Recital season. Few words spark such fear and erratic behavior in music students, particularly seniors. This is the time of year that many senior and junior performance majors must put on their own recitals, with a wide repertoire that should show off the beauty and technique they’ve developed on their instruments. And of course, any good recital has some degree of collaboration with other students or music faculty. To the average recital-goer, it’s just a chance to hear peers perform.
Not all music students are required to put on a recital under their own name, but by their final year, many find it a satisfying culmination of their private studies and an empowering personal opportunity. Students that must put on their own recital for their degree need to trust in their work with their private teachers, carefully choose what rep to share and make time in their already busy schedules for what seems like an endless number of hours in rehearsal with collaborative pianists and other soloists.
Students taking private lessons often go to these recitals for pink cards, the slips of paper that signify you have gone to the required number of on-campus music events for the semester. But beyond that, it’s to find inspiration for their personal musical journey. As someone who identifies as a mezzo-alto (read: singing high scares me but I know I don’t count as a true contralto), I feel a jolt of excitement when I receive the weekly music department events email and see fellow mezzos or altos from my choir listed. That sense of solidarity and support that tells us to see our friends and other people with similar instruments perform is also what helps us to push past our own nerves in performance.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the competition, intimidation and comparison to other vocalists and instrumentalists in the music department, but the truth is that so many of the people who walk through the doors of Christiansen Hall of Music and Hall of Music want success for everyone else.
It’s this common understanding that informs the unique vibes of the music community on campus – and is why more students should make a point of attending recitals. Whether you know the performer or not – if you haven’t talked to them since you sang in Manitou or Viking or if they’re your best friend – you should make the time to support someone giving a recital this year. You might laugh or cry, but even if you don’t, that person will share a little bit of their soul with you. In this divisive time in the world and on campus, we can all use a little more connection, understanding, perspective and beautiful music.