EU & PSU collab for chamber music recital

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 5:04 PM

Professors Anthony J. Costa, Sarah Schouten and Amber Shay Nicholson performed at the Alexander Music Center on March 23 as a collaborative performance between Edinboro University and Pennsylvania State University (PSU). The afternoon of chamber music began with “Suite,” a classical piece, originally composed by Alec Wilder. 

Audience members sat patiently in the near full recital hall, as eyes were attentively fixed on the artists that proclaimed their significance without words. Melodies soft and high took viewers by surprise and reverberated against the brown wood floor that laid beneath the musicians.

The “Allegro Moderato,” an Italian musical phrase used to identify tempo, indicated the progression of intensity with every note exerted by the professors. The speed of the music began to increase while the professors rapidly changed their finger placement around the instruments. Not one performer looked into the crowd while playing, as their full attention was required to avoid the slip in fluency. 

“I like the music, especially the piano in the background,” said Ricardo Rivera, a freshman at Edinboro. “Their ability to play is really good,” he continued.

The stage that held the musicians glistened against the yellowish lights while the professors transitioned into their second composition, “Der Stucke,” initially written by Felix Mendelssohn.

Nicholson anchored the composition with her straightforward style of orchestration and demeanor, which added a sense of elegance to the chamber music. Nicholson was composed and confident in the message she conveyed with her piano. The musician has served as a keyboardist for both Slippery Rock University and the University of Southern Mississippi, and she performs frequently as a collaborative artist and independent pianist. 

Schouten, currently an instructor of high brass at Edinboro University and lecturer of horn at PSU, balanced the piece with a deep symphonic element resonating throughout the tightly packed room; it was the type of sound that could be felt inside your chest. Her instrumental approach was relaxed, yet assertive. The professor is a frequent lecturer and musician and has even participated in the Penn’s Woods Festival.

The liveliness given by Costa, associate professor of clarinet at PSU and clarinetist with the Pennsylvania Quintet, produced an immense amount of energy that could be noticed from the back of the audience. Costa is primarily a teacher and has taught clarinet and other music courses at Otterbein College, Ashland University and the college of Mount St. Joseph before working at PSU.

Before entering into “Trio, Op. 274,” Costa solemnly addressed the audience and expressed his remorse for the situation at Edinboro regarding the music department. The professor went on to say that music is communication which serves as a living, breathing telephone line through time, which is why he believes it’s important to preserve music on any campus. 

“This next piece is by a German composer, Carl Reinecke, [who had] a long career in music and wore many hats. He was a conductor [and] he was an amazing pianist. This piece he wrote when he was about 82 years old and this is a monumental work,” said Costa.

He and his team of performers situated themselves for their final composition after the professor finished speaking, which then led the team into synchronized harmony. 

Rick Chernicky can be reached at


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