"Gee, thanks for not coming to our recital."
A stick figure holding a clarinet, jumping in the air.
Over the past few weeks, the halls of the music building have been covered with colorful and often wacky posters and flyers advertising junior and senior recitals.
The junior and senior recitals are something of a rite of passage for music majors. They mark a milestone of achievement. These recitals, which are typically an hour in length, provide the musician(s) with an opportunity to showcase what they have learned over the past three or four years as well as having the experience of performing as a soloist for an extended period of time. "It's a really good experience to prepare for later in life with recitals and being able to play for such a long period of time," said violinist Nicole Parks '09.
These recitals take many shapes and forms. Some students perform strictly as soloists. Others perform in duets, such as Daniel Greco '09 and Virginia Hicks '09. In these partnerships, the performers have the added challenge and benefit of having another person with which to work. "It's great to have someone to collaborate with," Greco said. "Having that kind of support certainly helps to ease the nerves."
However, not all junior and senior music majors actually perform at their recitals. Some, like Aurora Adamson '08, are composers whose friends and fellow musicians perform their original works. While there is just as much, if not more, work that must be done to prepare for a composition recital, the preparation time is proportioned differently for these artists.
"[As a composer] you have to write all of the music, then find people to perform it, and get them rehearsed," Adamson said. "So, most of the work that I did on my own for the recital is over--the music has been written for a while, and now I'm mostly organizing, doing logistics. I send hours' worth of organizational emails, and I'm leading rehearsals every day right now, instead of hours of practicing on my own like a performance major would be doing."
Along with the presentation of great music comes pressure from all around. Since these recitals are a graduation requirement, many students feel anxious about how their professors will evaluate the performance and often worry that despite all the hard work, the performance may not be perfect. These pressures can often lead to nerves before the recital, but not in every case. "I'm nervous, but more of an excited nervousness," Hicks said, "because I think it will be more fun to share the music with people than stressful."
While the recital itself is a requirement, students often look for ways to spice things up to add interest to their recitals. Many times they include other students in their recital pieces. Parks, for example, played one piece on a transitional instrument and had two friends join her on period instruments.
Adamson invited artists from other fields into her recital: "I have a collaboration piece towards the end with musicians and dancers playing violins and dancing and moving around Urness Hall. I also have a piece for the Ceilidh Band, the Celtic music group on campus. I really love collaboration, I also love fiddle tunes and keep writing them, so those two things show up on my recital."
Just as these performers have to work hard in preparation of the recitals, they have to work hard getting an audience to listen and watch the product of their labors. Enter the colorful and creative posters. "It's traditional to have posters, if for no other reason than to remind your friends where and when it is," Adamson said. "Also, cool posters are the fun part of organization for a recital." Even if you've never set foot in Christianson Hall of Music, the excitement of junior and senior recitals permeates campus with a wave of witty and splashy publicity.