What happens when you bring together a classically trained pianist and a professional opera singer? You have an unstoppable force of musical talent, which is what Chancellor David O. Belcher and Susan Belcher delivered Tuesday, Sept. 8.
With a full house, the Belchers put together a 60-minute performance of many classical pieces as well as a few musical numbers to demonstrate their talent and send thanks to the Friends of the Arts for their donations.
“It was truly a classical evening presented by two very talented classical people,” said Paul Lormand, director of the Bardo Arts Center. “I’ve never seen that in my lifetime: a chancellor and his wife able to put on a high quality entertainment program. We just hope it’s the first of many.”
The show opened with three German pieces, which translate to “Devotion,” “All Soul’s Day” and “Cecily,” composed by Richard Strauss. After every song, some of the audience members gave a standing ovation, which are typically given at the end. In between the numbers, Susan Belcher would entertain the audience with the history of the songs and gave thanks to everyone in attendance.
After the first three songs, Susan Belcher left the stage and Dr. David Belcher serenaded the crowd with a few piano melodies composed by Frederic Chopin. Chancellor David Belcher took some time before the songs to explain the origin of his songs. “The Etude,” French for “study,” is used to help pianists practice specific skills on the piano. “The Prelude” was described as a small Etude while “Barcarolle” was described as a piece to make you feel as if you were on a gondola.
“My goal as a pianist is to make you feel like you’re on a gondola without making you sick,” said David Belcher.
Susan Belcher then rejoined her husband onstage to sing three French pieces titled “Mandoline,” “Les Berceaux” and “Les Chemins de l’Amour.” Gabriel Faure composed the songs “Madonline,” which translates to “Mandolin,” and “Les Berceaus.” Francis Poulenc composed “Les Chemins de l’Amour,” which translates to “Path’s of Love,” and is one of the Belchers’ favorite pieces.
The Belchers finished their classical performance with two pieces by Jules Massenet from the opera “Manon,” where Susan Belcher demonstrated what exactly a professional opera singer can do, and “Jeux d’eau,” composed by Maurice Ravel. That number showed off how well David Belcher can play the piano.
“Ravel pictured sunlight and water going through the fountains in France,” said WCU’s chancellor when discussing “Jeux d’eau.” “I like to think that he was thinking about Western North Carolina with the Tuckasegee and Nantahala.”
“I liked it,” said student Darian Alexander Jackson. “The chancellor was pretty amazing, and the Mrs. had a lovely voice and stage presence.”
What really stole the show were the dress changes done by Susan Belcher.
“It’s all about the dress,” said David Belcher when his wife came out in her final dress and got a round of applause for it.
The performance ended with some musicals numbers, including “The Sound of Music” from “The Sound of Music;” “Schroeder/Lucy” from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown;” and” Cosi Cosa” from “A Night at the Opera.”
During their performance of “Schroeder/Lucy,” cleverly changed to “David/Susan” for the performance, Susan Belcher described the first time she met her husband.
“The first time David saw me I was singing on stage at a funeral,” Susan Belcher explained. “Well, it was more of a memorial service.”
Kirsten Simkiss, who attended the performance for her music appreciation class said, “It was a lot of fun. There was a good dynamic, and they made it a lot of fun.”
A standing ovation was given after the final song, and the crowd moved to a meet-and-greet held in the lobby.
“We hope it will be an annual event,” said Lormand.