Last Friday night, Jan. 29, the music department pulled out all the stops during a faculty recital in Christ Chapel, featuring trumpet professor Chris McCourry and guest artist and organist Judy Kabodian.
McCourry and Kabodian’s performance presented a unique mixture of organ and trumpet with a program featuring mostly baroque music from composers such as Bach and Telemann. They concluded their concert with a 20th century piece which included a chorus composed of trumpets played by students Ethan Buehrer and James Wasylyshyn, and trombones played by Gregory Clement and Avery Miller.
When McCourry decided he wanted to perform trumpet alongside the chapel organ, the college reached out to Kabodian, who has played for churches in the greater Lansing area for 50 years, after receiving her degree in organ performance from Michigan State University.
“I felt like she could manipulate the instrument and get so much dynamic out of it that I did not know it was capable of,” junior Ellen Hancock said. “It was cool to watch them interact and communicate.”
McCourry is not only the director of the jazz ensembles Big Band and Little Band, but he is also a trumpet professor. He steps away from jazz once a year to put on a classically oriented performance.
“With as much teaching we do, and as much directing as he does and organizing, that’s hard to pull off,” James Holleman, chair of the music department said. “He challenges himself every year and brings out a very difficult repertoire.”
One of the pieces featured was Giuseppe Tartini’s “Concerto in Re” for trumpet and orchestra, with the orchestra part played by the organ. The piece was recorded by French trumpeter Maurice André in St. Martin in the Fields church in London, which Christ Chapel was modeled after. That recording was a deep source of inspiration for McCourry.
“Me and my buddy, we wore that thing out, and all that remains of it is in my studio is just the front cover; now that the record is gone, it’s just the front cover,” McCourry said.
McCourry’s performance was the first of the spring semester, and the ninth concert in the 2020 – 2021 season, which has been restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s nice to have live music with a live audience again,” said Professor James Holleman, chair of the music department. “It’s really nice to explore the acoustics of Christ Chapel with trumpet and organ.”