Down Art Avenue: JSU faculty presents unique spring concert
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
An encore was well deserved, and the audience was ready for it. But the concert was so complete in itself that an encore wasn’t needed. As singer and voice instructor Jennie Wall was saying to me as we left First United Methodist Church sanctuary Sunday afternoon, Teresa Stricklin, Jeremy Benson and Gail Steward, veteran musicians, had delivered a program that was like a delicious menu of flavors that needed no embellishment, a perfect steak that needed no salt, pepper or sauce.

“The music ran the gamut of emotions,” said Jennie, and I agreed. The program made us feel everything.

“An Afternoon of Music” in the Anniston church was a medley of poetry set to music. The emotions ranged from soothing to soulful, to startling to romantic. The music spoke the language of the most unusual things, making it different from most recitals: we heard the sounds of night; we heard a cat have its say, and what it’s like to see Broadway, and finally, longing for love.

All of the music was written by Dr. Steward. Each piece was entirely different from the one before. Stricklin was the storyteller and actress. Dr. Benson, flutist, performed three very melodic selections of “Suite for Flute and Piano” on an instrument that is expressive to begin with. It was a nice contrast from the singing, and on Final Feliz he delivered a feeling of tango and samba. Listening to this make us imagine dancers, perhaps in South America.

In fact, our imagination really got a workout at this concert.

Dr. Steward, in her composing, selected poems and wrote music to go with it. She began the project in 2006, and the most recent set of songs was written in 2012-2013.

Cat Walk drew both laughs and lots of applause. It was especially entertaining. In this, the cat talked about its life of leisure. (“I’m utterly spoiled, and I adore it!) Confessed Teresa, now the cat, who had no regrets about being self-centered. Everything here was real and amusing; from the addition to a boa being worn to represent Diva Cat to the raising of an eyebrow as the cat hears a robin in a tree close by, too close by. The bird may be singing its farewell song.

Of the Night, the final set of songs, is an ode to the peace and joy of evening as the silver moon is seen in the sky. Serene, that is, until we were put under the spell of “Kate” the Witch who made an appearance in a black cape. Kate is still talked about in Tennessee after she haunted a farmhouse and still cursed its occupants. Folklorists say she’s still about.

A personal welcome was given to the viewers by Dr. Steward, and Dr. Legare McIntosh announced the beginning of the Genesis Scholarship for students who are the first one in their immediate families to enroll in a university.

The program was held on a beautiful spring afternoon made lovelier with the unique concert. It is an example of the offerings of an active university that presents events like this that everyone should come to and enjoy.
© 2013