National Piano Month may be in September, but on the campus of Chestnut Hill College, the sounds of the ebony and ivory keys resonated through the walls during the month of February as the College was privileged to host two world-renowned artists for free concerts celebrating history, music, and artistry.
Vincent Craig’s Performance of Radiant Pinnacle a Fitting Tribute
Continuing the College’s celebration of Black History Month, on Monday, February 6th, the world-renowned pianist, Vincent Craig, performed a free concert to an audience composed of students, faculty, staff, and members of the community. An esteemed pianist recognized for his repertoire of works by African-American composers, Craig performed selections from his most recent album, Radiant Pinnacle, a celebration of Black composers from all periods of history, dating back as early as the 17th century.
“Having been friends with Vincent for a number of years, I thoroughly enjoyed attending his performances,” notes Chris Dougherty, associate professor of Business. “When he shared some of the work of the African-American composers featured in his “Radiant Pinnacle” collection, I was delighted to connect him with Sr. Kathleen McCloskey (Chair of the Music Department) along with our DEI Officers. The resulting performance was a wonderful reflection of Vincent’s artistry and expertise in celebration of Black History Month and of diversity at CHC.”
Now the music director of the Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, Pa., and professor of piano at the Wells School of Music at West Chester University, Craig’s background in music started when he was a young boy. Under the direction of Nancy Sartin, Craig had the opportunity to play publicly at the Columbia Artists Management Hall in New York City at just eight years old. By age 10, he had performed on television, both locally in New York and nationally for USA Network. Craig’s talent and passion for piano led him to the LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts where he won the Scott Joplin Award from the Brooklyn Opera Society and a first prize in the Society of American Musicians Young Artist Competition. Upon completing college, Craig earned his Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, followed by his Master’s of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. It was there that Craig began collating his repertoire of African American composers. It is a collection that was created with over 300 years of piano literature in mind as Craig has included both the modern and historical in his acclaimed performances.
“I enjoyed the concert quite a lot,” says Summer Reagan ’25, an early education and special education dual major. “I’ve never been to a piano concert before so this was a great first experience. It was evident how passionate Vincent Craig was about his art, as well as his eagerness to share and teach others about it within the concert. I liked how Craig gave some background on each artist and piece before playing. Overall, it was a lovely concert.”
The concert consisted of many arrangements performed with highlights from many different African-American composers that left an impact on the audience. It was clear that all in attendance left the concert with a new respect for African-American composers and a love for their work.
- Jonathan Oister
Molly Morkoski Continues Tradition of Steinway Artist Series at the College
On February 19th, just over a week after Craig’s performance delighted the College community, a crowd of alumni, community members, and faculty, returned to campus to listen to renowned artist, Molly Morkoski, perform at Chestnut Hill College’s 11th Annual Steinway Artist Concert.
Since 2011, the College’s All-Steinway designation has afforded the music department, under the leadership of Kathleen McCloskey, SSJ, M.M.Ed., assistant professor of music, the opportunity to bring a world-class pianist to campus every year for an afternoon of music to celebrate the best of what a college has to offer – rich and vibrant culture and intellectual experiences. The Steinway Series recognizes the College’s All-Steinway School designation, in which Chestnut Hill College contains no less than 90 percent of beautiful Steinway pianos.
“I am very grateful to Chestnut Hill College for its commitment to the Steinway Artist series. Every year when guests are leaving, they say to me ‘Let me know when next year’s concert will be.’” says McCloskey, who has been organizing the concerts since the beginning.
At this year’s concert, Morkoski played Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante, Opus 22. by Frédéric Chopin, among other selections. Morkoski has performed as a soloist and collaborative artist throughout the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Japan. As an avid chamber musician, Morkoski is a member of Meme, Open End, and Exponential Ensembles and has collaborated with some of today’s leading musicians, including Dawn Upshaw, John Adams, John Corigliano, and David Robertson. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, New World Symphony, Speculum Musicae, Brooklyn Chamber Music Society, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Morkoski was a Fulbright Scholar to Paris, where she was an apprentice with the Ensemble Intercontemporain. She has given masterclasses at numerous universities and has served as a chamber music coach for programs at Juilliard Pre-College, New York Youth Symphony, SUNY Stony Brook, Columbia, and more.
“Molly Morkoski’s repertoire for our CHC performance demanded absolute precision and great sensitivity.” says McCloskey. “Undoubtedly, she displayed her giftedness with each composition she played. The climax of the afternoon’s performance came with the very challenging composition, Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante, Opus 22. Her keen interpretation made me feel that Frédéric Chopin was playing his composition!” The event was admired by Chestnut Hill community members and young musicians alike. “Molly Morkoski was just incredible.” says Suzanne del Gizzo, Ph.D., professor of English and chair of the Center for Integrated Humanities. “Her playing was scintillating, and yet her commentary was accessible. I felt invited into the music she played while at the same time, I was in awe of her skill—especially on that last Chopin piece!”
One of the College’s most beloved annual traditions, the Steinway Series has featured a plethora of incredibly talented and well-recognized musicians. But beyond that, it showcases the core strength of Chestnut Hill College’s liberal arts program, a program where music and the arts live in harmony with social and behavioral sciences, and much more. It also connects the College with the nearby town as members of the local community often make up a portion of the audence for the annual event.
“I love this event—not only because of what it says about the College and our commitment to the arts—but because I use it as "bonding" time with my 13-year-old daughter.” notes del Gizzo. She plays the piano, and for the last few years, she has accompanied me. We are making memories on these afternoons!”
Stay tuned for more information on next year’s Steinway Series concert. To watch previous concerts, visit the College’s YouTube page.
- Jaime Renman