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story.lead_photo.caption Cellist Alex Hersh, 2019 winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Competition in Strings. Photo by Submitted to the Texarkana Gazette / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — A young and talented up-and-coming cellist gets the spotlight Tuesday at Texarkana College.

The TC Music Department, AR-TX Music Connection and Allegro Club present Alex Hersh, who'll be on tour as a National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Competition in Strings winner for 2019.

Mary Scott Goode
Hersh's concert collaborator for the evening will be TC Professor of Music Mary Scott Goode on piano, and they'll start the performance at 7:30 p.m. in the Stilwell Humanities Music Hall. This free show is part of the departments' fall music series.

It's challenging music, says Goode, who's been practicing for the occasion. She'll tour with the cellist across Arkansas for his week-long tour.

"Opening with a Bach solo prelude for cello," Goode said about the first number, a suite made famous by none other than Yo-Yo Ma. "This is very famous. This is beautiful music."

The Bach piece will be followed by a sonata composed by Samuel Barber. Goode says it's talked about as the best American cello sonata ever composed. "It's a 20th century piece," she said, noting it reminds her of Brahms. Barber is perhaps best known for his 1936 composition "Adagio for Strings."

"It's a vigorous piece. It's a really nice piece," Goode said about the sonata. "It's giving me a workout, I'll tell you that." One focus on the National Federation of Music Clubs is presenting American music, she said. "That's fitting that this is on there," she said.

Other selections include a sonata by Claude Debussy — "lots of special effects in this one," Goode said, such as pizzicato, harmonic tones and cool sound effects.

A duo of short pieces by Anton Webern will be performed. It's atypical for Webern. "This is totally romantic music, really gorgeous. It's going to be unexpected . rich, gorgeous, beautiful," Goode said. The concert concludes with a composition by Gabriel Fauré and then a Giovanni Sollima work titled "Lamentatio."

The pianist has a difficult, albeit welcome, task performing with a visiting cellist like this. They have one rehearsal before starting their tour in Jonesboro at Arkansas State University.

"It takes experience and understanding of nuances," said Vicki Carr, president of the AR-TX Music Connection and Arkansas Federation of Music Clubs. And in Goode, Hersh has an accompanying pianist who's plenty capable. She says the job requires listening.

The tour also visits Ouachita Baptist University, University of Arkansas Monticello, a music club in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas Community College.

"It's one of the great things that the National Federation of Music Clubs does. They send out their national winners," Goode said of the tour.

Most of the musicians who win each year are working on a doctorate, Carr explained. And as national winners, they're tops. "They're really high echelon," she said. For the musicians, performing across the country for two years gives them exposure and experience.

Carr saw Hersh perform when he won this past summer in Florida. "I just found him as charming as he can be — in a quirky way," she said, noting she sensed an acerbic wit. And about his playing, "He's fabulous," she said. He was far and away the best of the cello competitors, she said.

The Chicago-raised Hersh is now the fourth generation in his family to play strings. His performances brought him to the Houston Symphony, Boston Pops and Carnegie Weill Hall. He's performed at music festivals all over the country and abroad.

(More info: Contact Mary Scott Goode at mary.goode@texarkanacollege.edu.)

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