For a music major, the senior recital is the culmination of four years of practice and study. It is a young musician’s thesis and research project and rite of passage into the professional world. It is an exciting and joyful time, yet also a nerve wracking and stressful endeavor to bring together an hour-long program to perform for faculty, family, and friends. Hundreds, even thousands of hours are spent alone in a practice room in an effort to learn the technique of reading and playing notes, developing the ability to express the emotion and meaning of the sound, and attempting to perfect the art of performance. The senior recital is an opportunity to share all this work with family and friends. Two of the Music Department’s seniors had this opportunity last weekend. CheyAnne Bigley, a music education major with a concentration in voice, gave her recital on Saturday, Nov. 4th and Jesse Lall, a composition major, presented his work in recital on Sunday, Nov. 5th.
CheyAnne Bigley is a student of Christine DeVault and her recital featured vocal pieces in four classical languages–French, English, Italian, and German–mostly on the theme of love. CheyAnne was accompanied by a family friend who has known her since grade school, Miss Virginia, making the experience even more meaningful for Bigley. Bigley’s stage presence was captivating, her expression telling the story of the love songs–joy and heartache, bliss and disappointment–as much as the text and the music itself. The work of Samuel Barber, a 20th century American composer, was prominent in Bigley’s program, which was no surprise. Certain composers seem to write especially for certain musicians. CheyAnne appears to have found that connection in Barber’s music. Her friends and accompanists would attest to her love for his work.
Jesse Lall’s recital showed that he has also found composers whose music speaks strongly to him. Throughout the compositions he presented in his recital, the artful use of dissonance and 20th century-style chord progressions were demonstrated his inspiration from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s and Dmitri Shostakovich’s work. Jesse’s recital reflected his focus on writing film scores and orchestrations throughout his time at Eastern. The program was a multimedia experience with film clips from The Matrix, The Phantom of the Opera and Mr. Bean for which he had been assigned to write his own version of the background music and sound effects. Lall’s program also featured a live performance of his musical setting of Robert Frost’s poem, “Fire and Ice,” for piano, oboe, cello, and voice, which was performed live by himself and three fellow music majors. He also announced that a piece that he wrote for wind ensemble is going to be premiered by a professional group called the Chione Quintet in the coming months. In addition to studying composition with his private instructor, Professor Steven Ford, Lall also took private lessons in voice. Lall says that when he came to Eastern he could barely match pitch, but Sunday afternoon was his world premiere as a vocalist.
Bigley and Lall approached their recitals from very different perspectives, as Bigley’s recital displayed her interpretation of others’ compositions and Lall’s was a presentation of his own work. But evident in both performances was how much of a community effort music-making is. Family, friends, accompanists and teachers were just as much a part of the production of the recitals as the students themselves were. Beautiful music of the quality presented by these two seniors is the culmination of teachers pouring out their knowledge and energy, family and friends providing love and support, and musicians coming alongside one another to create. As lonely as a practice room in Workman hall can become night after night, the pride and sense of accomplishment felt by family, friends, and especially professors who worked so closely with Bigley and Lall in their studies, shows that their journeys were not entirely their own. As both seniors acknowledged, they could only stand on the stage with confidence in their musical abilities because of the people who taught them to do both life and music well.