Aztec inspired recital impresses crowd
Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 6, 2013 22:10
The world of the Aztecs came alive Saturday evening in the Von der Mehden recital hall, as sophomore composition and clarinet performance major, Jonathan Schmieding showcased his composition “Las Canciones.”
Inspired by the culture, language and music of the Nahuatl (Aztec) people, Schmieding’s piece was performed by Marissa Chaffe on the flute, Marissa Levy on piano, Jessa Sahk singing mezzo-Soprano, Colby Herchel singing bass-baritone and Tyler Campbell on percussion.
Schmieding’s piece used lyrics and poems from the Florentine Codex, one of the only surviving records of the Nahuatl culture.
“Las Canciones” was composed of six individual pieces, an interlude and both an introduction and conclusion. The music was intended to bring listeners to an almost trance like state.
“This music is meant to be listened to passively,” said Schmieding, “That said, try and turn your mind off and let the music take you where it wants to take you.”
The music was soft and delicate, while maintaining a powerful and ethereal force. The music was performed continuously, without breaks between movements and immediately transported the audience to the misty hills of pre-Colombian Mexico.
“This was a really unique concert,” said Allyson Mansbridge, a Vernon resident. “Usually when I come to recitals here, you hear a lot of classically inspired music. It’s very nice to hear something really inspired and listen to something you are unfamiliar with.”
The piece began with an introduction entitled “El Mar de Tlalocan.” Tlalocan is supposed to be a rain deity and the music reflected the movement of water with delicate piano and a mysterious flute coming from off stage.
The introduction faded into the first piece of the series, “Canto de Cara Amarilla (El Dios del Fuego,” or Song of Yellow Face, The God of Fire. This song featured alternating male and female vocal parts, shared by Sahl and Herchel. Often, the singers would speak the lyrics as if they were telling an ancient myth, which in a sense they were. All of Schmieding’s songs reference Aztec myths and deities, creating an exotic experience.
The second piece was “Canto de la Madre de los Dioses” or “Song of the Mother of the Gods.” This piece mainly featured Herchel’s vocal part mainly, but the two voices merged towards the end creating delicate harmonies to juxtapose with the strong percussion.
“The second piece was my favorite,” said Mansbridge. “It had a really colorful feel to it and I felt like I was in Mexico at the time watching some ancient ritual.”
The remainder of the performance was well received by the intimate audience and met with thunderous applause for the Schmieding’s achievement.
Eleni De Vito, a Vernon resident and avid classical music fan, said she did not expect the music to be so exotic that evening.
“It was surprising to listen to something so complex and so intricate from a student.” Said De Vito. “You tend to forget that these talented students here at UConn are going to be making waves in the future. You might see them hear performing their recital, but in a few years who knows, maybe they’ll be performing at the Boston Opera House.”