An Afternoon of Beautiful Music

I left Tom Brady and the Patriots with their halftime lead to hear how a crowd of UMass Lowell music students would interpret some of my favorite music.  And now, I’m just back from a beautiful and complex performance of music of The Beatles, presented by the UMass Lowell Dept of Music, featuring the Piano Ensemble with the Freshman Chorus. More than 200 people attended “A Bach-Beatles Fest!” in Durgin Concert Hall. Professors Meg Ruby and Tom Malone directed the piano students and singers, respectively. The renderings of now-familiar songs were surprising, imaginative, and evocative. Tom Malone said classical music is music that retains its freshness through generations, and The Beatles qualify as extraordinary musicians of their time and beyond. Mashing up Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starr with Bach, Philip Glass, and others, including their own improvisations, the piano students produced moving versions of works central to The Beatles’ catalog and deep album cuts, from “A Day in the Life” and “Flying” to “Michelle” and “Blackbird.” Concert pianos, synthesizers, electric organs, keyboards, hand-strummed piano wires, computers rigged with audio components—all these traditional and inventive music-making items were in play. With the vibrant chorus, 90 strong, accompanied by a versatile and spunky house band, Tom Malone arranged seven pieces from the 1967 “Sgt. Pepper” recording, considered the first concept album of rock music. He chose favorites like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” along with lesser heard works like the sitar-colored “Within You, Without You” and bouncy “Getting Better.” Thanks to all who helped bring this to the stage this afternoon.

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