KU student premiers original classical composition

By Viviana Vidal

Raul Palomo (left) and Dr. Immel (right) practicing for their performance.  Photo by Viviana Vidal, The Keystone

Raul Palomo (left) and Dr. Immel (right) practicing for their performance.
Photo by Viviana Vidal, The Keystone

   On Saturday, Feb. 21, Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Immel will travel to Budapest, Hungary to perform at the famous Liszt Academy of Music. Within his concert, he will also debut senior composition major Raul Palomo’s piece, “Pasarela de Vida.”

   Immel commissioned Palomo to produce an original piano piece in fall 2014. Palomo accepted the challenge and completed the piece in two months. Immel said, “I told him to make it as difficult as possible.”

   Palomo met the expectations and caught the attention of the Liszt Academy for this extraordinary achievement. Immel said, “Typically they don’t allow student compositions, especially those external of the academy. So, I said give it a chance. I had a recording. The piece had not been published, and so I sent it in and they allowed it.”

   Palomo, stunned by the response of the Liszt Academy, reacted to the exhilarating news. “It’s so euphoric to have the academy listen to it and say, ‘we’ll allow it, we liked it, and we’ll break some rules.’ You don’t know how to react to it. You kind of just accept it and keep going.”

   The concert focuses on Austrian-Hungarian connections and influences. Prominent musicians Mozart and Liszt are featured, but compositions from other, lesser-known artists are also included. “My Janacek piece, ‘In the Mists,’ is a very psychological and harrowing piece. It fits in with Raul’s piece and it’s a really nice transition emotionally, but technically it’s difficult,” said Immel.

   Palomo, influenced greatly by his roots in El Salvador, discusses the inspiration behind his original work: ‘“Pasarela de Vida’ translates to ‘bridge or catwalk of life.’ It has a very haunting feel to it and is philosophically oriented. It’s an octonic piece, meaning instead of the traditional seven tone scales in western music, it has eight. I wanted to implement my culture with off beats and accents, mixing it with the classical world.”

   Both Immel and Palomo agree that chemistry is key to collaboration and fostering creativity. Palomo said, “We bring in ideas, we discuss our different perspectives, and are able to reach a middle ground.” Immel added, “You get a handful of students who come to you with all the tools as music majors and as raw as they may be, have everything there to achieve greatness, and he is one of them.”

   On Monday, Feb. 9, Immel and jazz professor Dr. Jeremy Justeson held a faculty recital in Old Main 163 as a preview for the Liszt Academy performance. Palomo will hold his senior recital on March 20, also in the Georgian Room, at 7:30 p.m. For more information on upcoming performances and events from the KU music department, visit http://www.kutztown.edu/music.



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