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Concert to commemorate 150 years of Rachmaninoff

November 1, 2023


NEWBERRY — Newberry College will host a special concert to mark the 150th birthday of the great Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. The performance is set for Nov. 12 at 3:30 p.m. at the Alumni Music Center.


The concert will be led by piano professor and accompanist Wanda Neese (right). She will be joined by Christopher Dukes ’06, Shawn Hair ’02, Lilly Tague ’21, Chandler Watson ’22, and current music students Joseph Loera, Belle Kneece and Micah McNamee. The event will also include an exhibit and memorabilia on Rachmaninoff’s life and career, which will open at 2:30 p.m.


“I've always been fascinated with Rachmaninoff,” said Neese. “I was fascinated with his life story, even though I didn't know that much about it while I was in undergraduate school. Even today, they don't cover him a lot in music appreciation and history books, and they should, because he is one of the greatest composers of all time.”


The concert pianist, composer and conductor was born into a musical Russian family in 1873. He began learning piano at age four, studied at the Moscow Conservatory, and settled in the United States in 1918 following the Russian Revolution. He toured extensively, giving concerts and recitals throughout the U.S. and Europe. He died in Beverly Hills, California, in 1943.


His works span a wide repertoire, including symphonies, concertos, piano and choral works, and even operas. He is regarded as one of the last composers of the Romantic era, which spanned the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries.


“The concert is a combination of low brass, high brass, flute, and piano,” said Neese. “We even have one piece that Rachmaninoff wrote for six hands at one piano. Most of the pieces were composed during his time at the Moscow Conservatory.”


The event is free and open to the public.

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