Oct 182009
Authors: K.C. Fleming

Points of golden stage light played off of the cello bow drawn sonorously across heavy strings by CSU music studio teacher Barbara Thiem Thursday afternoon.

CSU assistant professor Joel Bacon moved his hands a little quicker over the keys of the world-renown Casavant Freres Organ. He glanced at Thiem over his shoulder every so often to make sure his tempo and style matched her’s even though the pair had rehearsed for their upcoming performance for more than a year.

The two had practiced in this manner, dozens of times, in preparation for tonight’s Virtuoso Series Concert in the University Center for the Arts’ Organ Recital Hall.

Beginning the evening with a Bach sonata, the duo will swap stylistic modes, moving into “In Croce,” a complicated Russian contemporary piece. Sofia Gubaidulina composed “In Croce,” meaning “on the cross,” in 1979 for either the organ or the bayan and the cello in duo.

Gubaidulina was known for her unusual instrumental pairing and opinion that music was a direct line to the divine, or God.

“One of the pieces (“In Croce”) is very demanding,” said Thiem, an internationally acclaimed cellist who teaches at CSU and has participated in research by the university’s Center for Biomedical Research in Music Therapy. “It’s very far out as far as color and technique.”

Thiem, who studied music in Cologne, Germany and later at Indiana University, started playing piano at age 5. She has spent 50 of the last 56 years in music developing her passion for the cello.

“The question was more which stringed instrument would I play,” she said. “I went to the music school and had myself tested, and they suggested that I play the cello.”

Joel Bacon, the Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair in Organ and Liturgical Studies, did not start learning the organ until his freshmen year of college at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

“I heard this exciting instrument that I had never heard before. Sometimes it could be loud and dramatic, sometimes almost inaudibly quiet,” Bacon said. “I just wanted to study it; I wanted to take lessons.”

Thiem and Bacon said that they are performing because of their mutual enjoyment in playing music and because of their shared interest in the coupling of the organ and the cello.

“(We) have been interested in the rather unusual pairing of the organ and the cello,” Bacon said. “So we wanted to present some of our favorite works with that combination for the concert.”

“Performing for music professors is a lot like how other professors do their scholarly activity,” he added.

Though the pair considers performing to be a professional duty, they simply enjoy it.

“I always enjoy what I do. I just enjoy playing music, and that’s why I play. I like communicating with an audience,” Thiem said.

Jennifer Clary, spokesperson for the School of the Arts, highly recommends that people attend the concert, lauding the UCA’s facilities.

“There really isn’t any other venue in Fort Collins producing this type of music listening experience,” Clary said in an e-mail to the Collegian. “The setting of the recital hall at the (UCA) is a wonderful place to hear and see a concert.”

Following the main event the public is invited to “Meet the Artists,” a reception that offers concert-goers the opportunity to speak to the artists, eat, drink and otherwise mingle.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Bacon said. “I think that sometimes people attending a recital would like the opportunity to maybe ask the performers a question or tell them what they thought about the music.”

Staff writer K.C. Fleming can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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