By Payne Ray
Staff writer

The University of West Florida chamber ensemble performed at Old Christ Church Wednesday at noon to seats packed with an engaged audience.

The performance was part of a monthly series of monthly events which highlight the performers through their collaborative development.

“I feel like the chamber class is an amazing way for young students to learn how to collaborate,” vocalist Morgan Seip said.

According to Seip, the performances are an excellent showing of each performer’s development throughout the class.

Seip performed two scheduled pieces during the event, but was called on for a third piece, “Mandolin,” which she performed on the spot. She attributes her success in part to the atmosphere, and to the great collaborative skills developed by her fellow performers.

The performers stood proudly side by side after a successful recital. (Photo by Payne Ray)

The audience appeared enraptured during each piece performed, and Seip said that those gathered seemed engaged in a way that’s rare to see.

“It pushes you to be the best you can be,” Seip said.

Nate McManus, a trumpeter with the ensemble, offered a similar perspective of the performance.

The conclusion of one performance by Margaret Duke and Daniel Thomas, a violist and pianist, respectively, brought the church to a standing ovation in the middle of the day’s event.

According to McManus, it’s rare to see an audience brought to its feet prior to the finale. Seeing one mid-recital demonstrated visually the power of the performance.

The chamber music class is made up of several students performing on their primary instruments as well as several that they have learned outside of class or have picked up as a secondary study.

McManus explained that many of the performers were playing instruments which they weren’t studying for their majors.

Saxophonist Jonathan Swain studies percussion at UWF, and learned much of his saxophone skills on his own, with tips from fellow students.

McManus studies trumpet, but played the guitar in the recital’s finale, Johnny Mercer’s “Autumn Leaves.”

“I think all except one of us were playing secondary instruments in that one,” McManus said.

Their monthly recitals are a performance outlet for their weekly meetings where they perform in front of each other in different collaborative groups.

“It’s a great place to be able to practice in front of an audience,” McManus said.

Thomas also commented on the effort put in by the students.

“You learn how to be in sync with the person or people you play with,” he said, referring to the weeks of practice and performance leading up to each recital.

The chamber music class is taught by Hedi Solanki-Rubardt, a long-time professor at UWF who primarily instructs students in piano performance. She offers the class every semester and organizes for the church to host the recitals.

McManus has been in the class since the start of the fall semester and credits it with helping him learn to relax while performing in recital settings.

“It really helps take the edge off classical playing,” McManus said.

There is one more recital in the performance series for spring 2018. Event details will be posted on the Center for Fine and Performing Arts Facebook page as the date approaches.