Sarah Barham couldn’t resist when she saw the piano sitting just inside the main entrance of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland Day — she had to play it.
Barham, a sophomore piano and vocal performances double major, has been playing the piano since she was 5 — for almost 14 years.
Despite her hatred for practicing, Barham learned early on about her love for sight-reading music and playing around on the piano, she said.
“It was the joy of communicating with an audience through music — pure, wordless emotion — that helped me overcome my dislike for practicing and motivated me to take piano seriously during high school,” Barham said.
During high school, Barham won several concerto competitions throughout the region, which gave her the opportunity to perform the concerto with the Capital City Symphony in D.C. and the James Madison University Symphony Orchestra in Virginia.
“It was because of these achievements and the joy that I experienced whenever I performed, that made me decide to pursue piano and vocal performance,” Barham said.
Barham played a piece called “Scarbo”; it is the last movement in a set of three pieces called “Gaspard de la nuit,” which translates to “Sorcerer of the Night.” The French piece was written by Maurice Ravel in 1908 based off of Aloysius Bertrand’s poem of the same name.
Today, pianists consider Ravel’s “Scarbo” to be one of the most difficult pieces in the piano repertoire, Barham said.
“The piece is so technically difficult. It’s the perfect crowd-pleaser,” Barham said. “The most impressive part is that it encompasses such a wide range of colors, dynamics, rhythms and harmonies without losing its coherency.”
Barham was one of two pianists selected to represent the piano department in the honors recital, which took place May 6 in CSPAC’s Gildenhorn Recital Hall. Two students from each department performed.
Barham wasn’t the only one enjoying Maryland Day. Sophomore theater majors Aisha Knights and Adanna Nnawuba dressed up in their own carnival culture costumes and handed out Mardi Gras beads to people inside CSPAC, as though having their own carnival parade.
Knights and Nnawuba are students in Professor Jim Ball’s new performance studies course, “Carnival: Festival Culture and Performance,” where they learned about carnival culture’s beginnings in Medieval Europe and its move to the Americas.
“The class traces the way the carnival culture moves around the world while looking at how comedy, identity and theories of parading appear and also exploring how it all relates to the traditional stage,” Ball said.
On Maryland Day, students dressed up as characters they created themselves. Some used a color to theme their costume, such as Nnawuba’s blue devil costume.
“Many people from our readings create their characters and costumes, and people know them by what they wear,” Knights said.
This first-time course contained readings about carnival culture in New Orleans, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.