Music majors jazz it up for free Friday concerts

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Concerts at noon features instruments ranging from piano and cello to clarinet and euphonium. (Gianluca Cuestas)
Christian Hales and Zac Adamson perform a duet in the Harris Fine Arts Center on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. The Concerts at Noon series features instruments ranging from piano and cello to clarinet and euphonium. (Gianluca Cuestas)

The Harris Fine Arts Center is home to art galleries and theaters, and even its gallery floor becomes a live music venue every Friday at lunchtime. Dubbed “Concerts at Noon,” the student performances are a four-year tradition and all are welcome to attend.

Concerts at Noon coordinator Hannah Cope said the concerts exist to help music majors cool their stage fright and to provide other BYU students with an uplifting experience.

“We call it a sandbox performance opportunity for students in the school of music,” Cope said.  “It’s more of a casual concert, and so students can play pieces that they’re working on in a low-pressure environment.”

Every performance is made up of students in the school of music, who use the opportunity as a sort of dress rehearsal for bigger, more stressful recitals.

Christian Hales, who has performed four times at Concerts at Noon, said he’s appreciated the chance to play on Fridays.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking to play in front of your peers, but it’s really good preparation for recitals,” Hales said. “So it’s good to have a kind of judgment-free environment where you can play what you’re working on.”

Concerts usually run from noon to 12:40 p.m., featuring various genres. In the past, students have performed pieces ranging from classical and jazz to folk and Dixie.  Occasionally, students perform original songs or pieces from new music.

Cope said the style and quality of the pieces set the Concerts at Noon apart.

“The type of performances we have are not the types you hear necessarily at other venues on campus where you have students performing,” Cope said. “This is classical music that students are spending a lot of time preparing and studying, and it’s beautiful. It’s just a rare thing to get to see for free, and we always have high-quality performances.”

Some students stumble across the Concerts at Noon, but a few students consistently go to hear the performances.

“It’s cool to just come and take a break and listen,” said Alan Felt, a student who regularly attends the concerts.

CJ Madsen, another coordinator for the concerts, said he sees Concerts at Noon as a prime opportunity to follow President Worthen’s recent advice to “let the Y light you.” Music often channels the Spirit, Madsen said.

“Some of the greatest ways I’ve been inspired at BYU have been listening to the Concerts at Noon. The music there just lifts me up and really enlightens me,” Madsen said. “I feel like the more BYU can participate in it and really feel it, the better. And who doesn’t need a little bit of nice music to lighten their load?”

With the exception of holidays, exam preparation days and finals, students perform every week. Every year at Christmastime, the School of Music brings in an organ and hosts a Christmas sing-along instead of the normal performances.

To both music majors wishing to perform and other students seeking a break, the School of Music Student Advisory Council extends a warm welcome.

“It’s awesome. You can eat your lunch here, it’s totally casual, you don’t have to stay the whole time,” Cope said. “Just come check it out.”

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