Lenten journey through music

Max Marcello | Staff Writer

March 30, 2023

Lent is a special time of reflection. It allows one to reorient attention toward self-care, self-reflection and self-expression. Traditionally, music has been a common way to satisfy all three.

On Tuesday, the Dukes ensemble put on a Music for Lent concert at the Mary Pappert School of Music.

Tuesday’s show marked both the largest repertoire of music in the series’ history and Music for Lent’s 10-year anniversary. At the concert, the Dukes performed the music from the baroque era (1600-1750), which was a style of music that was popular during the lifetime of Marquis Michel-Ange Duquesne De Menneville (1700-1758), the university’s namesake.

Orchestrating Tuesday’s performance was Paul Miller, the director of the Dukes ensemble and professor of musicianship at Mary Pappert.

Baroque pieces consisting of a solemn tone were interwoven with lighter ones to give the solemnity a greater sense of depth.

Compositions included as Partita No. 7 from Harmonia artifosa-arisoa by Heinrich Biber and Komm, as well as Jesu Komm by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Miller specifically selected these pieces to play to the ensemble’s current strengths, primarily composed with recorders, string instruments and a harpsichord. However, the final two pieces, both written by Bach, featured a vocal soloist, Abigail Hill.

Hill, a junior vocal music education major, performed the final two pieces in their native German. A vocalist since childhood, she has since expanded into piano playing.

“I really hope this experience gave students their first taste of Baroque music and take away from the stylistic elements and just exposure to the music. I hope they appreciated some of the deep emotional backgrounds, especially for this context, the season of Lent,” said Hill after the performance.

Students resonated with the emotional, Lenten undertones of the performance.

Jenni Steele, a senior music therapy major came to support friends Michele Kenyon, a viola d’amore player, and Jared Wolf who played the recorder.

“I found the concert really interesting and especially liked the duet between the viola and the bass,” Steele said.

In addition to ensuring that the selected pieces conveyed the somber Lenten tone, he also sought to accurately recreate a Baroque style concert through instrumental selection.

Miller swapped out the piano for a harpsichord. Metal violin strings were replaced with ones made of animal intestines, and musicians used bows and resins that were used on baroque instruments.

The Mary Pappert School is currently undertaking a fundraising campaign to purchase the harpsichord featured in Tuesday’s performance. So far, they have raised $698 of their $4,000 goal.

The reflective nature of the Lenten season gave the Dukes a unique opportunity to challenge the prevailing instant gratification and shortening attention spans.

“We live in a culture that is very focused on timescales of 15, 30, 60 seconds. Even heating up food in a microwave feels like a long time,” Miller said. “But I believe that there really is something to be gained, in longer spans of time, and sitting with other people and listening with other people. The community is something we miss.”