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Recital features world dance, song

Megan Loney | Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For the fourth year in a row, the Little Theatre was filled with the sounds of music from all over the world, as students performed a variety of international songs and dances as part of the Modern Language Recital.

“This showcase began as an end-of-semester assignment for my students to present to their class,” said Saint Mary’s professor Marianne Hahn, the founder of the recital. “One year, I had three sopranos in my class, and I thought that they should perform for an audience and not just for the other students in the class.”

Hahn had her students perform as part of the recital that year and has continued it ever since.

But she did not have any students connected with the music department this year, so she contacted the department to see if any of the students would be willing to perform as part of the Modern Language recital this year.

Senior McKayela Collins, a music major with a focus on vocal performance, was interested and organized the entire music portion of the recital and sang a German piece by composer Clara Schumann. Collins is familiar with singing in other languages, as her major requires her to be proficient in singing in Italian, French and German. She sometimes does pieces in Spanish or Russian.

“I chose this song because I wanted it to benefit students taking [German],”Collins said. “I thought it would be good for them to hear it and challenge themselves to understand the lyrics.”

This piece is one of the songs Collins will perform in her February recital of all-female composers.

The first part of the recital, organized by Collins, consisted of music sung and played by Saint Mary’s students. These students were recommended to Collins from various professors in the music department.

Nine students enrolled in Chinese 101 sang “You and Me,” the theme from the 2008 Bejing Olympic games. These students learned the song during their Chinese language class.

“We learned the song in the first couple of weeks in class,” freshman Maria Spyhalski said. “After our professor told us about the showcase, some of us volunteered to perform the song.”

Spyhalski began studying Chinese this year was excited to sing in the language.

“I love the spotlight,” she said. “And I love Chinese. I know that nobody probably understood what we were singing, but it was a very exhilarating experience. I will absolutely participate next year.”

There were a total of seven songs sung in Chinese, French, Italian and German and one traditional Chinese song played by sophomore Chen Chen on the guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument.

Freshman Molly Wilson attended the recital to receive extra credit for her language class, but enjoyed herself.

“I came to get extra credit for Italian class, but it was an enriching experience,” Wilson said. “My favorite part was the Chinese musical instrument. I had never heard anything like it before.”

The second portion of the recital featured five dance numbers from around the world: Mexico, China, Myanmar and Spain. Sophomore Jingqiu Guan organized this part of the recital and performed a Chinese classical dance titled “The Color of Beauty.”

Guan, who has been dancing since the age of three, said she thought cultural events such as this one are important.

“I think the most important thing is to broaden the audience’s mind,” Guan said. “It is important to the people who are learning languages because culture is a major part of the language.”