Music Department’s noontime concert series draws local, distant talent

Posted September 29, 2015

Noontime on the UW-River Falls campus can become hectic, with people rushing toward class or heading for the lunch line. The Music Department’s Coffee Concert series offers a respite.

The idea is simple: On select Fridays this year, the department will be holding small, hour-long concerts where professors and talent from Minnesota, Wisconsin and anywhere else are invited to play for students and the public. After the performance, coffee and treats will be served.

Among the people most excited for this is the one who started it all, Music Department Chair Kris Tjornehoj. She said she wanted her music students to experience the talent of musicians from far away.

When asking musicians to come play on campus, Tjornehoj was given the idea of having concerts on a specific time on Fridays when people are just getting out of classes, or have a long stretch of free time. The Coffee Concert was created and has seen consistently good turnouts since its conception.

“The Coffee Concert Series has become golden,” she said. “It’s convenient, it is easy, and it’s creating a community amongst the patrons at River Falls.”

Tjornehoj also stressed the importance of the people that the department gets for these concerts, promoting what she said are first-class musicians. Artists from on campus get first picks, however.

“I would say the Coffee Concert is built on connections, friendships, quality musicians, and that spirit of willing opportunity from other artists.”

One such example of the concerts held was on Sept. 25, featuring the performances of UW-River Falls Professor David Milne and jazz pianist Laura Caviani. Caviani herself was ecstatic at the thought of doing a small concert such as this.

“This is one of my favorite halls to play in; the acoustics are wonderful, and the piano is lovely,” she said in an email interview. “The River Falls community is so generous and supportive of the arts. I feel lucky to have been a welcomed visitor of this community for so many years.”

Caviani and Milne did a duet for the performance, and were met with much applause. Audience reactions were also vivid.

“I really enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting, I hadn’t really listened to a Jazz concert before, so that was different for me,” said one woman who attended.

“In general, it was absolutely fantastic,” answered a man after the concert. “I loved every minute of it.”

The next in the Coffee Concert series will be held on Oct. 9, featuring clarinetist Sarah Powell Lee, and like all of the concerts will be open to the public. Tjornehoj said more performances will be announced later in the school year.

“You will find that people are thrilled to get first-class talent at UW-River Falls for no fee,” she said, “and coffee and treats afterwards, and it is everything that could possibly be good in the world.”