Shawn Copeland: A Performance For The World

Hannah Hall 
Staff Writer

On Thursday, January 30th clarinet player Shawn Copeland returned to his alma mater and performed at the UNCG School of Music’s Tew Recital Hall. The two hour long performance was filled with a myriad of different musical pieces. From original pieces inspired by events that were impactful to his personal life to classic Bernstein pieces, the performance told a story of hope in a world that seems riddled with tragedy. Shawn Copeland is an alumni of the UNCG School of Music and has gone on to hold many prestigious positions in the music world. He has played for symphonies in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and Orlando. Copeland is also known for founding the Tosca Duo and the Relevents Wind Quartet. For the last few years Copeland has spent his time teaching clarinet at universities including UNCG, High Point University, Coastal Carolina University, and most recently the University of Idaho. The program was kicked off by Copeland himself explaining his choice in pieces and reasons behind each piece. Copeland’s performance included three pieces which varied in message and mood. The pieces included “Eternal Garden” by David Maslanka, 

“Bernstein Sonata” by Leonard Bernstein, and “Pulse” by Copeland and Carlos Lorez. All of these three pieces, all though vastly different, came together to tell an inspiring story. 

The first piece, “Eternal Garden”, is a four movement piece which plays off of the theme of historical events, such as the bombing of Hiroshima. The piece is incredibly somber and overall brings a feeling of sadness for the world with it. “Eternal Garden” is an hour long piece which carries large amounts of emotions in every second and leaves room for reflection on the world we live in. Both Copeland and the audience were stilled to silence at the piece’s conclusion. 

The next piece, “Bernstein’s Sonata,” is much more upbeat. In his introduction, Copeland noted he chose the piece to perform due to Leonard Bernstein’s work on “West Side Story,” in which race relations in America are a major theme and how his music reflects this. The token jazzy sound Bernstein is known for brought a lighter mood to the performance after opening with such a heavy piece. 

Lastly, Copeland closed the program with an original piece titled “Pulse”. This piece was written in reflection of the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2015. Copeland himself spoke of being both a Floridian and a member of the LGBT community and thus this piece was birthed in his sadness. Each of the three movements was inspired by and named after various LGBT spots in Orlando where Copeland spent much of his younger years. Instead of the somber route the opening piece possessed, “Pulse” took on a more bright mood and honored those it was dedicated to rather than mourning them. 

The performance was filled with truth to who Copeland is, and an overall feeling of inspiration. The flow of moods from somber to hopeful brought the theme of the program full circle. Copeland’s performance closed with a much deserved standing ovation from the audience and a lasting impact everyone in the audience will feel for months to come. 

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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