Musicians perform “An Invalid’s Sonnet” at FMU


Photo by: Christina Xan

Mark Snyder, a professor at the University of Mary Washington, incorporates a plethora of instruments such as the accordion, clarinet, theremin and piano. He was joined by two of his former students.

Incorporating a variety of art forms, “The Invalid’s Sonnet,” presented its audience with a live music, video and poetry performance.

Three musicians – Mark Snyder, Becky Brown and Paige Naylor – performed during “The Invalid’s Sonnet,” which took place on Jan. 26 in the Hyman Fine Arts Center.

Snyder is a professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia where he met Brown and Naylor who were his students.

During the show, Snyder played a variety of instruments including the accordion, clarinet, theremin and piano. Brown played the harp, and Naylor sang soprano.

In between each song, Snyder told stories about writing the songs, his life as a musician and teacher and his work with other musicians and students.

Freshman pre-nursing major Dnasia Holmes said that hearing information about the musicians and the stories behind the pieces made the live performance more enjoyable than a recording.

“It’s different watching it live than hearing it on the TV or radio,” Holmes said. “You get to feel more. It’s more relatable. It was cool hearing the background stories about how the pieces were created because usually when you listen to music, you don’t hear the stories.”

As the prequel to one of Snyder’s songs accompanied by a video, he described a particularly difficult time in his life when a friend of his died. Snyder said that he was thankful to have music as an outlet to express his emotions.

“While music didn’t fix it, by going around and playing this piece and talking about it, it really helped change me,” Snyder said. “I’m glad that I had music. I was really lucky that I had this thing, this crutch.”

Snyder told the audience to try to find something to turn to in moments of sadness or pain, even if it isn’t music.

“Maybe you’ll go through your lives and never need it,” Snyder said. “I hope you don’t, but have something that can help you, maybe writing, painting, music, basketball, something that is going ot get you to that point to get you through the hump.”

Freshman psychology major Narasia Dixon said that this point particularly resonated with her. Dixon began playing the cello at age 9.

“When you play, all of your emotions flow into what you are playing, so my goto is playing an instrument, whether it’s cello or piano,” Dixon said.

Growing up, Dixon’s love for music moved her to play in band and in an orchestra. Now, as a freshman at FMU, it also moved her to see the live performance of “The Invalid’s Sonnet.”

“For me, it was a new experience,” Dixon said about her first FMU Artist Series event. “When I’ve been to concerts, there were hundreds of other people. But, the intimate setting and stories was an eye-opener.”

Holmes said that her favorite part of the evening was Brown’s poetry reading accompanied by her live-performance drawing. While Brown played the harp for most of the performance, she showed a different set of talents during her performance of “Hold Still.”

“It was something different that I have never seen before, and it engaged different aspects of me,” Holmes said. “I got to see what she was drawing and the symbolization and at the same time feel the emotion behind it.”

Seeing “The Invalid’s Sonnet” was Holmes’s first time at a live performance, and she said she would like to come back to more performances at FMU.

After the performance, Dixon and Holmes accompanied other FMU students, faculty and guests who stayed to talk with the performers. The performers encouraged the audience to ask them questions about the equipment used during the show.