FSU faculty members headline Midday Performance

FSU faculty members held the semester’s final installment of the Midday Performance Series in the Ecumenical Center on Monday.

This differed from the norm of inviting outside musicians and musical groups to perform at FSU, and instead showcased some of the talent that can be found right here on campus.

The first musician to perform was Carl Hackanson, professor of geography and environmental science.

Armed only with an acoustic guitar and microphone, Hackanson displayed his proficiency of bluesgrass musicianship with classics such as Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad,” as well as a couple songs from his own album, “Jake Sessions.”

“Nobody seemed to know me, everyone just passed me by,” Hackanson sang in a deep, gravelly voice against twangy guitar riffs.

Contrarily, many students and other faculty chose not to pass this performance by and the response to Hackanson from the packed room was electric.

The next piece performed by professors Christian Gentry and Samuel Witt sought to present a very different side of the musical creative process than traditional instruments and forms of genre would supply.

The entire performance was a reading of one of Witt’s poems as the vocals were mixed and electronically distorted by Gentry in real time.

According to Gentry, the whole point was to put two worlds together that don’t normally coexist.

“This happened on a whim. It’s poetry performative. How can I sculpt the voice in real time? It’s a powerful instrument,” he said.

Gentry distorted Witt’s voice and layered it with electronic synth to create an eerier and futuristic sound collage out of the emotional immediacy of Witt’s stanzas.

“When people speak of futureless language, they put the future on equal footing with the present,” Witt said as layers of distortion built up until his voice became a singular wall of noise.

Sophomore Cam Raia was completely taken by the ingenuity of Gentry and Witt’s performative poetry.

“The piece was extraordinary. The haunting poem was only made stronger by Gentry’s filtering and doctoring signal. It was absolutely arresting,” Raia said.

The final performance of the show was a jazz duet by Bruce Mattson and Doug Leaffer of the McAuliffe Center.

Mattson performed on piano as Leaffer juggled a tenor saxophone and Cuban drums, depending on the number.

The saxophone was an antique from 1950’s Paris that Leaffer joked had seen both “the years and the mileage.”

“The fact that it has lost its lacquer gives it a warmer, darker sound,” Leaffer said.

The duo showcased a range of jazz classics from Crescent City Swagger’s “Your Uncle’s Monkey” to Sony Rollins’ “St. Thomas.”

Mattson’s piano transitions between songs flowed well as the notes broke up into slower, drawling jazz numbers, accentuated by Leaffer’s eclectic saxophone.

Although the Midday Performance came to a close without vocals, Mattson and Leaffer managed to imbue the closing act with a warmth and presence that spoke well for the entire assembly of faculty performers.

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