We don’t know the true definition of impressive until we have seen Aaron Hill play the oboe.

Sarah Goodnow / Nevada Mugwort
Aaron Hill performs a solo oboe act for his “Pandemic Projects” recital in the Harlan O & Barbara R. Hall Recital Hall at the University of Nevada, Reno.

On September 21 at 7:30 p.m., Hill performed a recital of classical oboe arrangements in the Harlan O. and Barbara Hall Recital Hall located at the University of Nevada, Reno’s University Arts Building. The arrangements were the ones he had worked on during the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was accompanied on stage by graduate student Alexandra Gordon on oboe and former student Tristan Selzler on piano.

From the start of the event, Hill performed a solo arrangement of “Partita for Violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004” originally by Johann Sebastian Bach. He took on the almost impossible challenge of playing the four movements “Allemande”, “Courante”, “Sarabande” and “Gigue” on the oboe. He was very successful with his fine production, using extreme diligence to stop as little as possible between movements.

Hill plays the entire collection of movements on his album “Solitary Discourse”, which can be found on Amazon Music.

After a short break, Hill returns on stage with Alexandra Gordon to play “Sonata No. 1 for Two Flutes in G major, TWV 40: 101” originally from George Philipp Telemann. They collaborated with grace, staying in sync through the four movements, “Soave”, “Allegro”, “Andante” and “Allegro”.

Sarah Goodnow / Nevada Mugwort
Aaron Hill and graduate student Alexandra Gordon perform a phenomenal duet.

The two oboe players had corresponding harmonies throughout the arrangement. However, there were some parts where you fell out of beat and the loss of good momentum would occur, but the musicians picked it up pretty quickly and their slippage was barely noticeable to the audience.

After those sets were over, there was a short intermission before Hill resumed the recital with two more solos.

Before his performance of “Canto notturno di un pastore errante dell’Asia”, Hill read a short excerpt from poem, written by Giacomo Leopardi. He read the English translation of the poem, since it was originally written in Italian. The music for the professor’s solo was composed by Sebastian Birch in 2021. The piece was a bit chaotic and emotional with constant changes in pitches, ending in a sad, lonely harmony.

Hill then performed a short composition titled “Raindrops” by William Jae, a composer who is only nineteen. The 2020 coin was the most unique of all the coins. He even warned the audience before playing that the aerial and multiphonic sounds on the oboe would be common with this piece, but they were “on purpose”. At first the sounds of the air were calm and closely resembled the sounds of rain droplets landing. Then the piece began, offering the audience some appealing harmonies, with high volume heights to keep everyone enthralled. Multiphonics sound a bit unnatural, but fit perfectly into the room.

Then the original composition of Jeremiah Evans of “A little shimmy” was performed by Hill. The music had the most sassy feel of all the rooms. It was a short piece but had its own attitude, energy and personality written between the lines.

Then the accompanying pianist, Selzler, took the stage with Hill to collaborate on the piece. “Transformation in the Age of COVID, Mvt. II; G minor “ which was composed by Selzler in 2021. The song featured an excellent dialogue between piano and oboe. The two musicians matched the tempo and were in a good tuning range so that they didn’t overlap in volume. There was even a section where Selzler performed a solo portion of the piece, which was an inviting listening.

A man dressed in black plays the black piano on a wooden recital stage next to a man in a suit who plays the oboe.

Sarah Goodnow / Nevada Mugwort
Former student Tristan Selzler on piano and Aaron Hill on oboe create a captivating piece with the combination of their instruments.

The overall attitude of the song was sad and sweet which does a great job of summing up feelings and thoughts on memories of COVID. There were also chaotic and dramatic notes played in the middle of the room, so their inclusion was well integrated which clearly represented the ups and downs of the pandemic.

Before their last arrangement, the three musicians all came back together to do a bit of improvisation. Improvising can be difficult for some players, but these three impressively read each other’s cues and emotions. There was no overlap, no eruptive volume and the collaboration was impressive overall.

For their great finish, the three collaborators played “The boy of nature”, composed by Eden Ahbez and arranged by Hill. The combination of two oboes and a jazz piano gave the impression of dancing the tango. It had a sexy appeal that had an upbeat tone and sounded very contemporary and modern. This song was just the right touch and a great way to end the gig to leave the audience satisfied.

Overall, the three performers did an exquisite job with their arrangements and had many awesome moments to keep the audience tuned in to their elegant pieces.

Jaedyn Young can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @ jaedyn_young3.

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