The piano program in the Caine College of the Arts (CCA) at Utah State University is celebrating the return of live music to campus with an outdoor concert Wednesday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m. on the USU Quad. The program, Rach Stars 2, features the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
“We chose to focus on Rachmaninoff’s music for its undeniable ability to reach a wide variety of listeners in a meaningful way,” Cahill Smith, assistant professor of piano in the CCA, said. “Rachmaninoff was among the greatest pianists of the 20th century, and his music assumes a thorough command of the instrument. To put on two different all-Rachmaninoff programs in one semester has been a challenging but rewarding task for our piano students and faculty.”
Smith notes that an early professional failure threw Rachmaninoff into a three-year depression, but the help of a doctor and new creative work restored him. Smith calls Rachmaninoff’s own personal story of struggle and triumph “inspiring and surprisingly fitting” as we celebrate the return of live music open to the public on campus.
Sophomore in the piano performance program, Haowen Chang, performed outdoors in the CCA tent for the first time this fall.
“During the pandemic, it has been very difficult as an artist to share music with others when we all need it most,” Chang said. “Although I’ve played in many concert halls, last fall was my first time performing outside. It surprised me how the music mixed so perfectly with the fresh air, and people who heard the sounds could walk over to enjoy the concert.”
Chang said the outdoor concert experience is magical for the performers and listeners. The piano department hopes to create this same atmosphere with next week’s concert.
As a graduate student in the piano performance program, Emma Musselman expressed that performance opportunities are extremely important. Musselman also performed in the tent last fall, which she called one of the most meaningful performance opportunities she has had since coming to USU.
“The casual and inviting setting reached many people who may never listen to a recording or watch a livestream,” Musselman said. “I know that our upcoming concert will inspire many people and bring desperately needed beauty and joy to the world, especially during this time.”
Rach Stars 2 is free and open to the public. Bring a favorite blanket or lawn chair and come early to make sure to get a good spot. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be held in the Daines Concert Hall and open to USU students, faculty and staff with ID. Updates will be posted on cca.usu.edu by 5 p.m., Monday, April 26. The concert will be broadcast on ccapresents.usu.edu. The Caine College of the Arts thanks the Daynes Music Company for generously providing two beautiful Steinway grand pianos for the event.