Experimental is what the USF faculty ensemble told the audience that filled almost two-thirds of the seats of the USF Concert Hall to expect from Saturday evenings performance.
The atmosphere was exactly what transpired at the Tubacellolicious faculty recital, but was far more than that. The concert was formal, yet fun and playful to watch as the audience became connected to each piece.
The cellist, Scott Kluksdahl, formed a quartet with Jay Hunsberger, a tuba player, Dharshini Tambiah, a pianist, and Robert McCormick, a percussionist.
Kluksdahl, a USF cello professor, said he always wanted to play with Hunsberger, a professor of tuba and euphorium, but said finding pieces for the cello and the tuba was a challenge since there are not many pieces composed for these two instruments together.
But they pulled off the challenge, presenting an unforgettable night that might as well have been held in Carnegie Hall.
While uncommon for the cello and tuba to duet in a piece, the performers proved these instruments can work together and work well.
The group started by playing an upbeat piece written for the cello, tuba and piano to launch the recital into a festive mood.
Accompanied by Tambiah for most of the pieces and McCormick, a music professor, for the Microtrio piece, the group played heartfelt pieces while swinging their bodies along as the mood of the music moved up and down, transforming themselves into part of the song.
Hunsberger fiercely blew on each note while Kluksdahl aggressively strummed on his strings as if talking back and forth to each other, holding an enthusiastic, engaging conversation while Tambiah and McCormick added the background ambience.
Between songs, the musicians spoke to the audience and even joked around a bit. They treated the audience less like observers and more like family as they told their stories.
They said they decided to come together to play because musicians are constantly looking for an opportunity to duet with other great musicians.
Both admitted they had no idea as to how the pieces would come off, but that they wanted some kind of reaction from the audience.
What they received was an overwhelming, warm response from the audience, who loved each piece, demonstrating their appreciation by clapping enthusiastically at the end of each song.
Before their last piece, Double Concerto for Cello and Tuba, Hunsberger told a story of how he met with the composer, James Grant, and Grants wife, Elizabeth Siegfried, who worked as a photographer.
Hunsberger made the comparison of how Grants piece was unexpected because Grants wife had given him the link to her photography work, which presented pictures of herself naked.
After the audience heartily laughed at the comparison and Hunsberger finished his slice of life story, the musicians dived into the piece, thoroughly engaging with it head on, with no signs of hesitation.
As each note rose and fell, they never failed to capture the crowd, even through the final discombobulated part of the piece. When they sealed the night with the last note, the crowd wildly clapped and cheered.