Pair captivates MTSU Honors College audience with ...

Pair captivates MTSU Honors College audience with ‘beautiful’ music

As his wife, soprano Julie Ferris, waits, professor, musician and music historian Mark Rimple, left, tunes his lute before their Nov. 25 MTSU Honors College recital in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

The husband-and-wife music duo of Mark Rimple and Julie Ferris ended the MTSU Honors College fall lecture series on a high note with a special concert following a presentation by Rimple.

An hourlong concert featured Rimple playing the lute — a pineapple-shaped stringed instrument — and Murfreesboro native Ferris singing soprano, entertaining an audience assembled in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building amphitheatre Nov. 25.

“We gave a recital of music that’s about the soul, but about a rational ordered soul from the Renaissance and Middle Ages,” Rimple said of the concert.

The recital, titled “Beauté Parfaite,” or “perfect beauty,” tied in to the fall lecture series theme of “Beauty.”

When asked how his musical concept of beauty tied into the lecture series, Rimple said, “Beauty, originally in this sort of Renaissance/medieval and back to antiquity … in that mindset, beauty is rational, ordered. It’s a reflection of an ordered universe, of a cosmos that’s tuned to the same ratios as the human soul and that music is a reflection of that.

“Whereas in the Expressionist period in the 20th century,” he continued, “the idea is that what’s in the soul is a glimpse of another world we can’t understand logically. It’s something that’s much more wild and untamed and, in a way, not mathematically analyzable.”

Rimple, a professor of music theory at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, brought art, music and historical perspective to his presentation. His lecture, titled “Returning the Soul: Concepts of Beauty in Expressionist Music, Art and Literature,” primarily was for MTSU students taking the fall lecture series class but also was open to the public.

West Chester University professor of music theory Mark Rimple gestures while addressing the audience attending the MTSU Honors Lecture Series talk on “Beauté Parfaite,” or “perfect beauty,” Nov. 25 in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building amphitheatre.

The professor of music theory at West Chester University in Pennsylvania said his lecture was on “use of the soul, (and) reason for artistic innovation around 1912.”

Rimple utilized a PowerPoint featuring artwork and music and seemed to captivate his audience with his knowledge of history and delivery.

Alex Duross, a sophomore English and psychology double major from Murfreesboro, had a full appreciation of Rimple’s perspective.

“When you listen to somebody and the way they speak is so intelligent, there’s such a love and understanding of what they do,” said Duross, who typed in notes on her laptop from Rimple’s talk.

“In the 21st century and 2013, we think that the ideas of circumventing boundaries, of rejecting order, of living the moment, that those are ours,” Duross added.

“The millennials, the generation before us, that’s what we bring to the table is rejecting everything that everyone else ever came up with; but it’s not because the world is both ordered and abstract, and these thoughts and these ponderings and this art are not something new. It’s very old.”

Rimple and Ferris presented love songs from Machaut’s “Remede de Fortune” and from the lute ayre collections of Thomas Campion, John Dowland, Francis Pilkington and Alfonso Ferrabosco, a collaborator in Ben Jonson’s masques.

In addition to her father, Norman Ferris, who served on the MTSU history faculty for 35 years before retiring in 1997, Julie Ferris’s other family members attending the event included sisters Cheryl Manier of Murfreesboro and Adrian Johnson of Fort Worth, Texas; brother-in-law Larry Johnson; and nephew Matthew Johnson.

— Randy Weiler (