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"You have never been to a concert like this," began Gerald Shapiro as he introduced "Fugue Radio: all fugues all the time." The concert, held last Saturday night in the Grant Recital Hall, was the culminating event of a week-long music festival organized by Shapiro, professor of music and composer. The festival included concerts and lectures all week dedicated to fugues, a type of song in which themes are repeated by two or more voices built upon one another.

The concert incorporated a variety of instruments including pianos, strings, woodwinds and a keyboard, while also including faculty, students and guest composers. A unique aspect of the concert was that half of the audience was composed of performers, producing a two-hour "marathon of fugues," Shapiro described to The Herald.

The concert included 24 fugues in total. It featured works by classical masters like Bach, Chopin, Mozart and Brahms, and original pieces by modern-day composers Neely Bruce, David Borden and Don Freund, all of whom attended, were also performed. Shapiro premiered an original fugue.

Saturday's concert began with an a cappella piece titled, "The Heart of the Fugue," a sort of satire of the fugue itself. 

A quartet from the Brown Madrigal Singers, a student-run chamber chorus group, performed the piece. The lyrics of the song explained the vocal techniques that the singers employed.

"The fugue is a very semiotically dense kind of composition because there's so many transformations and interactions that work between the subjects," said Jacob Scharfman '13, a baritone for the Madrigals. "And when you add words to that you get another stacking."

Fugue Radio was Shapiro's brainchild. Though he has organized other concerts, this is the first dedicated exclusively to fugues, he said. He has composed fugues and drew from a large community of composers when organizing the concert. 

Shapiro's class MUSC 1030: "Tonal Counterpoint" for undergraduates was covering a unit on fugues, so it intersected nicely with his teaching, he said.

Shapiro's students "get the festival as an introduction to the study. It's a fascinating kind of music to write. It's got a kind of resurgence," Shapiro said.

After the concert's conclusion, the audience was encouraged to participate in fuguing tunes with Brown's Sacred Harp Singers. The lyrics of the tunes were printed on the back of the show's program, and this last gesture was demonstrative of the evening's collaborative nature.

"The interaction between the composers who are also performers is really cool," said Devanney Haruta '16. "A couple of the performers are my professors so it's interesting to see them in both lights."

The atmosphere of the evening was informal, allowing those not performing to enjoy the display of talent and creativity.

"I've never heard of a fugue before - I didn't know what that was before coming," said Caitlin Meuser '16. "Everyone did a great job."


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