The first academic week of short term ended with an amazing performance put on by James Parakilas and Duncan Cummings ’93 in the Olin Arts Concert Hall on Friday night. The audience was treated to phenomenal piano music from composers such as Mozart, von Weber, Poulenc, Schubert, and so many more. What was most striking about the evening was not the music itself that was played, which was incredible, but the fact that Parakilas and Cummings were performing together on a singular piano!
All those who attended the concert looked to be in awe of how both pianists worked together to put on an experience so unique compared to a normal piano performance. The two worked simultaneously and seemingly effortlessly together as they played works from famous musicians, provoking a strong applause from the audience at the end of the night. As a student attending the concert, I was not only blown away by the level of skill that these two performers had, but also that they were past students and faculty. I actually consider this fact the best part of the performance, as it gave me a strong sense of pride for Bates and for the education that all Bates students are given. The performance also allowed Bates students to witness a product of the education that they are currently being given; something that is quite inspiring.
The combination of a past Bates professor with an alumnus allowed for a more personal musical experience for all Bates students, because it allowed us to see how enriching the Bates learning experience can be. Parakilas is a professor emeritus here and taught courses on music history and culture, as well as music theory and performance. He currently coaches student chamber groups in his spare time. He holds a doctorate from Cornell University and is the James L. Moody, Jr. Family Professor Emeritus of Performing Arts at Bates. He has many works published such as the book Ballads Without Words: Chopin and the Tradition of the Instrumental Ballade and the textbook The Story of Opera (forthcoming from W. W. Norton). Cummings, his counterpart of the evening, is a music professor from Albany, New York and a 1993 Bates graduate. To watch Cummings, a product of the Bates music department, work alongside a past professor from Bates demonstrated to the audience just how strong of a bond can be formed between members of the Bates community. It also allowed current Bates students to see how talented Bates’s music department is, and how it provides a lasting impact on Bates students for many years after graduation. Seeing two people whose lives have both been touched by Bates perform together, hand in hand, shows an amazing bond that Bates instills in students through education.
In conclusion, being able to watch the two pianists provide an amazing musical performance to all who attended gave me a strong sense of pride for being a part of the Bates community. The experience was especially heartwarming knowing that these performers were not just some random musicians coming to perform on campus, but rather two people who have been a part of the Bates community and still continue to come back in order to enrich the lives of current Bates Students. Thank you, Professor Parakilas and Mr. Cummings for performing, and please do again soon!