St. Mary’s University
March 29, 2001
When I think of spring, I think about cool, night winds turning into warm and balmy breezes--nature’s way of telling us that soon it will be summer. Since I don’t like summer, I don’t particularly care for the latter part of spring either. This spring, however, my negative thoughts were interrupted after I attended a Spring Recital Concert for St. Mary’s University music majors.
On Tuesday, March 27, I found myself in the Threadaway Recital Hall eagerly waiting for the recitals to begin. I was eager, not because I am a music aficionado, but because I needed to complete a music appreciation class assignment--attendance at two musical productions.
I was surprised at the number of students who chose to attend this particular event. I wondered whether these attendees were in the same predicament as I--needing to attend one more concert in order to complete the class requirement. But the concert was now beginning and the reason for attending no longer mattered.
Michael Mangrum quickly established the mood as he walked on stage without much fanfare or introduction and began playing Mrs. Winter’s Jump, a piece written by John Dowland. I mentioned previously that I hated summer, so a song about winter should have stimulated me, right? Mangrum’s solo on classical guitar was very stimulating!
The texture of the music was very soft, yet strong enough to keep members of the audience mesmerized with its contrasting dynamics. Mangrum’s second piece was equally pleasing to the ear.
Katherine Green, a soprano, was the next student to perform. Ms. Green chose the “evergreen,” Summertime, from the hit Broadway musical Porgy and Bess, written by George Gershwin and Les Cloches written by Claude Debussy.
I enjoyed listening to Ms. Green’s singing, but from my perspective, she could have sung a little louder. In my opinion, Ms. Green cheated the audience out of an opportunity to hear a great vocal performance when she failed to project her voice. With a little more volume, the high notes in her last piece would have invigorated the audience. In spite of this, Ms. Green’s performance was very enjoyable. Ms. Green was accompanied by Amy Arguello on the piano.
Another soprano, Claudia Gonzalez, selected for her recital several Spanish pieces written by Fernando Sor. Her songs were a good contrast to the other performers’ selections, but they did not have enough pizzazz to keep me interested. I felt as though I was being entertained by mariachis. Ms. Gonzalez chose music that did not showcase the sound of her voice. Ms. Gonzalez’s stage presence, however, was the best when compared with all other performers.
Celia Kutschenreuter, the third soprano of the afternoon, entertained the audience with a piece by Francesco Durante, Danza, Danza, Fanciulla Gentile. This song sounded like a piece from the baroque era. Once again I thought the singer lacked in contrasting dynamics. I was not impressed, and looking around at others in the audience, I’d say they weren’t impressed either, especially the two young men leaving the auditorium during the middle of the song.
The “show stopper” of the entire concert, as far as I was concerned, was Samuel Robles’ piano performance of Sonata, op. 27, No 2, by Ludwig Van Beethoven. First, I learned in class that a sonata was a three or four movement piece of music for a piano solo, so the title of the piece put me in the right mood. The performance was superb. Robles’ solo made me forget about the singers’ lack of volume for a moment. Now this was music! My disappointment was that Robles was only to play one movement, and that he should have been the finale.
The most accomplished singer of all the sopranos was the last to sing--Sara Michael Jacobi. Her choice of music, however, was not to my liking. Sara sang I Hate Music, by Leonard Bernstein. The piece lacked rhythm, as far as I could tell. The words in the song seem to have too much tension. Ms. Jacobi’s beautiful, booming voice was enough to overcome my dislike for the selection. I enjoyed Ms. Jacobi’s singing.
In summary, I realize that recitals are no indication of the talent each of the performers possess. I do, however, believe that music students in a university program should be better prepared for their recitals. Overall, the performances were good. I enjoy listening to music, and I considered the concert a refreshing respite before the advent of
summer--the season I hate!