Norman Wika, the SVSU director of bands, performed various pieces for his faculty recital on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
Wika put together the repertoire for his recital last summer and has practiced two to three hours a day since.
For the recital, Wika played the tenor trombone, which he has been playing for over 30 years. He played five pieces, divided between solo trombone and trombone with fixed media, which is a pre-recorded track.
“Both present different sets of challenges to me as a trombone player,” Wika said. “I chose five pieces that each showed off something different that the trombone could do. My challenge was to make each of the … pieces unique enough that the audience stayed interested in my performance.”
Wika believes faculty recitals are important for students.
“It’s important for students to see their faculty engaged in actual music making,” he said. “It’s important for me as a faculty member to model how to prepare for a recital and how to act on stage. It’s also important for me to demonstrate that just because I have a degree (or three) doesn’t mean that I am done learning my craft.”
Wika explained that he finds pleasure in both music and performing.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to tell stories through music,” Wika said. “With each piece that I play, I attempt to bring something unique to the performance. Sometimes it’s very easy to see what is unique about a piece. Sometimes you have to do some digging to find it, but once you find what makes each unique, it’s fun to share that with the audience.”
The piece “Blue Wolf” by Brad Edwards, written for solo trombone, was the favorite of Kyle Ingersoll, a music education freshman.
“I think ‘Blue Wolf’ was my favorite piece of the night, mostly because it was a nice piece in general, and it showed the work that Dr. Wika put behind it all throughout the song,” Ingersoll said.
Ingersoll has attended concerts at SVSU before, and he said he was glad he didn’t miss out on this one.
He also plays the trombone.
“It was a great concert,” he said. “As a trombonist, I found a lot to like during the concert, and it was nice to hear some more contemporary music being played by someone who knows what they are doing.”
Other pieces that Wika played were Leonard Bernstein’s “Elegy to Mippy II,” which was a short piece written for his brother’s dog’s passing, and Jennifer Rose’s “Mystic Domain,” a fixed media piece.
The most melancholic piece of the evening was “Elegie” by Christian Jost. Wika said he believes a solo piece should be approached as if it were a story.
He approached “Elegie” as a telling of the five stages of grief and portrayed this exceptionally to the audience.
Alessandra Dronchi, a music education freshman, most enjoyed Howard Buss’ “Alien Loop de Loops,” another fixed media piece and Wika’s final piece of the night.
“I liked (Alien Loop de Loops) the most because it was full of energy,” Dronchi said. “This song was interesting because instead of him playing alone, he had an audio track that he played with. It … created an upbeat vibe that got most audience members to dance or shake their head to the beat.”
Dronchi was glad to have had the opportunity to attend Wika’s performance. “I attended the recital because Dr. Wika is one of my professors,” she said. “I look up to him a lot, so I thought it would be awesome to see him perform.”
Reporting from Shelby Mott, Vanguard Reporter