The music department invited professional pianist Sarah Cahill to teach a master music class on Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Recital Hall.

Students performed various pieces of music to which Cahill gave feedback.

“I was very excited to be able to bring Ms. Cahill here because she has such vast and diverse experience in the music industry,” said Nadia Shpachenko, professor of music and organizer of the event. “I thought she would be a great person for students to learn from and get inspired by.”

Cahill watches Tom Flaherty’s piece “Time’s Up” performed, which features pianos, toy pianos and percussion. (Taylor A. Boomsma | The Poly Post

Cahill has extensive experience in the music industry. Aside from hosting her own radio show, she is on the faculty of San Francisco Conservatory and works closely with different composers and musicologists and has released more than 20 albums.

After introducing the guest teacher, Shpachenko, along with several students, got up to perform the first piece, Tom Flaherty’s “Time’s Up.”

“Time’s Up” was performed by 10 musicians playing on two pianos, a toy piano and percussion.

This piece began with rolling a small ball across the open piano strings, which gave off a chilling, drawn-out twanging sound while a low, dissonant note rang out metronomically.

Another student began plucking the piano strings.

A flurry of six hands to each piano playing discordant notes, percussion banging hollow plastic tubes on a chair, a tinkling of a child’s piano and odd tubey things waved in the air giving off a specific note, all contributed to this composition.

It was an unusual piece of music, but its complexity was intriguing and the execution was skillfully done.

After the piece ended, Cahill joined the students and their professor on stage to offer feedback and work through some measures she thought could be improved.

Her main point of advice was to work on the performance of the piece, which she deemed an important element of this composition.

The dissonance comes for the underlying inspiration of this piece, which came from the aftermath of the Florida school shooting.

“It’s about this moment in time that we’re in,” Cahill said. “We’re in a crisis.”

The second piece was called “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin.

It was performed by two advanced piano students, Jeffrey Sweede and Michael Tran.

This piece was playful, intense and held a very jazz-like essence.

Technically it was astounding and Cahill had only to say that musicality was something to work on.

The piece being jazzy, she suggested it have more of an improvisatory sound to it, as opposed to a metronomic approach.

Third, “Scenes of Ballet” by Nimrod Borenstein was played by Shpachenko, Marissa Aronson, Tran and Long Yu.

Played on only two pianos, the four musicians skillfully navigated through the piece, playfully passing the melody between them.

While she had no technical feedback, Cahill suggested that, with all the complexities of the composition, they find out when the important melodies are prominent and really bring them out with more emphasis.

Fourth, “Prelude No. 1” by George Gershwin was performed by student soloist Sophia Lin.

Cahill offered a few pieces of advice.

She continued to say that the composer of this piece wanted more of a contrast between the melody and the accompaniment. Practically speaking, that meant more of a balance between the right and left hand.

The final piece performed was Franz Schubert’s “Fantasia in F minor.”

This piece was played as a duet by Melinda Hovsepian and Joshua Tessler.

With a lot going on the piece, Cahill offered that the students figure out the important sections to be brought out with more emphasis. She also suggested they add their own interpretation and musicality.

After the performance, students in the audience were able to ask questions about her career and radio show she hosts.

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