For music lovers, springtime at the University of Virginia brings “an embarrassment of riches,” Ted Coffey, chair of the McIntire Department of Music, said.
From St. Patrick’s Day until the end of the spring semester, the department’s calendar features 52 concerts, colloquia, symposia and master classes, featuring students, faculty members and guest musicians. If you’re counting, that averages out to more than one concert per day.
“It’s akin to living in an urban cultural center: a huge range of musical styles and genres, presented in more concerts than you can attend,” Coffey said. “In many cases, our students are participating in and driving this abundance.”
Many of the shows are distinguished major recitals – end-of-the-year programs by undergraduate music majors who chose to work on a large-scale project during their fourth years.
“These shows are a culmination of a year’s hard work, or really, a lifetime’s,” Coffey said.
Each show can mean so much to the student musicians involved, as they share months and years’ worth of work with a live audience, often including their friends, families and faculty mentors. Then they join the audience and cheer on their classmates.
Fourth-year distinguished major student Baylor Towne, for example, will perform five violin pieces Friday in Old Cabell Hall, including one piece, “Fantasia No. 4” by Telemann, on the Baroque violin she picked up three years ago when she joined the Early Music Ensemble at UVA. She has been working on another piece, a sonata by J.S. Bach, for two years, and several others since the summer.
“I feel so blessed to be able to share this performance with my friends, family and all of the faculty who have helped me along the way,” Towne said. “There are so many people, from my music professors to staff in the music department, who have helped coordinate so many details about this recital and made this opportunity possible. I am truly grateful to each and every one of them.”
The shows span a variety of genres, from jazz to classical Indian music, and include solo performers and groups of all kinds, including the University Singers, UVA’s Klezmer Ensemble (focused on traditional Jewish music), jazz groups, the Virginia Women’s Chorus and many more.
“Performance is always a rich, intense experience,” Coffey said. “On top of that, at this time of the year, students get to be part of a monumental, University-wide artistic expression.”
Towne said that her fellow music students inspire her every day.
“I have had the amazing privilege of being surrounded by so many other talented musicians giving concerts this semester, especially my friends giving their own distinguished major recitals,” she said. “Listening to the other students’ performances and being able to give and receive feedback about the music we play has been an invaluable experience.”