Musicians strut their stuff at Whitman’s Fridays at Four

The series is free and open to the public, though sometimes it is standing room only.

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Classical guitarist Michael Partington takes a moment to interact with his audience during a recent concert at Whitman College. Partington, the director of guitar studies at University of Washington, played a number of solo pieces from Spain, Italy and the United States.

WALLA WALLA — Classical music resounded at Whitman College’s Kimball Theatre on Friday for what it is hoped will be the standard for the Fridays at Four concert series.

“We want to give them (students) the gift of hearing professional musicians and their own faculty, and you need an intimate space for that really,” senior lecturer in music Jackie Wood said.

On Friday at 4 p.m., some of the professional classical music included the distinctly Spanish Flamenco style with a strong French impressionistic influence that is characteristic of the music of Joaquin Turina.

That music was played by world renowned and Seattle-based classical guitarist Michael Partington.

“I love to play here. The guitars do so well here, I think it sounds fantastic,” Partington said, after having played for about an hour in the recital hall that seats roughly 100.

Other familiar college sounds will still be regularly heard in the hall, including the drone of lecturer’s voices, the excitement of students debating, the voices of music majors performing arias, the Whitman jazz ensembles, and even the din of campus clubs as they hold regular meetings in the hall that also doubles as a movie theater.

But when it comes to Fridays at Four, starting next year the music department will hold fewer concerts to try to have a larger budget to accommodate more visiting classical artists like Partington.

The goal is to not only provide access to accomplished musicians and their music, but to allow students to experience that music in a venue that needs no amplification and yet amplifies the connection between performer and listener.

“It is very informal and the performers talk to the people and it is more interactive,” Kimball Theatre coordinator Kristi Von Handorf, 20, said.

Even more, the Fridays at Four series is free and open to the public, though sometimes it is standing room only.

“It’s a very popular series and we hope it will continue to be ... It’s a great little hall for just friendly intimate high quality music of all kinds,” Wood said.

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