Mark Anthony Pair, piano artist in residence at Wayland Baptist University, will present a piano concert titled “Piano Music of Maurice Ravel” on April 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Harral Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public.
Known for his concerts focusing on the work of one composer, Pair has chosen Ravel (1875-1937), a French Impressionist composer, for his April concert. He will perform 20 compositions, with the first half of his program consisting of two suites, “Le Tombeau de Couperin” and “Mirours.” The second half will feature pieces including “Sonatine,” “Pavane,” and “Meneut sur le nom d’Haydn.” The concert will last approximately two hours.
A Frenchman, Ravel was also a Basque, a nomadic people who herd and raise sheep in one locale, though he likely never lived among those who worked with sheep. Ravel’s musical innovations were superfluous in that they were creations of an art known as impressionism, which flourished particularly in France around the turn of the twentieth century.
A prominent piano composer, Ravel also composed for orchestral instruments and took many of his choice compositions for piano and arranged them for orchestra. His color tonality exhibited such nuances that intrigued listeners and captivated imaginations.
Ravel preferred purism as a composer, not wishing any performer of his works to overplay the music as was common in the Romantic era. His piano skills require a strenuous amount of skill and effort to the meet the creative challenges.
Ravel considered his impressionistic artwork in music as having neoclassic and neobaroque stylistic features, and he contributed greatly to the idioms of modern jazz.
“His chords of the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth were used in such a breath-taking manner which even could surpass those harmonies found in jazz,” Pair said. “It is impossible to evade the emotional expression which is so prevalent in his contouring melodic lines pitted against such modal harmonies and intricate rhythms as only Ravel could pen on manuscript paper.”
Pair was associate professor of music at Wayland for 36 years before retiring in 2002. He was named Piano Artist in Residence thereafter, the first person to be granted such a title. He has performed regular concerts annually on the WBU campus and as a guest performer at other universities and events. He has held memberships in such professional organizations as Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, The National Piano Guild, Texas Music Educators Association and the American Scriabin Society. Pair is one of only a few pianists who have performed all ten sonatas of Scriabin, a Russian modern composer.