifting tones. However, it was harder to transition from the upbeat jazz performance to the more somber mood of the classical pieces.
Dolan played the drums and was aided by Jason Taylor on the trumpet. Jeffrey Dilorio and Ryan Tremblay played the guitar. Steven Marcks played bass, and Faares Deeb played the cello. In their performance of “Come Together” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Deeb’s cello playing was unusual as he played it like a guitar instead of traditionally playing the instrument upright.
Deeb’s cello performance was not the only noticeable element of the leading performance. Every artist had their moment to shine, but both Dolan’s drum solo and Taylor’s solo on the trumpet stood out as stirring parts of the performance. As a whole, their jazz rendition of “Come Together” was lively and enjoyable to both listen to and watch.
Dolan picked the arrangement after gaining inspiration from listening to the vinyl record, “The Other Side of Abbey Road” by George Benson. The group of six looked as though they were genuinely having fun with their performance, having a contagious effect on the audience. There were cheers and applause throughout the performance.
Pianist Peter Kelmelis followed with his performance of “Visions Fugitives,” op.22 by Sergei Prokofiev and “Notturno,” op. 54, no. 4, by Edvard Grieg. At first, there was a melancholy tone to the piece which faded as the tempo became faster. An audience member said that his performance “flowed seamlessly,” as he easily transitioned between pieces.
The final performance was vocalist Brandon Harris who was accompanied by Cheryl Casola on the piano. Harris sang “Strike the Viol” by Henry Purcell, and “A Shepherd” by Theodore Chanler. Although breathy at times, Harris’s rich bass-baritone filled the entire concert hall. Dressed for the occasion in a tuxedo, his dedication to his artistry was evident from his impressive classical performance.
The weekly fall convocations at URI are special since each week features various new performances. Although mandated, Fine Arts students are given the opportunity to both receive feedback and perform for their peers and professors. During the question and answer portion of the event, Samantha Murphy, an audience member, said that she liked the “variety” in the performances. “That’s kinda what I love about convo,” Murphy said. “Everyday I don’t know what I’m coming into.”
Music convocations are every Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. at the Concert Hall in URI’s Fine Arts Center. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.