Thursday concert series features a modern, folk music fusion

A combination of modern and folk music came from the music hall of Pierce College that filled the auditorium up to its last seat at the Thursday concert on March 27.

James Bergman, music adjunct and host, introduced the audience to their guests with a quick welcome.

“Please give an applause to Ruslan Biryukov playing the cello and James Lent playing the piano,” Bergman said. “We’re glad to have them both here with us today at Pierce.”

The duo, Biryukov and Lent, played with great respect and emotion for their instruments and their audience. The trio gave a dynamic performance.

Playing compositions by Alexander Arutiunian, Arif Melikov, David Popper, Fikret Amirov and Niccolo Paganini, the duo showed their diversity as musicians when they played two pieces of Armenian and Azerbaijan folk music. They played with great intensity and effortlessly, feeding off the audience’s astonished reaction to their intricate techniques as musicians.

Biryukov told a brief story about a composition written by David Popper called Tarantella. It was about a beautiful little girl who was bitten by a horrible tarantula and refused to die as she danced her way miraculously back to health. Dance became the antidote that saved her life.

Just before the duo began their piece, Biryukov made a humorous remark to the audience.

“If you ever get bitten by a horrible tarantula don’t dance, call 911.”

While ending on the final piece composed by Niccolo Paganini called “the Moses variations on one string,” Biryukov shared how musicians were so envious of the player that they once cut three strings from his violin. Eager to humiliate Paganini, they were taken back when he was able to finish his entire recital on one string. Winning over the audience and making those envious of himeven more jealous, he went home and wrote the composition.

“A piece for a violin and guitar with separate variations on the theme,” Biryukov said.

Lastly, Biryukov shared the differences in his instrument and the violin. He said that a cellist is a little more advanced than a violinist because violinists usually use four fingers and cellists use all five.”

“It was amazing,” Pierce student Manuel Quezada said. “His passion is different. Some people just perform a piece, but he (Biryukov) performs it with emotion and he adds another element than just performing. I can respect that a million percent. It was great.”

Closing the show, Bergman spoke to the audience with insight on how he met Biryukov at a recital and overheard him play.

“He entertained everyone under the sun like he’s been showing you. He played violin concertos, bass concertos, trumpet concertos, and he didn’t stop playing. I have a lot of respect for a fantastic player and great entertainer,” Bergman said.

The Pierce Student Concert is set to play next Thursday, April 3.  Admission is free and doors open at 12:45 p.m. in the Music Hall, Room 3400.