Belshaw presents music, comedy and education on stage at Wayland

PLAINVIEW – Dr. Gary Belshaw, associate professor of piano pedagogy and composition at Wayland Baptist University, will headline a night of “light-hearted” music as Wayland presents “Gary Belshaw and Friends” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Harral Memorial Auditorium. 

Labeled as an evening of music with a bit of comedy, Dr. Belshaw said he uses the term “light-hearted” in a broad sense.

“I will be playing the only heavy and serious piece,” he said. “There will be several slower pieces of music, full of their own special beauty and significance.”

The evening will include a number of pieces performed by Belshaw’s “Friends,” including the premiere of a composition by Eric Rath, who teaches instrumental music education at Randall High School. Joe Vandiver, assistant professor of instrumental music at Wayland, will perform, and WBU graduate Andrea Turner, soprano, will sing a Brahms melody.

Dr. Belshaw will be playing five original pieces, including the premiere of his first formal music and comedy creation “Who Stole Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony?”

“I’ve done some improvisational comedy using some of the musical parodies in this before, but this one is much more than just improvisation,” Belshaw said. “I will perform seven or eight musical parodies, excerpts from famous compositions by classical music composers that have been adapted to include the famous four-note motive from Beethoven’s fifth symphony.”

Belshaw created “Who Stole Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” with the goals of advocating music education and examining music composition and improvisation. He hopes to turn the composition into a music education workshop that he can present at schools or to other public groups in hopes of furthering an interest in music education.

“A thousand years ago,” Belshaw explained, “the medieval academies identified seven areas of study that comprised a liberal arts education. Four of these were ranked in an upper division and three were included in a lower division. The four disciplines in the upper division were astronomy, geometry, arithmetic and music. Not until the American popular music explosion of the 20th century did music begin to lose its position as an academic discipline.”

Belshaw wants to use the piece to examine the genius that created one of the world’s most famous musical compositions, and in turn, foster a curiosity about music among students.

Admission to Thursday’s premiere performance is free and open to the public.