The performance hall in the Covington center at Radford rarely finds a moment of rest. A quick glance at any open space around campus and you will find an abundance of flyers promoting all kinds of events there for this semester and the next. One of the most recent artists to take the stage was music education major and trumpeter George Saunders III performing his senior recital.
A sharply dressed Saunders took the stage along with piano accompanist Erica Sypes. After a quick bow to acknowledge their welcoming applause, they hopped right into the music with a piece by Maurice C. Whitney titled “Concertino”.
Saunders moved effortlessly through a spry melody in the first movement as the piano danced along notes subtly behind him. Though both Saunders and Sypes were precise with their melodies, they seemed to work against each other a few times when trying to keep rhythm.
By the time the bluesy second movement came around Saunders and Sypes had found their groove. This movement quickly established itself as captivating and emotional, allowing Saunders to flex his tonal ability by incorporating two different types of mutes at various points.
As the night moved on Saunders continued to deliver beautiful and captivating music. In addition to his well deserved confidence on trumpet, he also was able to show his proficiency in similar instruments such as the flugelhorn and cornet. This display of instrument versatility kept the audience on their feet and kept a novelty that’s not often found in similar shows.
Trading piano and trumpet duets for a full brass quintet, the second half of the performance would show a stark change in tone. Though there were still intimate and beautiful moments, they predominantly shifted towards more whimsical and light hearted ones. Timid at first, the quintet quickly found their feet in their first piece together which was a Sonata by Samuel Schidt.
Though the spotlight bounced around a few times between players, Saunders frequently led their charge through articulate runs and soaring phrases. The most exciting moment of the night came in the quintet’s final piece together, titled “ Carmen Fantasia” by Georges Bizet. The group operated flawlessly, their synchronicity never more apparent as they moved through tempo changes. Saunders once again led them through a massive crescendo which culminated in a explosive half tempo moment of unity. The crowd responded with much applause as the quintet left the stage.
The last scheduled piece of the evening was the appropriately titled “Bugler’s Holiday” by Leroy Anderson. Saunders took the stage once again, though this time accompanied by two more trumpeters. The three artists needed no time to get acquainted, moving effortlessly through intricate runs reminiscent, at times, of a mariachi band. Through flawless harmonies and staccato acrobatics, the trio successfully dazzled the audience one last time before leaving the stage.
Applause grew into a standing ovation before Saunders and friends came out for an encore. The statuesque postures of the evening were thrown to the side as each performer took on a fighting stance with their instruments. The crowd laughed as the composition was immediately recognized as the theme song to Pokemon. Both Saunders and the audience were all smiles when the hall erupted with one more applause and standing ovation to close out the night.