When first approached about attending a master class, my initial thought was of something in regard to an advanced class with many students in attendance. My initial thought was slightly off, I came to find out that a real master class was given to students by an expert, of a particular discipline.
The Music Department at Millersville University held their very own piano master class at McComsey’s Ford Atrium, Wednesday Feb. 17 that featured guest artist Diane Walsh, of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra.
Following a brief introduction of the program’s purpose, the students being disciplined where asked to perform, with Bryant Croyle being first up. His musical piece titled, “Winter Wind,” prompted Croyle to perform with compelling emotion. Walsh, very pleased with his performance, encouraged Bryant to add a little more life to the piece.
“I am a very efficient practicer, yet I hate to practice,” was Walsh said prior to adding her own style to the Croyle’s piece, “You want to jump out like a tiger.” It was as if she zeroed in with detail on the artist’s problem spots. Her musical intelligence was beneficial to the aspiring artists, helping them in the long run.
The next performer was Zachery Smith, who performed the piece, “Jeux d’Eau” by Maurice Ravel. Walsh seemed to focus more on bringing out the meaning to this piece then anything since her interpretation dealt with how waters were always in motion. She wanted Smith to add “more sparkle to it”, while acquiring a natural sound.
The third contender under observation was Paulino Contreras who performed the piece “Baliata,” was identified to be a Mexican ballad similar to a folk song. Contreras had devotion and intensity during his performance, however, Walsh thought that he should balance that intensity with relaxation in terms of the piece’s tone.
The last performer was Tyler Riegal, who performed one of the most difficult pieces of the afternoon according to Walsh. The piece “Paganini Variations,” was originally an orchestra piece that included a playful melody. Walsh had suggested that Riegal should accent the chaos toward the end of the piece, to bring out a strong closure.
The master class was made possible by the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra; the Development office; and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as the Music Department. As a whole, all four student performers did an exceptional job, and when it came to Walsh’s critique, they incorporated her suggestions without any hesitation. It’s safe to say that the benefits of a master class big or small, is quite the advantage when it comes to future performances.