Polk’s Voices of the People Concerts Begin Sept. 7

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

The second season of Polk State’s Voices of the People performing arts series begins at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 at the College’s Winter Haven Fine Arts Theatre.

Voices of the People, a joint effort by the College’s Philosophy Club and SALO (Student Activities and Leadership Office) began last fall, and included performances throughout the county that combined classical music and philosophical readings.

“With Voices of the People, we’re offering the community high-caliber chamber music performances, from Bach to Mendelssohn, blended with the readings of philosophers who tie into the music,” said Polk State Humanities Professor Derek Menchan, also an accomplished cellist, who organizes Voices of the People.

“The audiences last year were very pleased. It was definitely a success.”

This year, Menchan said, the concert series will feature a larger number of musicians, many of whom don’t know one another. The element of unfamiliarity will make for an especially exciting audience experience.

“The musicians will come together under the umbrella of one composer and build and meld ourselves to one another,” Menchan said. “There will be a buildup of expectation and excitement, waiting for the next concert, when more friendships and connections will be made.”

As with the first season, Polk State students will deliver the philosophical readings during the concerts.

The first concert of this year’s series is titled “In the Beginning Was the Logos” and will feature the music of Bach and readings of Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who taught that everything is constantly changing, and Parmenides who disagreed entirely, believing that change was impossible.

“Bach’s music is the union of opposites. He tends to blend together notes that wouldn’t normally go together and makes them complementary instead of contradictory,” Menchan said. “It’s a perfect pairing for two philosophers that were complete opposites.”

As it relates to philosophy, the word “logos” means the rational principle that governs and develops the universe. It’s a word that would have sparked heated discussion between Heraclitus, Parmenides and Bach, a devout Lutheran, Menchan said.

In addition to Menchan, the first concert will feature musicians including:

  • Grace Juliano, a cellist and music teacher who frequently plays with The Florida Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic, and Opera Tampa.
  • Scott Kluksdahl, a cellist who made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony and has played throughout the U.S., Europe, Israel and Central and South America.
  • Dee Moses, the principal double-bass player of The Florida Orchestra since 1975.
  • Patty Muller, who has served as a rehearsal accompanist, organist and harpsichordist for the Messiah Association of Winter Haven and the Bach Festival of Central Florida.
  • Taliaferro Nash, violist who attended schools including the Eastman School of Music, The Juilliard School and the University of Massachusetts and who has performed throughout the U.S. and abroad.
  • Carl St. Jacques, a violist who has performed in more than 20 countries and most of the U.S., including with the Florida Grand Opera.
  • Violinist Francisco Salazar Vara, who trained at The Juilliard School and has performed throughout Europe and North and South America.

Voices of the People concerts are free for all students with ID; all others are $5.

In addition to the Sept. 7 concert, several of the musicians will gather at Polk State Lakeland, in room LAC 1133, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 5.

The pre-concert event, titled “Ah, Bach,” will kick off the College’s Philosophy Club season. It is open to all and free to attend. During the event, the musicians will play and discuss Bach.

“It’s a great way to introduce these great artists and spread this event across the two campuses,” Menchan said.