LATROBE, PA – The Saint Vincent College Concert Series has released a special virtual performance of an esteemed quartet of professional musicians, available for viewing on the Saint Vincent College YouTube channel.
Arranged by organist J. Christopher Pardini, “An Intimate Evening in the Sacred Space of the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica,” featuring Pardini, cellist Anne Martindale Williams, violinist Christopher Wu and featured baritone Thomas Octave, was recorded in the historic Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica and produced by Brother Placid Sellers, O.S.B., assistant director of Saint Vincent Archabbey media.
Octave, chair of fine arts and associate professor of music at Saint Vincent College and director of the Saint Vincent College Concert Series, said that the performers jumped at the chance to return to the stage, albeit in a different format.
“They were very excited about the idea and eager to be a part of the performance,” he said. “This was a concert intended to bring some comfort with music that is somewhat familiar and sacred.”
Each of the four performers brought impressive resumés to the performance at Saint Vincent.
Along with conducting the Saint Vincent College Singers and teaching courses in voice, music appreciation and opera at the College, Octave is the music director of the Westmoreland Choral Society and director of sacred music for the Diocese of Greensburg. As a conductor, he has presented a multitude of varied genres of music, including operas and musicals, while he has collaborated with jazz legend Joe Negri, The River City Brass Band and renowned choreographer Maria Caruso.
Williams has been principal cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since 1979 and has regularly been featured as a soloist both in Pittsburgh and on tour in New York City at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, while she was also soloist with the PSO in the Pittsburgh premier of “The Giving Tree,” conducted by legendary composer Lorin Maazel. In addition to performing across the world, Williams also teaches cello in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music.
Wu has enjoyed a diverse career as an orchestral and chamber musician, teacher and soloist. He joined the first violin section of the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra in 1988 and currently holds the Nancy and Jeffery Leininger First Violin Chair. An active chamber musician, Wu has played with a wide array of artists, including Nancy Williams, Joshua Bell and the Muir String Quartet.
Pardini maintains an active concert schedule as a concert organist in the U.S. and abroad, while he serves as organist and director of music at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg and as a lecturer in the Department of Music at Saint Vincent College. The first-place winner in the 1998 San Marino Organ Competition in San Marino, California, Pardini has also studied organ with Kendrick Mervine and Gavin Black, organ improvisation with Gerre Hancock, voice with Paulo Faustini and Tracy Chebra and choral conducting with Kames Jordan and Andrew Magill.
“We are grateful not only for his virtuosic keyboard skills,” Octave said of Pardini, “but also for his arranging and compositional gifts. We are honored that he is part of our faculty in the music department.”
In planning the performance, Octave said that his priority was to ensure that it would be recorded artistically and in a safe setting and credits Brother Placid for his direction.
“Brother Placid was instrumental in helping us create a safe, artistic and sacred setting for the recording,” said Octave. “He was the producer, while he also edited and put together all of the audio and visuals. He is a genius, and Saint Vincent is blessed to have him.”
Leading into the recording, the group had little time to rehearse. Octave, however, was beyond pleased with the end results, owing it to his fellow performers’ talent and experience.
“Truly, we did not have a lot of opportunity to rehearse beforehand, so we relied on our shared musical experiences, individual rehearsal and one brief group rehearsal.”
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily thrown a wrench into Octave’s plans for resuming live performances of the Saint Vincent College Concert Series, which was established in 1971 by the late Father Joseph Bronder, O.S.B., he plans on continuing to bring music performances to the College in this virtual format.
“Our hope,” he said, “is to record two more for the spring semester.”
For more information on the Saint Vincent College Concert Series, contact Octave at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO (from left to right): Organist J. Christopher Pardini, violinist Christopher Wu, baritone Thomas Octave and cellist Anne Martindale Williams perform during “An Intimate Evening in the Sacred Space of the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.”