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Friday, Jun 2, 2023
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Texas mother travels four states to watch son play at Townsend Honors Recital

Caption: Zhihao Wu plays an emotional and expressive version of "Cello Suite in E-flat Major" by Johann Sebastian Bach on cello.
Caption: Zhihao Wu plays an emotional and expressive version of "Cello Suite in E-flat Major" by Johann Sebastian Bach on cello.

Diann Hutcheson and her father came in from Texas to watch her son, Brayden, play saxophone in the Townsend School of Music Honor Recital.

The pair have been in town since Easter weekend.

“If my boy’s playing, I’m coming,” Diann Brayden said.

She said that it is her son’s first time being invited to play at the event.

Townsend’s honor recital took place on April 5 in Newton Chapel in part of the BEAR Day festivities.

The recital features one organist, one instrumentalist, one string player and a student vocalist.

Mercer saxophonist Brayden Hutcheson was the chosen instrumentalist for this year’s program.

“It’s always nice to have a familiar face in the audience,” said the Mercer saxophonist about his mother and grandfather sitting in the pews of the chapel.

“Concerto in E-flat Major” by Alexander Glazunov was Brayden Hutcheson’s recital choice.

“It’s hard,” Brayden Hutcheson said.

The Glazunov composition is an elaborate 15-minute concerto paired with piano that requires rapid fingering on the saxophone and long sustained breaths.

Brayden Hutcheson plays with his whole body and a bend of the knees. He has a great sense of musicality and style.

The jazz instrument gave this classical piece a blues tonality.

In addition to Brayden Hutcheson, student organist Richard Gress performed a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in E minor.”

Newton Chapel houses a specially designed Holtkamp pipe organ, one of the largest on the Eastern seaboard, delivering a grand organ experience.

Gress sways on the organ stool with the music, looking intently in front of him and nodding when he is ready for the sheet music to be turned.

Nicholas Spooner sang tenor, accompanied by Camille Bishop on piano.

Spooner has beautiful control of his voice and tender moments with the ritardandos in the music.  

The Mercer tenor sang four selections for his portion of the recital.

A musical standout from the performance were his excerpts from “Moore’s Irish Melodies” arranged by Benjamin Britten.

Notes sat well on Spooner’s voice creating a light and refreshing tone to the lyric line.

Senior Zhihao Wu gave a fantastically wild and intense performance on cello at the recital.

The McDuffie Center for Strings cellist performed “Toccata Capricciosa for Cello, Opus 3” by Miklós Rósza as part of his repertoire.

The energetic and invigorating piece turned the bow into a sword creating a fiery sound.

Closing his eyes during the performance, Wu’s playing sucked audience members into an amazing-to-watch solo.

After the recital concluded, Brayden Hutcheson united with his family in the audience.

Brayden Hutcheson’s parents were both musicians in college. His father became a band director.

He said that music is predominant in his family.

According to Diann Hutcheson, her son wants to become a band director after studying at Mercer, like his father.

“Whatever our children are doing, we are coming to support them,” Diann Hutcheson said.


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