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First Tuesdays

Music Series Offers Students and Faculty Free Lunchtime Concerts

If you’re passing through the French House on certain Tuesday afternoons, you might be surprised to suddenly find yourself in the midst of a masterpiece.

On the first Tuesday of the month, faculty members and students alike can be found gathered in the Grand Salon to hear the bold harmonies of a Brahms piano quartet, the complex melodies of a Debussy sonata, or the vibrant chords of a Schubert fantasy.

“It’s a terrific opportunity to enjoy a lunch break,” said Gregory Sioles, Assistant Professor of Piano at LSU who started the First Tuesdays Music Series three years ago. “It’s a way to kind of change the entire atmosphere of your daily experience at LSU.  You have a moment to breathe and enjoy something entirely different.”

Sioles, a UCLA graduate and former Fulbright Scholar, has performed on three continents at such venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Purcell Room on London's South Bank, and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. He has taught at universities across the country, recorded two CDs on Centaur Records, and won numerous awards for piano performance.   

The classical music aficionado said that he got the idea for the music series the first time he visited the Grand Salon. 

“It struck me as kind of an old-fashioned room, one where you could cast yourself into the 19th century,” he said. “It’s just a great atmosphere that lends itself to performance of classical chamber music, which was meant to be heard in smaller rooms … You feel like a part of what’s going on, and that immediacy is great.”

With the help of Honors College Dean Nancy Clark, the lunchtime concert series began in the spring of 2008.  Ever since then, faculty members and students from the College of Music and Dramatic Arts perform a free public concert at noon on the first Tuesday of the month. 

Sioles said that developing an appreciation for classical music is important because the works of composers such as Beethoven or Bach represent some of the pinnacles of human achievement and art. 

“It’s like why we read Shakespeare — it tells us who we are, where we’re coming from, [and] what the big questions are in life,” he said. “Music can do very similar things … it engages our complete person, our complete being.  I think that’s what all great art does — it challenges us and yet it also nourishes us, in terms of our emotional life and our sense of imagination.”

The next concert, which will be held on October 4th, will feature songs by Debussy, a double concerto for cello and violin by Brahms, and tango music written by Argentina’s Astor Piazzolla. 

Sioles stressed that the First Tuesday concerts are for everyone, even those who know nothing about chamber music.

“Come to one of these concerts, and I dare you to not be completely captivated,” he said. “Music is a language, and you get to know it by becoming familiar with it — you don’t need a background in this to appreciate it. You feel what it’s about. It’s not highbrow, [and] it’s not elite … it’s a vibrant experience both for players and listeners.”

 

 

Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College

For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831