Gabriel Smith, Campus Carrier asst. arts & living editor
On Oct. 15, Kris Carlisle, associate professor of music, performed in a piano concert with visiting artist Rachel Chung as part of the Music Department’s ongoing Faculty Artist Series. Chung is a Korean-American pianist who currently serves as associate professor at Spelman Collegein Atlanta, Ga. The concert contained five different pieces played by Carlisle and Chung and represented the culmination of over a year of planning and preparation, according to Carlisle.
“Actually, we started working on this project, probably about a year ago, and we actually had a number of concerts set up for last year,” Carlisle said. “I think that when we went remote here at Berry, we were about two weeks away from doing our concert here.”
After the concerts were initially thrown off schedule by the sudden transition to online instruction, Carlisle said, the challenge became figuring out how to hold a two-person piano concert while following social distancing and face-covering requirements.
“We had to figure out if we could actually sit and play the piano wearing a mask the whole time,” Carlisle said. “So, once we figured out that that was actually going to be doable, then we were good for it.”
According to Carlisle, each piece in the concert is a grouping of movements.
“There’s going to be five different pieces, and they’re all pretty much groupings of things, so one piece might have five movements, another one might have six or seven, one of them has six perhaps, something like that,” Carlisle said. “The whole concert’s going to be about, probably an hour and ten [minutes], at the most.”
With respect to the style and origin of the pieces, Carlisle explained that viewers can expect pieces written after 1920, but not particularly recently.
“They’re all written after 1920,” Carlisle said. “We don’t go completely modern. We have some modern things that are written in the last few years, but we’re not playing those on this particular concert.”
He noted that of the composers represented in the concert, only Samuel Barber and George Gershwin are American; the rest are European. Of these, he said Gershwin is his favorite.
“We’re playing a Gershwin piece, and I think that’s my favorite,” Carlisle said. “He wrote something called a Cuban overture, and then he wrote a piano duo version of it, and so we’re performing that – it’s a lot of fun.”
As Carlisle further explains, this concert was exciting in that it was the first opportunity he had to play with Chung, who is a long time friend and peer of his.
“We’ve not played together. We’ve known each other for a number of years,” Carlisle said. “She’s played up here, I’ve played down there, but this is the first time – this will be our first concert.”
He furthered that the opportunity to collaborate with another professional in his field was, from his perspective, actually one of the most exciting aspects of the concert.
“It’s the ability to work with another professional musician at the piano,” Carlisle said. “That’s not something that’s done very often. So, it was really fun, and exciting, to find somebody that was interested in getting into that kind of project and somebody that had the same interest, in terms of contemporary music, that I do.”
In general, Carlisle said that while he was disappointed the concert couldn’t allow for in-person attendance, he was still excited that community members were able to enjoy it online allowing them to experience the concert despite the pandemic. He looks forward to future concerts and performances from the Berry music department.