School of Music hosts Brown Bag Concert

The Carnegie Mellon School of Music kicked off its Brown Bag Chamber Music Concert series last Tuesday with the one sound Carnegie Mellon students just can’t seem to get enough of: the wail of bagpipes. Students, faculty, and any others who want to listen to some top-notch music while snacking or eating their lunches are invited to the concerts, which will take place in McConomy Auditorium at noon every Tuesday through March 12.

The concerts are an informal and (best of all) free way to reap some of the benefits of being on a campus brimming with so much talent. The performance opened with a number of bagpipe tunes by master’s student in bagpipe performance Andrew Bova — everything from marches to folksy jigs rooted in tales of one-eyed wives, 200-year-old feuds, and a lot of characters with the prefix “Mc” attached to their surnames. The sound of the pipes managed to cut above the hustle and bustle of the Employment Opportunities Conference outside the auditorium, as numerous heads popped in to investigate the source of that piece of Scottish heritage Carnegie Mellon holds so dear.

To make a point of the diversity of music one can expect to hear at these concerts, the second of the two acts on the bill changed gears dramatically: After 20 minutes of bagpipes, the program continued with master’s student in violin performance Xiowan Wu and master’s student in viola performance Rui Li playing a Mozart duet. The beautiful and gentle notes flowed out of the strings seamlessly, filling the room with a sound so full that any kind of alien noise (such as me unzipping my backpack) immediately stood out.

It’s always amazing that some individuals can really rock out whilst playing classical violin. Although they never quite reached the same intensity as a 16-year-old in his garage, or the energy of a performer like Mick Jagger, these two master’s students swayed their bodies to the swirl of the music and became completely engrossed in it. That’s just the kind of thing that Carnegie Mellon students project: a mix of technical precision and good, old-fashioned passion for what they’re doing.

So if you’re looking to whet your musical whistle, support your classmates, or just listen to music while you chill and eat some lunch with friends, check out future events in the Brown Bag Chamber Music Concert series. There’s no guarantee that each performance will be as good as the first, but based on this strong opening, we can only expect good things.