GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Using modern technology, a program Monday evening opened a window on entertainment among certain families in the distant past.

Piano was the thing for these families.

Togetherness, too.

A couple of people would sit down and play tunes they liked.

They became quite good at tickling the ol’ ivories.

They sought out harder, challenging pieces that tested their skill.

That music by keen composers brimmed with zip and zest and color and mustard and fun and motion.

And Monday evening, here it was by way Internet casting sound and image – live – to places anywhere listeners could be found to absorb and admire the happenings.

At the piano were an associate professor (Michael Rector) and an associate lecturer (Sylvia Hong) of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Music faculty. They are husband and wife. In fact, their son-on-the-way (the couple’s second son), Atticus, got his first airtime mention when Michael Rector spoke between selections.

Screenshot of Michael Rector and Sylvia Hong in performance. (Warren Gerds)

The “show” was computercast live from Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus.

Four hands played one million notes, give or take.

Michael Rector spoke of the research that went into the program. The quest among a huge output was for hidden gems, ones that would intrigue and excite the duo. One that they found in the Library of Congress was an unpublished manuscript, and thus Michael Rector said, “Fantastic Caprice” got a kind of modern premiere.

Overall, the music was of a mainstream appeal – being that it was the kind of music that families could play at home.

One image I had during the program was that of silent movies. All the excitement, the dramatics, the scurrying, the mischief, the melodrama, the romance, the foreign exotics, the vigor, the grandness, the tenderness and the damsel-in-distress tension were there.

The thing is, much of this music was from before movies. Gee, maybe this music was stolen by silent movie makers. Just saying.

At any rate, the program had an entertainment value in listening.

Additionally, closeup shots by one of the cameras provided visual entertainment in watching the speed and techniques and maneuverings and finesse and interpretations of the hands of Michael Rector and Sylvia Hong.

Screenshot of Michael Rector and Sylvia Hong in performance. (Warren Gerds)

They let rip for a little over an hour with aplomb.

He played the low register, she the upper. Most times. Sometimes their hands crossed. Once, the hand sequence was, left to right: his, hers, hers, his. I wonder how that came to be decided – by the composer or by them, just for something different?

The coronavirus COVID-19 is causing all kinds of grief. But here we are with this situation. Michael Rector and Sylvia Hong likely would have played the program anyway. And when they did play it, there were cameras and microphones… and people listening at home or wherever… and you can see it now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbLV3-Ofc28.

People who otherwise would not have caught this program can.

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Program (https://issuu.com/uwgbmusic/docs/rector_concert_program)

+ “Stories of Nocomis” (1858) Hermann Adolphe Wollenhaupt

   Allegro

   Con molta expressione

   Allegretto

   Allegro assai con fuoco

+ “Three Duets, Opus 6 (1890) Ethelbert Nevin

   Valse Caprice

   Country Dance

   Mazurka

+ “Lamia” (1888) Edward MacDowell

+ “Two Marches, Opus 39” (1892) George Templeton Strong

   “Military March”

   “Oriental Procession”

+ “Little American Dance” (1926) George Templeton Strong
+ “Kuma Saka, Opus 218” (1907) Homer Bartlett

+ “American Dances” (1909) Harry Shelley

   Allegro

   Andante-Allegro

   Allegro marcato

+ “Fantastic Caprice” (1883) Arthur Bird