Joined by an appreciation of music, a mixture of professors, students, and residents of Hillsdale came together at the Markel Auditorium on Friday, Jan.31. Music professors Chris McCourry and Brad Blackham presented a special recital featuring the music of James Stephenson.
The first portion of the program featured pieces composed by James Stephenson including “Burden of Destiny,” “2/2 Tango, L’Esprit,” “Martha Uncaged,” and “Legacies” — all written for three. Chris McCourry and guest artist Vince DiMartino performed on trumpet, and Brad Blackham played the piano.
The second part of the concert focused on a jazz feel and featured not only trumpeters Chris McCourry and Guest Artist Vince DiMartino, but also student Christopher Scheithauer on trumpet, Dan Palmer on guitar, Hank Horton on bass, and Ian Levine on Drums. Some jazz pieces included “Mean to Me”(Turk/Ahlert), “The Girl from Ipanema” (Atonio-Carlos Jobim), and “Seven Steps to Heaven” (Victor Feldman).
An interesting mix of classical and jazz gave the program depth. When asked about the repertoire, Chris McCourry said he enjoyed the musical diversity in “Martha Uncaged.” .
“It’s using so many different instruments for one piece is what really attracted me originally,
McCourry said.“It’s really a difficult thing to change between all the different instruments, so that was one challenge I really enjoyed.”
Brad Blackham shared how the pieces and composer were chosen.
“I just started researching this guy Stephenson and found he has tons of music including a lot of stuff for trumpet and piano,” Blackham said. “So once we realized how much stuff he had, we started thinking let’s just do a whole program on it since there is enough music there, and we had a lot of fun putting it together.”
Freshman Chloe Tritchka found the concert very interesting.
“I didn’t realize the Stevenson songs were going to be so modern but there was still a lot of structure and there were patterns and you could tell when the instruments were coming together,” said Tritchka. “I was also very impressed by Vince DiMartino’s performance. He is very good and gave me a new appreciation for the trumpet because he was able to control his sound very well and I thought that was pretty cool.”
Gabriel Powell, a freshman and student of Chris McCourry, said the concert was inspiring.
“So, being a jazz guy I am a bit partial,” said Powell. “It was very neat to hear the progression of going through all the different classical pieces through legacies which was really interesting to see all the different generations of students.”
Christopher Scheithauer, a senior at Hillsdale College and a student of Chris McCourry, said he enjoyed being a part of the night.
“It was really an amazing opportunity to play with Chris McCourry and Vince DiMartino,” said Scheithauer. “You don’t usually think of coming to a small liberal arts school like Hillsdale to get these opportunities to play with world class musicians, but you do. It is a great opportunity that was unexpected.”