A piano and a French horn are not instruments normally played together for duet pieces, yet it was that blend of music that arose in the MMC Theater on Wednesday, Sept. 9.
Kristen D. Sienkiewicz, an APSU professor of Music Theory I and II and other classes, went on stage with New York piano composer Thomas Weaver that evening to perform a selection of pieces designed for a piano and French horn duet.
The pieces ranged from Karl Czerny’s “Andante e Polacca” from the early 1800s to “Nocturne” by Gunther Schuller, written in the 20th century. They varied widely in composition as well as origin, from the solemn to the light-hearted to the tense and dynamic. Also featured was an original piece composed by Weaver himself, which added a trumpet to the mix.
Weaver said he composed the piece “Indigo” about a month before the recital.
“I played at a concert last summer, a horn, trumpet, and piano piece,” Weaver said. “I wanted to write something different.”
Weaver described the piece as more about the “colors of brass instruments and pianos.”
Sienkiewicz said she has been playing the French horn for roughly 23 years.
Her conductor wanted “the girls to play ‘boy’ instruments, and the boys to play ‘girl’ instruments.” Sienkiewicz added, “I wanted to play the tuba, but my mom convinced me to play the French horn instead. I guess you could say it was love at first sight.”
It has been 16 years since Weaver began playing the piano.
“I started really wanting to play the keyboard when I was about four,” Weaver said. “I finally started taking lessons when I was eight.”
In terms of creating compositions, Weaver compared it to writing an essay.
“I probably use about 10 percent of what I actually compose.” He said he starts with “one small idea, like an opening sound or series of notes. By picking apart those notes, I see different combinations I can create with those notes.”
It’s through these combinations that his pieces are born. Weaver wants his pieces to “have musicality and make the performance enjoyable” for everyone who attends.
The most important part of playing the French horn, according to Sienkiewicz, is having fun.
“That’s always the goal. Everyone’s going to make mistakes. I want my audience to have an emotional performance,” said Sienkiewicz.
Sienkiewicz would like to thank APSU for being so supportive.
“There are so many wonderful things going on around campus,” she said. “So often, we stick to our own, small corners, we forget about everything else that we can get involved in.”
Weaver shared similar sentiments.
“Thank you for being so welcoming,” Weaver said. “It’s been fun to play for you guys.”
Weaver currently resides in New York, and his works have been performed all over the country, and have even travelled overseas to places like Germany. He currently serves on the faculty of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and the Fort Lee School of Music in New Jersey.