Home / Campus Life / Black Oak Ensemble presents “From Bach to Tango” 
The Black Oak Ensemble's string trio Desiree Ruhstrat, Aurelien FOrt Pederzoli, and David Cunliffe play in the McCray Recital Hall for the first SMCS performance of the season on Sept. 9. The trio's members are also from the Grammy-nominated music groups, the Lincoln Trio and the Spektral Quartet. Caleb Oswell

Black Oak Ensemble presents “From Bach to Tango” 

Curtis Meyer reporter 

The Solo and Chamber Series kicked off with the first concert of this season, featuring the Black Oak ensemble.  

“It’s probably one of my favorite Solo and Chambers Series that I’ve come (to),” said Kassidy Toomay, senior in music education. 

Black Oak Ensemble is a trio, comprised of a violin, viola and a cello. Desiree Ruhstrat, Aurelien Fort Pederzoli, and David Cunliffe are the three members. Having just released a new CD, Avant Forage, in July, they are a world-renowned group of musicians. 

“I thought the performance was wonderful, it’s not often you get to hear trios like them, so it was really pleasant to see them,” said Jaben Parnell senior in music education. 

The program featured a variety of genres and styles. It presented a mix of what a string trio could play.  

The performance started with one from the Goldberg Variations by Bach, named after one of his students that played this music to help lull his mentor to sleep. From there they moved on to Tomasi.  

Henri Tomasi was a French composer and conductor during the early Twentieth Century. He is mostly known for his works featuring brass, but he also composed many smaller pieces for a popular French trio at the time. 

Following Tomasi, the trio played Beethoven. At the age of seven, Beethoven gave his first performance and was often known as the second Mozart. 

After Beethoven, they played some works by Jean Cras, a French admiral who wrote most of his pieces while in war conditions or on the sea.  

Once Cras had concluded, the Black Oak Trio paused for intermission, after announcing a change to the program. The original had called for Gustave Samazeuilh, another French artist from the early 20s. Instead, they played the works of Astor Piazzolla. Piazzolla is famous for creating neuvo tango, or as violaist Pederzoli called it, “…tango you can’t dance too.”  

“Astor Piazzolla is one of my favorite composers, and I’m actually playing some of his stuff for my senior recital, so hearing more of the strings side of it and those different compositions was great,” Toomay said. 

Following this was the works of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, featuring music from an opera titled “Danza Espanola,” the music was inspired by Romani music. The opera is about a young Roma girl in love with a wealthy young man. The man has an engagement to someone of his own social class, and when the Roma girl learns this, she is furious and crashes the wedding.  

The final piece that they performed were the works of little-known Jewish composers during the time of the Holocaust. Featured in Black Oak’s first CD, Silenced Voices, of the 6 composers only 1 survived. Prior to this most of the music was lost, hidden in the attics of family members and friends. The composer, Geza Frid, was the only one to survive the war. Born and raised in Hungary, he escaped the antisemitic policies and moved to the Netherlands. 

“It’s not often we get to hear ourselves sound so beautifully, thanks for your support of us and of the Chamber Series.” Said violinist Ruhstrat. 

The next Solo and Chamber Series concert will be held Oct. 14th, featuring organist Joseph Adam. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office in the Weede and are free for all Pitt State students.  

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