JSU News Bureau
Dr. Wendy Faughn says the only exposure to piano music she had while
growing up in West Virginia was enjoying an easy listening station on
the radio. When she heard the melodious runs and glides of the piano,
even as early as age four, she knew that she wanted to play. As she
grew older, she was able to achieve her goal. Two years ago, she was
hired as an assistant professor of music at the David L. Walters Department
of Music at Jacksonville State University where she teaches piano.
Love for the piano, too, has allowed her to travel. She recently returned
from Varna, Bulgaria, which is on the Black Sea, where she stayed for
about ten days and took part in the second annual Varna International
Master Class in Piano. She stayed in an apartment that allowed her to
walk to the music conservatory and to various shops and restaurants
near the beach.
“It was very beautiful,” she said and pointed to a handful of pictures
spread out on her desk . “I was able to travel, too, into the nearby
city of Nessabar, which was Odessa during Biblical times. It is an ancient
city with twenty-seven churches.”
classes allow pianists to perform for a teacher who listens then critiques
them while students, teachers, and piano-music lovers sit in and listen
to improve their own performances and understanding of music – kind
of like an American Idol judge would do, only more high brow.
“The audience is there to learn,” said Dr. Faughn. “Master classes can
have as few as ten or as many as two hundred listeners and are often
taught by a concert pianist the day after his/her performance.”
The person who critiques the student’s performance, usually a well-known
performer or instructor, discusses how the particular piece of music
should be performed, describing aspects of style and other elements
such as historical context. He or she might also comment on physical
technique, such as the particular use of the arms, hands, or wrists
in a passage. Another area for discussion might be the political influences
that affect a certain style of music. This interchange between performer,
teacher, and students examines piano music and pianists much more closely
than the average listener would understand. The atmosphere surrounding
the entire event is one Dr. Faughn loves.
“I went as an auditor,” she said. “I went to refresh myself and to hear
a high level of playing.”
Twenty-three pianists took part in the event, some from Bulgaria, South
Korea, and the United States. These countries, plus Russia, have respected,
well-developed educational programs for pianists.
Dr. Faughn renewed her friendship with musician John Kenneth Adams who
was her professor when she studied while a student at the University
of South Carolina in Columbia. It was not her first master class, though,
but this one allowed her to observe how musical connections are made
between countries. Many western countries currently have a special interest
in the previously communist countries, such as Bulgaria, because restrictions
there for many years prevented them from sharing innovations in the
world of piano. Also, the communist countries have a keen interest in
what is happening throughout the United States and in other countries
that are known for their high level of piano performance.
Dr. Faughn enjoys both the teaching and performing aspects of piano.
She performed the premiere of “Piano Concerto” by Julia Scott Carey
on May 15 with the Etowah Youth Symphony Orchestra. She likes to play
the classics, such as Bach, Beethovan and Brahms, and she likes music
literature from the contemporary era, such as music composed by Francis
Poulenc of France.
In the past, Dr. Faughn’s musical connections and interest in the world
of piano has allowed her to also travel to Italy, Sweden, Korea, France,
Germany, Greece, and Holland.
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