Balaton brass, beats, and treats

Mario Gaetano, percussionist, at the Balaton Chamber Brass concert of Feb. 18. Photo by Taylor Allison.

As the lights dimmed and a hush fell over a small recital hall, shiny brass and thundering percussion slowly filled a silent space with echoing musical conversation.

It is hard to describe the atmosphere at the Balaton Chamber Brass concert of Feb. 18. The four performers of the night – husband and wife Dan and Amy Cherry on trombone and trumpet, Lillian Pearson on piano, and Mario Gaetano as percussionist, managed to perform all of the pieces with a certain air that made for a relaxing watching experience.

Many members of the music department, faculty and students, not only listened but participated in the concert. That is not to say that there were more performers, but the performers and audience interacted with one another making the environment of the room friendly.

The first pieces were played by the trombone, bass and piano with a slower speed to them. Then Gaetano set up his percussion section, which took up a large portion of the stage. With the two brass performers hidden behind stage, he moved around his set hitting various xylophones and symbols while the two brass instruments echoed in response. This piece “Consortium” was meant to be a conversation piece between the three instruments.

“I heard a lot of positive comments from my students and from other faculty members – it seems that everyone really liked the piece by Dr. Gaetano,” performer and professor at Western Carolina University, Amy Cherry said. “It was such a fun piece to play because of the requirement to incorporate some movement and drama to the piece – and also play percussion instruments, which we are not used to!”

“Consortium” seemed to be the favorite of the night for many audience members.

“It was fun to listen to all the different percussion instruments,” Ashlii Tompson, freshman at Western Carolina and music appreciation student said. This was her first concert at WCU and she liked listening to all the different instruments as she explained the fact that they switched up the sounds.

The last set of music played was titled “Gershwin by George,” where different sections of pieces by George Gershwin were played. After every section, the Cherry’s engaged in conversation with the audience, asking if they knew the title of the section. Audience members would yell the title back at them, “Yes we know!” with the performers smiling at their attempts to get a correct answer. This induced a lot of laughter throughout the recital hall.

Amy Cherry said that other performances similar to this event are the Symphony Band concert on Feb. 26 and the Choral Ensemble winter concert on Feb. 27. The concerts were canceled on Feb. 25, for medical reasons.