Professor Michael Palumbo played through the pain in his last faculty recital on Monday.
“I broke my finger when I dropped a 30-pound weight on it at the gym during exercise,” Palumbo said. “I’m playing on it because I have no choice.”
His broken finger was on his left hand, which he uses to press the string against the neck of his viola, making it extremely painful, according to him.
“I think he’s crazy for doing that,” said Tara Hoellein, one of Palumbo’s students. “All of us are saying, ‘You shouldn’t be doing this, you could damage it permanently,’ but he’s amazing, so he did it anyway. It hurts to play even when I prick my finger, but he played a whole recital on a broken finger. I’m a little jealous of that.”
Hoellein, a instrumental music education major who has been Palumbo’s student for two years, said she enjoyed his performance.
“It’s really funny to see him perform,” she said. “When I watch him, I see that the quirks that I have he has too. It’s funny to see where I got them.”
All quirks aside, Hoellein said she loves Palumbo’s performances and admires his skill.
“When I watch him, I almost go into a trance. He’s so good,” she said. “His bow hand, especially. And he makes funny faces.”
The viola program featured three composers: J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, and a modern composer, Rachel Matthews. Hoellein said she had some favorite pieces from the recital.
“I loved Brahms’ ‘Gestillte Sehnusucht,'” she said. “That whole set was really diverse and quite pretty. His last piece, ‘Dreams for Viola and Piano,’ was my favorite. It was commissioned for an ASTA (American String Teachers Association) conference in 2010.”
Despite the fantastic performance, the recital had a minor hiccup. The house management was apparently seating people in the middle of a performance. While this might be appropriate at a movie or more casual concert, it is not usually done in a formal recital. Hoellein said she was particularly perturbed.
“I didn’t like how people kept walking in. He played his first Bach piece, and it has six or seven movements. Us music people know better than that, but I thought the house would too. But they let people in in between movements. I didn’t like it. It’s not what you’re supposed to do. But no cell phones went off, so that’s good.”
This was the last of Palumbo’s solo performances.
“(Monday) was my final solo recital at WSU,” Palumbo said. “I intend to continue performing chamber music concerts with other faculty, with the Browning String Quartet and with groups of WSU, but I will no longer do solo performances.”
Palumbo will still be the director of the Weber State University Orchestra and a prominent member of the faculty.