posted 2011-03-09 13:00:39

Philip Ewell Performs With Andrew Pau - Hunter College offers concerts put on by faculty members

Philip Ewell Performs With Andrew Pau

Hunter College offers concerts put on by faculty members

Alexandra Niemetz

Staff Writer

With the emergence of the digital age and the increased accessibility of popular music in today’s culture, classical music’s popularity has slowly waned over the years. More college students should be exposed to the realm of classical music, whether it’s through databases on the Internet, or through attending performances. Students at Hunter College are lucky enough to be provided with classical music concerts performed by faculty members, for $5 or free with a Hunter ID.

Philip Ewell, a cellist and Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Hunter College, performed three pieces with guest pianist Andrew Pau at the Lang Recital Hall on Feb. 28. Lang Recital Hall is a stunning concert hall on the fourth floor of the Hunter North building. While modest in size, the concert hall has a beautiful, well-lit stage and accommodating acoustics.

The cello and piano complemented each other gracefully throughout the course of the three musical compositions, which were written by three late nineteenth century/early twentieth century composers: Alexander Glazunov, Sergei Prokoviev and Sergei Rachaminov. When asked about the compositions, Ewell said, “I think they represent the beauty of Russian art music. Personally, they remind me of the six years I spent in Russia.”

What’s striking about Ewell is his absolute infatuation with Russian music and culture. “I started listening [to] and playing Russian music as an undergrad and I studied Russian language as well,” said Ewell. He ended up on a long voyage to Russia — specifically St. Petersburg, known as Leningrad at the time. He studied under Anatoly Nikitine and stayed in Russia from 1991-1994, and later returned to Russia while pursuing his graduate degree in music theory and ended up writing about Alexander Scriabin.

He has been playing the cello since he was nine years old, and is a devoted fan of music. Not just limited to classical music, Ewell also enjoys alternative rock, indie rock and hip hop. Modern artists whom he currently praises include The Dirty Projectors and Regina Spektor.

Ewell’s credentials include a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford, a Master of Arts from Queens College and a doctorate in music theory from Yale. He also received a certificate from a conservatory in Moscow. His credentials are impressive, and upon hearing him perform at Lang Hall, it is obvious that his years of classical training have molded him into a very moving musician.

Andrew Pau, the pianist whom accompanied Ewell, is not a stranger to Ewell. They performed together for the first time in 1998 at an undergraduate concert at Stanford and have stayed in touch throughout the years.

Ewell and Pau’s serene, yet occasionally explosive performance gracefully represented the artfulness of the Russian compositions. During the performance, Ewell’s concentration reached a new level of Zen. He moved with such fluidity that the notes he played seemed to sustain and vibrate throughout the room. In some of the faster movements, he plucked chords, in effect, creating a more dissonant and abrupt change in melody. Ewell appeared to be unaware of his surroundings and entirely consumed with his performance.