A rare taste of authentic faculty talent
There were moments of dark moodiness followed by cheerful melodies, and they were married eloquently by musician David Johnson’s transcendent bass.
His fingers raced up and down his violin’s neck, at times reaching notes as high as his instrument would allow.
Georgia College faculty members Johnson and Gregory Pepetone teamed up to deliver a performance to a large crowd of GC students Monday night at the Max Noah Recital Hall.
Johnson, an accomplished violinist and composer, has taught at Midwestern State University and University of Puget Sound as well as Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music in Macon where he was also the concertmaster of the Macon Symphony Orchestra.
Pepetone, having more time to develop his career, is a current-day renaissance man. Now the director of keyboard activities at GC, Pepetone’s academic repertoire focuses on music history as well as the relation of music to painting, literature and film. In addition, Pepetone is also an accomplished writer, twice the recipient of “Article of the Year” for his contributions to the journal “American Music Teacher.”
Monday’s recital did not go unheard, with many students having to stand along the walls of Max Noah waiting for the performance to begin.
“Dr. Johnson has been one of my favorite teachers since I started the [music] program, and his recital last year was great,” junior music major Brandon Marsolo said. “I like Dr. Johnson as a composer as well as a violin player. I’ve never had a class with Dr. Pepetone, but everybody talks about how good he is, and I wanted to see for myself.”
Johnson, armed with his violin and dressed in sleek black from his jet-black hair down to his polished shoes, would have to perform the first piece alone, playing both the melody and bass simultaneously – by no means an easy task.
Composed by Bach, “Partita No. 2 in D Minor” consists of five alternating movements, with the fifth titled “Ciaccona” being the longest and most complex.
“It’s really easy for a listener these days to lose track and become disinterested, so I told the audience to let the music enable your mind to wander and let it take you on that journey that will remind you of your past experiences,” Johnson said.
Bach’s “Partita No. 2” cascaded its way around the room, spreading an invisible blanket of emotion over all listeners.
“I’m typically not a fan of classical music and never thought I would be,” senior sociology major Renee DeSantis said. “I could not help but be swept up in the emotionally provoking notes coming from his violin.”
With his eyes closed, Johnson was tuning in to a higher level of focus that every musician strives to achieve. The music seemed to be birthed on his face, travel down his arm to his fingers, where it would then jump into his violin, and then explode back out, exquisitely transformed into audible emotion. After one last long, drawn-out note, the classic piece was over and Johnson was met with a roaring applause.
Pepetone contributed with his methodic, complimentary notes by tapping away on the piano before him.
The second, and final, piece of the night, “Sonata for Violin and Piano,” is a composition by
Johnson and is barely a year old. He wrote it while teaching at Midwestern State University.
“I generally think of myself as a more traditional sounding composer, I don’t do a lot of experimental things, and I usually use a harmonic language that’s somewhat familiar to the listener,” Johnson said.
Pepetone sat at the piano to contribute to this composition. The two men played brilliantly together, with Pepetone marrying the two instruments at his shiny black command center.
There was a clear distinction between each of the four movements. Some would easily provoke dance, had it been the proper setting, while others forced a more somber, introspective mood across the audience with its deep, moaning tones blanketing the affected listeners.
“The third movement in Johnson’s piece had some really cool melodies, and even though it was a slow movement, I thought it was the most powerful,” Marsolo said.