By Madie Xing
Seniors Ronald Pruitt and Kevin Whitman showcased their eloquent talent on Thursday, March 27, at Mayo Concert Hall as part of the spring semester’s Senior Music Recitals.
The night opened with the blues arrangement, “Blues for Alice” by Charlie Parker, with Pruitt on baritone saxophone, which was included in the five-part “Supersax” arrangement featuring two altos and two tenors. Pruitt led the piece on the baritone with the other saxophones harmonizing effortlessly. The drums and bass provided an easy-going bass line during Pruitt’s dense solo, whilst the piano gave subtle highlights.
Whitman performed a timpani solo piece “Raga No.1” by William Cahn, which had a slow build up with sudden crescendos and an enchanting overlap of rhythms. The manipulation of the pitch and phrases were consistent to the Hindustani form that inspired the piece.
Pruitt returned to the stage to perform “Lilith,” which consisted of five movements, all with discordant undertones. The piece was highly expressive with abstract and airy notes. The piano provided dark, sharp accents to the edgy but subdued saxophone phrases. Pruitt was accompanied by Kathleen Shanklin on piano.
Whitman’s performance of Andy Akiho’s “Stop Speaking” had the audience intrigued. Whitman interacted the snare drum by adapting and mimicking beats with the a recording of a woman’s voice, which was characterized by uneven frequencies. Whitman displayed extreme skill and control to create a very entertaining performance.
The quartet cymbal arrangement “Double Espresso,” composed by Whitman himself, comprised of muted beats that expanded into rapid taps. A range of tools were used to create depth of sound — drumsticks, triangle beaters, fingertips and even a bass bow all created contrasting tempos and raw layers with precise dynamics.
Pruitt took on Takashi Yoshimatsu’s “Fuzzy Bird Sonata,” which featured three diverse movements of energetic and transient saxophone, layered with demure piano gestures. The piece alluded to many bird-like sounds, which fashioned a harmonious and lyrical atmosphere.
Under a spotlight, Whitman impressed the audience with “Reflections on the Nature of Water” by Jacob Druckman. Great technical skill was matched with a fusion of tension and pulsating beats, which corresponded to water and its differing nature. The audience was left mesmerised by the incredible mood that Whitman was able to create on the marimba.
“A great program,” junior music education major Manny Martinez said. “They both have worked so hard and put their hearts into it tonight.”
The final piece of the night saw Pruitt and Whitman collaborate with Michael Taylor’s “Gone” — the saxophone was a contrast of raspy notes with smooth, gentle and warm tones. The marimba pierced through the dominant alto saxophone at times with dreamy textures, whilst also providing that saxophone with a constant bass line to answer to.
“The performance was absolutely fantastic, versatile and a whole new level,” senior music education major Chelsea Cortese said. “They were total professionals — just amazing.”