The Music Department presents Fridays at Four

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The Music Department presents Fridays at Four

Geoffrey Leach

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If you’re looking for something to do between your last class and an early dinner on Friday, start your weekend on a good note and go to Kimball Theatre. Fridays at Four provides a variety of free concerts for the campus and community.

The event happens every other week and showcases musicians from Whitman and the community, come of which come from as far away as Portland. The performers include guitarists, singers, dancers and violinists. The program is paid for with an established fund, and is managed by the Music Department.

According to Senior Lecturer of Music Jackie Wood, past president Thomas Cronin and his wife Tania Cronin instituted Fridays at Four at the turn of the century to provide entertaining concerts to student and the community.

“[They] wanted an informal series that people getting off work in the community and students getting ready for the weekend could come [to],” said Wood.

Wood has been running Fridays at Four for a few years. She recently began making changes to the concert program. Originally, more students participated and the concerts occurred about once a week.

Due to budget constraints and the desire for great quality performances, Wood changed the program to occur every other week. The reduction in performances allows the Music Department to bring highly talented musicians from a variety of locations.

“[The music department] wanted to control quality and to possibly build up a budget for bringing people in from … outside the area,” said Wood.

To continue the student performance aspect of Fridays at Four, the music department now offers the Workshop Recital Series. These recitals allow students to perform in a more relaxed environment. These workshops take place in between Friday at Four performances in Chism Recital Hall.

“[This] features students who are taking applied music … who aren’t necessarily music majors, [and] who don’t perform a lot. It’s like a less-exposed, tension-filled performance,” said Wood.

Fridays at Four provides a professional grade concert in an informal setting. Each concert is unique, varying in genre from classical to Broadway show tunes. They are all informal and surprisingly intimate. Some of this can be attributed to the setting: Kimball Auditorium maintains a proximity that neither Cordiner Hall nor Harper Joy Theatre can afford. The concerts are short –– 45 to 50 minutes. When I went last Friday, I was surprised at the high quality of the performance.

The performance on Sept. 25 was a classic jazz performance, featuring speedy sax runs with growling and altissimo notes, exciting piano playing and, of course, a bass solo.

The band consisted of Music Assistant Gary Hemenway on piano, Music Assistant Clark Bondy on alto, soprano and tenor saxophone, Assistant Professor of Music Doug Scarborough on electric bass and Daniel Cox on drums. They played six songs in a range of tempos.

As Hemenway stated midway through their performance, the musicians were playing “in the moment.”

The performance was amazing. The musicians’ fluidity and ease filled the room. Their energy resonated throughout the hall. The band started with a fast tempo song, blowing me away with their technical skills. Although the second song was much softer and slower, it allowed for the musicians to showcase their talents individually. The variation highlighted the musicians’ wide skill sets.

By the end I definitely felt a need to attend another Friday at Four concert. The Music Department’s focus on bringing quality musicians is apparent; coming soon is a guitar quartet from Portland State University that previously toured Europe. With the bar set high, I can’t wait to see what exciting things the other players offer for their concerts. Past president Cronin and his wife had their priorities straight in offering this program to Whitman for years to come.

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