It’s a new year, and that means there’s a new series of Faculty Tuesdays concerts on tap to take Boulder from the short winter days through the welcome thaw of spring. From piano preludes to mambo and Mendelssohn, the hustle and bustle of of the Imig Music Building expansion project will be offset by a variety of motifs drifting through the aisles of Grusin Music Hall, and for the faculty performers on the schedule, there is much to look forward to about this unique College of Music tradition.
“The community is so amazing,” says pianist Margaret McDonald. “I am happy to play for them because I love their support, and I get so much good feedback while I’m on stage.”
McDonald, along with violist Erika Eckert and mezzo soprano Abigail Nims, will kick off the 2019 Faculty Tuesdays series on Jan. 15 with “William Primrose in Song.” Primrose was a virtuoso Scottish violist who was also renowned for his transcriptions. Some of those works will be on the program, along with three works for mezzo soprano or alto, viola and piano that Primrose recorded over two days in the summer of 1941 with mezzo soprano Marian Anderson and pianist Franz Rupp.
It’s been something of a long-term project for Eckert, who has been tweaking the program for a few years. Eckert and McDonald have been performing as a duo since 2004, and Eckert shares that there is quite a history between her and Nims. “Abby and I grew up in the small town of Delaware, Ohio, where Abby took cello lessons with my mother, and I took voice lessons from her mother. It is pretty amazing the two of us have landed here in Boulder at the same time.”
“I’m very excited about this program because so many of the transcriptions are originally vocal works,” McDonald adds. “All of us instrumentalists strive to sound like singers, because they’re the most pure, so to be able to take their repertoire and work with it is special.”
The trio of names on the first Faculty Tuesdays program of the new year represents the norm for the beloved series. More often than not, the award-winning performers and pedagogues at the College of Music present as groups. The multi-billing serves to bring a large and varied audience to Grusin Music Hall every Tuesday—and to show students and community members the importance of collaboration to the college faculty.
“I don’t think people are aware of how rare it is for faculty to perform this often—and perform together,” McDonald says. “When I program concerts, I think about my students first, and what kinds of things I want to present in front of them. Nothing is better for them than to see the faculty up on stage doing what they’re teaching.”
For Eckert, some of her most treasured Faculty Tuesdays memories involve on-stage collaboration with other faculty, guests and CU students. “Recently, we have been playing with students more and more. On the String Faculty Tuesdays recital last year, we featured CU graduate quartet-in-residence, the Ajax Quartet; classical guitar students Keith Barnhart and Max Mondzac; and harp student, Jenna Allen in a number of student/faculty collaborations. We also commissioned a piece from CU student composer, Danielle Grines. Collaborating with each other and our students is one of the most fulfilling parts of performing on the series.”
And McDonald says she often plans programs entirely around which faculty members with whom she hasn’t yet performed. “I try to have a different variety of partners on stage, but I also think globally and try to figure out how I can work with those faculty I haven’t worked with in a while.”
So whether you’re looking to cut a rug (on Feb. 19) or enjoy a continuation of the CU Bernstein at 100 celebration (on March 5), join the CU Boulder College of Music faculty for this popular series, free most Tuesdays from September through March. For a full listing of all of this semester’s Faculty Tuesdays concerts, visit cupresents.org. And don’t forget to head to Imig Music Building tonight for “William Primrose in Song,” at 7:30 p.m. in Grusin Music Hall. You can also watch live online here.