An Evening with Strings, an event hosted Sunday by the music department at UW Oshkosh, commemorated the lives of loved ones lost through works played on cello and piano.
The performance was played by UWO faculty Katherine Decker on the cello and Eli Kalman on the piano and was dedicated to the recently deceased father of UWO music department faculty Yuliya Smead.
Decker began the performance with a brief dialogue explaining what the audience should expect from the show.
“Think of your loved ones tonight,” Decker said. “This is for them.”
According to Decker, the show experienced several last-minute changes in order to properly honor the lives of recently lost loved ones, including how to figure out the order in which they would play their pieces, differing from the order printed in the program for the evening.
“One of the things we have to choose as musicians is whether to postpone or to change in the moment,” Decker said. “When Yuliya told me, I just felt like it might be the right thing to do to give everyone a mental health break, a grief break, an emotional break of some kind.”
The hour-long concert consisted of works from Sergei Rachmaninoff and ended with Gabriel Faure’s Elegie Op. 24.
Main pieces were considered for the Sunday show, but Decker said the Elegie by Gabriel Faure seemed to be a sad yet fitting end to the concert.
UWO music student Jacob Kohlmeyer said he came expecting a string recital and was surprised by the change; however, he still thoroughly enjoyed the event.
“It was a really good performance,” Kohlmeyer said. “I mean Dr. Decker’s control over her sound was phenomenal.”
UWO music student and fellow piano player Hannah DCamp said she found Kalman’s performance stunning.
“He has such clarity in his articulation,” DCamp said. “Just wow…”
According to Decker, this concert served as a much-needed emotional outlet for those feeling grief or sadness.
“I just can’t tell you the amount of students this semester that have struggled so much that I know and have lost people or other things that have hit them hard emotionally or mentally,” Decker said. “We all needed this tonight.”
Decker said she recognizes the unique power music has as a healing tool. One of her main goals is to effect change by giving people music that can affect them.
“This is something we all respond to so viscerally, I mean goosebumps, tears, emotion,” Decker said. “We don’t do that enough for ourselves, that release.”