By JULIA HABLAK, Staff Writer
The 2017-2018 Music Season at Haverford College kicked off on Sunday, Sept. 17, with a performance by cellist Jason Calloway in the Union Music Center. It was an intimate space, and made more so by the fact that Calloway stood at the side talking familiarly with friends and colleagues while the audience, comprised of adults and students alike, filed in steadily.
Calloway truly embraced the Music & Conversation title of his performance. Before each piece Calloway let the composers, some of whom were in the room, provide an introduction to the piece. After he finished playing, he welcomed audience commentary and questions.
Calloway started off with “Suite for Cello” (2016), composed by Ingrid Arauco, a Professor of Music at Haverford College and the organizer of Calloway’s performance. Following this was Richard Brodhead’s “Lament” (1992), which Brodhead explained as having been inspired by his father’s death.
Suzanne Sorkin introduced her rhythmic composition “Angel of Fire” (2010) as an incantation to the Angel of Fire. “One Toe Under…” (2017), composed by Richard Belcastro, had its debut performance. The piece’s backstory was met with laughter from the audience – It tells of Belcastro’s childhood fear of his sister’s doll, and how he believed that as long as he kept at least one toe under his blanket he would remain safe.
The next two pieces were Karola Obermueller’s “But one adagio smile still lingers” (2004) and Mena Mark Hanna’s “Wadi-N-Natrun” (2006, rev. 2010). Neither of these composers were present, but Calloway did both the composers justice with his fascinating and personal backstories for the pieces.
Calloway performed all the pieces masterfully, employing a wide variety of techniques on his cello. By plucking the strings and hitting his bow against the fingerboard, he was able to, as one audience member marveled, produce almost every conceivable sound. As he wrapped up the performance he explained that cello has become such a popular contemporary instrument because the range of sounds it could make was so great, allowing musicians to experiment.
The solo performance gave students a wonderful opportunity to talk with some talented and passionate musicians and composers, and it gave the audience a chance to lose themselves in the music.
The next performance of the Haverford Music Season will take place on Sunday, September 24 at 3 p.m. Violinist Giora Schmidt will perform, accompanied by Victor Santiago-Asuncion on piano, and will take place in Roberts Hall, Marshall Auditorium. Ticket prices are $20 (Adult), $15 (Sr), $10 (Stu), $5 (7-17). Performance is free to the Tri-College Community.