By Allie Burks
The Commerce Journal
The patio of the Pride Coffee Shop was alive with the sound of music last Friday night as both students from Texas A&M University-Commerce and professional musicians performed for Commerce residents.
The event, which took place on the corner of Bois d’Arc and Lee streets, was the first “Art in the Evening” program. Performers ranged from Texas A&M University-Commerce music majors to a professional violinist and opera singer.
Open mic started at 6 p.m. A group of music majors came with an array of instruments including saxophones, a piano, and a laptop with a looping program. The musicians jammed as the audience came in and out of the store buying food and coffee and eventually settled down to around 30 members in time for violinist Hubert Pralitz, who has travelled the world playing in concert halls.
Pralitz played several songs with a brief intermission accompanied by pianist James Williams, a music major at A&M-Commerce pursuing a master’s degree. Opera singer Damon K. Clark shared a piece from the opera “Xerxes” before Pralitz continued his performance. The crowd left the night of music to the sounds of a jazz ensemble comprised of more music majors.
“Art in the Evening” was started by Williams, who wanted to create an atmosphere for artists of every medium to gather and share their work. He is among a group of music majors from Commerce who frequently attend open mics in Dallas and wanted to enjoy similar events closer to home.
“I wanted to create a series called “Art in the Evening,” which would be an inter-disciplinary night of art,” Williams said. “I’m glad that it is working in Commerce. I would like to take it to different cities.”
Williams teaches at the Rockwall School of Music, which is where he met Pralitz. The two soon began collaborating.
“James asked me to come to the first open mic and I’m glad I did,” Pralitz said. “To have a classical stage like this and bring it to people and make it personal with a setting like this is a great experience for a musician who can feed from the audience.”
The small atmosphere allowed the audience and musicians to exchange energy and led to a successful first night.
“Playing in a small setting like this as opposed to a traditional concert hall is a fresh way to enjoy pieces that have been played to audiences for centuries,” Pralitz said. “Standing up there, I could almost hear the heartbeats of the audience while I was playing; creating a symphony of heartbeats.”