Tuesday, September 20, marked the first performance in The Colorado State University School of Music, Theater and Dance’s Classical Convergence Concert Series. The series brings in a variety of classical music performances, including solo artists and ensembles, in order to hone in on every aspect of the genre of classical music.
The Classical Convergence Concert Series will feature seven different artists this year, with performances taking place at the University Center for the Arts and the Lincoln Center. Among the performers are violinists, quartets, percussionists, vocal ensembles and even a flautist.
This series is largely focused on interactions between the community and the artists. Many of the artists provide hands-on classes at CSU and other various locations around the Poudre School District in Fort Collins. Sessions held at CSU are free to everyone and are not limited solely to students of the University.
To kick off the series’ performances was New York-based DUO 1804. The pair, Daniel Bernard Roumain, also known as DBR, and Val Jeanty, who calls herself VAL- INC, combine their individual styles of classical and electronic music, respectively, to create a revolutionarily and unique sound.
DBR picked up his first violin at the young age of five years old and has been playing and composing music ever since. He incorporates traditional classical sounds into his compositions but also brings in an electronic flare at times that adds something very different to his style of music. Additionally, DBR pays tribute to his Haitian background in his performances, making comments throughout about his roots, as well as bringing into his compositions some Haitian-inspired sounds.
Some notable accomplishments for DBR include having collaborated with artists such as Philip Glass and Lady GaGa, as well as having been nominated for an EMMY for Outstanding Musical Composition for the work he has done with ESPN.
Born in Haiti, DBR’s partner VAL-INC has had a love affair with music for quite some time now. She is the inventor of a style of music that she calls Afro- Electronica. It incorporates chants and electronic music all rooted in Haitian tradition to create a style that is unique and refreshing. She has been showcased at museums and music festivals around the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art and SaalFelden Music Festival in Austria.
Together, DBR and VAL-INC have a very eclectic sound, making their performance quite engaging and entertaining. From the moment they walked on stage, it was evident that both musicians have a true passion for what they create.
The concert began with a solo piece from DBR, followed by multiple compositions performed by the pair and a solo from VAL-INC. The stage had a rather simple set-up with just a few speakers, a microphone, stool and VAL-INC’s turn tables. There was no need for extravagant stage decorations as the music spoke for itself.
The audience seemed to have just as much of an appreciation for the music as did the artists. After DUO 1804 finished performing their first big piece, there was a three second pause in which the audience was taking in the profound composition. Following the pause came a mixture of loud cheering and applauding from the crowd.
Another aspect of DUO 1804’s performance that made them unique was their focus on engaging the audience. On multiple occasions throughout the concert, DBR would speak to the audience about different topics. Several times during the concert, he shared information about his young son, Haitian born mother and recently deceased father. At one point during the night, DBR even encouraged the audience to come join him on stage and dance. Though nobody took him up on his offer to share the stage, this gesture alone helped make the crowd feel that much more connected to the performers.
At the conclusion of the concert, the duo opened up the floor to the audience, urging them to ask any questions that came to mind, something that not very many artists can say that they do.
In addition, photographs and videos of the show were encouraged by DBR and VAL-INC throughout their performance. Their goal with this was to be able to share their music with as many people as possible and enable the spreading of their music’s message.
Overall, the concert was a great experience. Rather than have a focus on audience size or profit from the night, it was refreshing to see musicians focused solely on the music and connection with the audience.