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Cello student shows off skills

By Emily Lewson
On March 30, 2014

On Saturday, von der Mehden featured Matthew Nichols's senior concert.
Nichols is an 8tht-semester cello performance major. He studies under Michael Nicolas, a recent addition to the teaching staff at UConn. In the past, he has also received instruction from Leigh Hamilton, Yun-Yang Lin, and Dr. Katie Schlaikjer.
Nichols has performed with various groups on campus including UConn Symphony Orchestra and several other chamber groups. After performing the Lalo cello concerto with the Symphony Orchestra in December 2012, Nichols was selected as the winner of the 2012-2013 UConn Concerto Competition. Outside of UConn, he also serves as the principal cello of the Willimantic Orchestra. They have an upcoming performance, their Spring Concert, in the Shafer Auditorium at 3:00 pm on May 4.
For his senior concert, he played three compositions by Johan Sebastian Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich and Edvard Grieg.
The first piece, Suit No.4 in E-flat Major, BWV 1010, demonstrated Nichols true mastery of his instrument. The composition is known to be one of Bach's most demanding suites because E-flat is an uncomfortable key to play in. Nichols was forced to extend his left hand in unnatural positions.
Before beginning the second piece, Nichols introduced his pianist accompaniment, Allan Conway. This talented musician is well known at the UConn Storrs campus as he works with the Concert Choir, the Opera Theater and the University Orchestra. Conway assists with Performance class, Literature and Diction class and individual lessons.
Together, Nichols and Conway began Sonata in D minor for Cello and Piano, Opus 40. A colorful piece, it was one of Shostakovich's earlier works, composed in 1934. For the final part, IV Allegro, the pianist and cellist begin by alternating and then merging. It creates an exciting and emotional piece. Nichols and Conway played it with great depth.
This piece was followed by a short intermission. When everyone filed back in, Nichols and Conway returned to the stage to finish with Sonata in A minor for cello and piano, Opus 36. From start to finish, the final performance was close to half an hour.
As a whole, the concert was a demonstration of Nichols' talents on the cello.

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