Concert series bridges work and performance for music faculty

SPMMusic1 Katzin Concert Hall is tucked between Gammage and the Herberger School, housing beautiful concerts from both talented students and staff.  Photo by Luu Nguyen

It was a balmy Wednesday night in Tempe as students and music lovers alike filed into the depths of the “birthday cake building” where Katzin Concert Hall resides. Everyone shuffled into the music building for a classical music recital.

The stars of the night’s performance were Catalin Rotaru, associate professor of the school of music, playing double bass, and Anastasia Zhivotovskaya who came all the way from Russia to play piano. Robert Spring, a professor at the School of Music, stepped in as a guest during one song playing the clarinet.

The affair was light and informative with a few jokes here and there as classical music of all types was played for the audience to enjoy.

“This is a complete debut for me playing hairless," Rotaru says, mentioning to his hairless head for a moment of comic relief.

The night’s recital was a part of the School of Music’s ongoing Faculty Concert series. The School of Music Director Heather Landes says that the recitals are supposed to be informative and relatable for the audience.

Landes says that the playing faculty members will talk about how they arranged the piece during the recitals. This way, the audience can have a moment of education, which makes it easier to relate to the artist.

“It’s becoming more common in classical music,” Landes says, about the artists explaining their pieces. “Faculty has taken a page from jazz artists by explaining.”

Catalin 1 Photo Courtesy of Catalin Rotaru

Rotaru has been teaching at ASU for nine years and has been playing the double bass since he was 12. Before he would play each song during the recital, he would speak about its origins and how he worked on the piece to suit the double bass better.

Rotaru has played in the concert series every year since he has been at ASU. His persona on stage portrays a deep love for every moment of performance.

“Music is always about emotion,” Rotaru says. “(When playing) you don’t think much, you become a vessel, a generator of emotion.”

Amy Buescher, performance music major, says that the recitals are amazing.

“(I) Go because they inspire me,” Buescher says.

Landes says that the faculty at the School of Music wants to make a difference with these recitals. While professors at other departments within ASU write journals and scholarly articles for their specific fields of study, professors at the School of Music perform, Landes says.

She says that the professors not only perform at the school, but they also perform all across the world.

Student staff works with the faculty concert series, working as ushers, technical operators and behind stage under a specialist, Landes says.

Not only do they work recitals, but they also learn to record music, she says.

With the proceeds from the faculty series they are currently working on being able to live-stream the concerts for those who can’t attend, Landes says.

The student faculty series is an ongoing event at ASU that happens multiple times through the month.

Contact the writer at or on Twitter @jesse_millard

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.