Faculty Showcase Series features harpischord duet

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Long before rock 'n' roll, country or even jazz and blues, there existed a style of music whose practitioners played exclusive gigs to the aristocracy of Europe. It is classified as "baroque," which predates even what is considered "classical" music.

On Sunday, as part of the Faculty Showcase Series, the music department of Southeast Missouri State University will present the harpsichord duo of Dr. Gary Miller and Mary Van Hoet-Miller in the Shuck Recital hall.

According to Miller, who is also the associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, Shuck Hall is "one of the finest chamber music halls around."

The recital hall was designed in the renovation of the seminary building on the River Campus.

The baroque period lasted from 1600 to 1750. The term "baroque" means elaborately decorated, and the music followed suit with complicated and intricate arrangements involving a variety of instruments. The harpsichord and the organ were the two keyboard instruments used, along with strings and woodwind instruments.

At first glance, a harpsichord is a "small piano" but where the strings of a piano are hit by hammers when a key is struck, harpsichord strings are plucked.

Miller said that when two harpsichords are played together "it's like good conversation."

While they both read music on the page, Miller and his wife also read each other's faces as they play, anticipating who will play what part.

"You never get to hear two harpsichords," Miller said.

The duo will play compositions from Johann Sebastian Bach, his sons J.C. Bach and W.F. Bach, Joseph Haydn and Francois Couperin.

The performance will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday in Shuck Recital Hall on the River Campus. Admission is $8 for the public, $7 for faculty and staff and $2 for Southeast Missouri State University students.


Go to semissourian.com to watch video of Gary Miller and Mary Van Hoet-Miller rehearsing.

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