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Seniors give recitals at SMC

Katie Kohler | Monday, April 30, 2007

While their classmates write papers and complete exams on their way to graduation, senior vocal performance majors at Saint Mary’s face a different final obstacle – the senior recital.

Laurel Thomas, associate professor of music and the voice and opera instructor in the department, said the recitals are a unique experience for seniors.

“This has been one of the most wonderful years of my teaching career, due in great part to these four students who have been such a privilege and a joy to teach,” she said.

This year, the performance majors are Katelyn Wood, Mallory O’Brien, Erin Anhut and Lindsey Anderson.

Not all music majors are required to give a recital, although they are required to complete composition projects, which are “an in-depth historical and theoretical analysis of a composition,” Thomas said.

“Only the performance majors are required to give a full-length senior recital,” she said.

Each semester, these performance majors are also required to perform a “jury” in front of the music department faculty. A jury involves a high-level performance of the repertoire studied each semester, Anderson said. Performance majors are required to perform half a recital their junior year and a full recital senior year.

“All of these requirements are what contribute to an exceptional department that is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM),” she said.

Thomas’ role is to help them choose their repertoire.

“Students sing arias and songs from four historical time periods in four languages – Italian, French, German and English,” she said.

This requirement is a daunting task for the seniors.

“Being a senior music major and preparing for a recital is both demanding and exciting,” Wood said. “Not only do we have to learn how to speak clearly in different languages, but we also have to know each translation of the musical text and how to relate it to the audience.”

Wood’s recital was based on folk songs in Czech and Russian as well as the four required languages.

“This year, every one of my students chose repertoire very specific to her personality and vocal strengths,” Thomas said. “Mallory [O’Brien] loves the smoky salon music of Poulenc and the voluptuous melodies of Strauss. Erin [Anhut] stole the show with her comic abilities throughout her recital and, while singing beautifully, gave the most convincing portrayal of the Doll’s aria from Tales of Hoffman that I have ever seen or heard.”

She had similar praise for Anderson.

“Lindsey [Anderson] is headed for a professional career,” she said. “On Sunday, she [sang] one of the most exquisite song cycles of Schumann.”

Besides the performance itself, seniors are also wholly responsible for planning and executing their recitals.

“Planning for the recital requires much more work than many people realize,” Anderson said. “In addition to singing, the performers have to design posters, arrange for technical assistance in the theater, handle all publicity and plan a reception if they choose to have one. Even though it is a lot of work, it is done with a smile.”

Wood planned her recital while at home over semester break.

“Unlike Lindsey [Anderson], I was not fundraising and handled everything at home,” Wood said. “My parents and voice teacher helped me.”

Anderson relied on assistance from the communications department to publicize her recital.

“I am very fortunate to have [public relations commissioner] Alanna Chiefari to help with publicity,” she said. “Her knowledge of public relations has been so helpful and a wonderful way to create a liaison between our two departments.”