Echoes and Reflections: Dr. Jim Doering’s Performance Dazzles R-MC Music Room


Randolph-Macon College music professor and Department of Arts chairman, Dr. James M. Doering. (Photographed by: Randolph-Macon College)

Anna Darling and Colin Hawthorne


On March 5th, 2023, Dr. James Doering, a music professor, and the Department of Arts chair at Randolph-Macon College, presented “Echoes and Reflections: A Recital of American Works” in Haun Rehearsal Haul to a room full of excited guests, who were ready to hear his collection of pieces from different time periods and cultures in the United States.


His first song, “Piano Man 5,” by Chick Corea, was loosely inspired by Mozart, though Corea’s expertise was in jazz improvisation. Known as a “Jazz Legend,” Corea won 27 Grammys in his lifetime. Dr. Doering’s performance was light and fresh; a perfect way to start the show.


“Troubled Water” by Margaret Bonds was next. Dr. Doering chose this song because of its history: Bonds was a participant in the Civil Rights Movement and used music to inspire hope “in a climate of tremendous racism.”


Then, Dr. Doering played “Crystal Preludes” by Reena Esmail, an Indian-American composer who wrote “music that connects the…traditions of India and the West.” While introducing her, Doering explained her connection to R-MC. Dr. Doering performed three sections: (I) Oscillating Figures, (II) Mishra Vibhas Melody, and (III) Vachaspati/Bhup.


Next was James Booker’s “Gonzo’s Blue Dream.” Booker, a well-renowned musician in New Orleans, specialized in both classical and rock music along with many other genres. Though he mostly played renditions of his favorite artists, Booker composed this song among other originals as well.


The oldest song on the set list, “Revery Op. 31,” was composed by Margaret Ruthven Lang in 1899. She was “the first woman to have work premiered by the Boston Symphony.” After this song, Dr. Doering walked off the stage to take a short break.


On his return, Dr. Doering played five sections of “Etudes for Piano, Book I” by Philip Glass. “Twenty Etudes for Piano,” where these sections originated, took Glass eleven years to write. After, Dr. Doering took his bow and left, only to be recalled for an encore song, Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.”


The crowd was fully engaged; many people cheered, many students shared shocked expressions, and many viewers used their phones and cameras to record the magical evening. Dr. Doering’s performance captured the essence of American music well, showing a beautiful range of sounds and experiences.


Doering and a few others had more to say about the performance after it took place.


“A piano recital, an interesting one in my view, is one that has some sort of theme that’s going on,” said Doering. “I wanted to focus on music from the United States, and the diversity of it. I also tried to pick people and pieces that don’t get played very much.”


“I wasn’t expecting such a big turnout,” said Annie Humphrey (’24), an R-MC musician and music minor.  “We had to get extra chairs and make sure everybody had a seat. That was really nice that so many people came out on the weekend to hear his performance.”


“Dr. Doering plays piano well, and I was really interested to hear him play another repertoire,” said Aidan Hamilton (’25), an R-MC musician and music major.  “It was nice to see him do stuff that was just different from what I normally hear in class.”


“I told [Dr. Doering] after the concert I had never seen nor heard music move through somebody like that before,” said Humphrey “And he was really happy to hear that.”


Doering has a doctorate in musicology and a master’s degree in piano. Ever since he was young, the piano has had a presence in his life.


“I first took piano lessons when I was seven years old,” said Doering. “I came back to it when I was in college, and I took some lessons just for fun as a side thing, and then I realized I was spending so many hours doing it, and I started to think ok so how could I do this? How could I make music my career?


“He can just look at the sheet music and pretty much get it,” said Hamilton. “He’s really good at sight reading.”


Doering also performed “Echoes and Reflections” at the University of Mary Washington on Friday, March 17th, 2023.