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Raul Munguia, professor at music, and Denissa Rivas, professor at music, perform their own piece at Bicknell on Friday, Aug. 9. Faculty, staff, students and community members were present during the Duo Capriccioso chamber music. Salehin Mahbub photo-editor

PSU professors perform as part of new chamber ensemble

Professors of music Raul Munguia and Denissa Rivas have been performing together for around 25 years, but now, they’ve begun a new musical adventure. 

Duo Capriccioso, made up of Raul Munguia on violin, Denissa Rivas on flute, and Robert Endsor on piano, gave a concert on Friday, August 9 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. The chamber ensemble played a variety of repertoire, including pieces by Mozart and Boehm, as well as Pittsburg composers John Hartmann and Barbara York. The concert featured both full ensemble music between the three of them and also solo performances. 

“For us, it’s been an affair of 25 years,” said Munguia. “Some of these pieces we started playing when we first met, and others were written later and even written for us.” 

Their collaborative pianist Endsor is well known in the area as an accompanist and jazz pianist, and he teaches piano as an adjunct faculty member at Missouri Southern State University. 

“It’s also a matter of choosing the right pianist as well, because even though we call ourselves a duo, we’re actually a trio,” Munguia said. 

Munguia said the repertoire was selected very carefully on the basis of “creating variety.” 

“We chose a lot of pieces based on the concept of ‘concert duets,” Munguia said. “It’s very challenging playing two treble instruments… Mozart is just pure and clean, and the harmony needs to be just that. If you make a mistake, it’s so obvious… Luckily, we live together so the practicing was easy.” 

Munguia and Rivas have been living and teaching in Pittsburg for seven years and both of their sons, Daniel and Andres, attend classes at Pittsburg State University. 

“It’s (the formation of Duo Capriccioso) just like any other ensemble,” Munguia said. “You play with these people for so many years and eventually, you start freelancing together, and for us, it just works out… It’s not my recital, it’s not her recital. It’s our recital.” 

Rivas said she had a very specific way of preparing the pieces to be played on the concert. She practiced every piece standing up and made sure she could play it “with finesse.” Then, she prepared technical sections at a slower speed. 

“You practice and you practice and prepare yourself, and then, you add in the pianist and it gets a little tricky,” Rivas said. “You think you’re doing something the right way and someone else has a way of doing it.” 

Rivas also encouraged students to come to more concerts by Duo Capriccioso to be held throughout the year and to experience the “creative nature” of music. 

“When you’re a classical musician, there are so many careers and you can create more,” Rivas said. “All of the experience students are acquiring… they have something to say. You can pool all that experience and create something really wonderful.” 

Duo Capriccioso has plans to perform during the school year as well as in the region and internationally, including a tour in Munguia and Rivas’ native county Honduras. 

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