“Acts of Daring” Wows at Brodbeck

Dr. Nnenna Ogwo performs in piano concert


The Exponent/Morgan Fuerstenberg

The UW-Platteville Department of Performing and Visual Arts hosted the piano performance, “Acts of Daring” by Dr. Nnenna Ogwo on March 1 through the Olga and Ray Guest Lecturer Fund.

Dr. Ogwo is a professional pianist and music teacher who has played all over the world and founded the Juneteenth Legacy Project, which is a “NYC-based musical collective whose mission is to share the music of the African Diaspora through the unique lens of Black classically trained musicians.”

“When I go to a concert, I want to be shaken by what I’ve heard. I want to be transformed by what I’ve heard, and so that’s what I think my job is,” Dr. Ogwo said before the performance. “Which might be asking a lot.”

When asked about the goal of her performance, she explained, “It’s very important to me that I take the listener on a journey and I want the listener to hear things that are very comfortable and familiar, but I also want the listener to be challenged by things that they’ve never heard before”.

Ogwo opened the concert by detailing her history with the first piece, Chaconne in D Minor for the Left Hand by Johannes Brahms.

“I have been playing this piece for decades,” Ogwa said. “However, only recently did I find out that (Brahms) wrote it after finding out his wife had died…he wrote this chaconne as a meditation on grief. I hadn’t been thinking about this piece like that at all.”

After the chaconne, she talked about Ulysses Kay, a modern composer, and played the last three movements of his piece “Inventions.” The first movement, titled “Moderato,” was a light, fluid piece that, towards its end, introduced some unique harmonies. The second movement, “Larghetto,” was an open, meditative piece with trills that brought a light-hearted tone to it. The final movement, “Presto,” was a more active piece – playful and bouncing – but still matching the tone of the other two movements.

Next, Ogwo played selections from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “24 Negro Melodies, Op. 59.” The first piece was “Don’t be Weary, Traveller,” a spiritual from the American south. The tune followed a pleasant rhythmic harmony with interesting, hard chords.

The other selection was “Take Nabandji”, a war song from Southeast Africa. This song held lots of forward momentum, with chant patterns thrown in to add to the war-like feel of the song. The final piece of the performance was “Toccata” by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. This piece was an incredibly fun, light piece that rounded out the concert. Dr. Ogwo succeeded in her goal to give the audience a new experience.

“It was a very unique recital, unlike any prior I have attended. Dr. Ogwo was very relaxed and carefree and played many pieces by artists I had never heard of,” said Christopher Andraski, a music major. “If you were unable to attend, you really missed out on a great performance.”