Senior music majors put finishing touches on upcoming recitals

caitlinhardee

For Whitman’s senior music majors, the beginning of spring heralds the opening of their most critical season. As numerous senior recitals and the music department’s annual composers concert will take place over the next few weeks, students will perform their own works and the works of others as they strive to complete their degrees. Faculty Music Assistant Kristin Vining-Stauffer explained the importance of this culminating event for the music majors.

“Students will work sometimes their whole career at Whitman College toward that senior recital,” she said. “They build up to it; they perform in smaller recitals: they might perform a junior recital: and it really is the culminating project for a music major at Whitman, to demonstrate the body of work they’ve been working on while they were a student here. It is an integral part of the music degree.”

The format of these showcases differs, depending on the student’s specific major track within the music department.

“The composition majors will present their own recital their senior year of their original compositions,” said Vining-Stauffer. “Those are always performed by a group of students and faculty. The composers themselves don’t usually perform at their recital. But a senior music major or senior performance major will perform their own senior recital, and that’s music by all different composers.”

As their recitals draw near, seniors Jacqueline Kamm, Kaley Eaton and Marshall Baker are occupied with intensive rehearsal.

Kamm is a vocal performance major and is preparing approximately 18 pieces for her recital, which will take place Saturday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Chism Hall. Her recital incorporates pieces in French, German, Italian and Hebrew. She will be performing with her long-time piano accompanist, senior Laura Deering.

“It draws from all different periods: classical, romantic and 20th century,” said Kamm. “I’m just finessing each piece and . . . working to make each part of it really meaningful.”

Kamm detailed her long involvement with music and the recital’s role in her work at Whitman.

“I’ve been in choir since I was three,” she said. “I definitely did some more musical theater in high school, but here I’ve primarily focused on classical music. I’m excited for my recital; I’ve been working on it for I guess two years, and it’s just a big culminating moment of all the work I’ve done here. People should come!”

Eaton, also a vocal performance major,  is participating in both a composer concert and her own senior recital.

“All of the people that studied composition with [Adjuct Assistant Professor of Music] John David Earnest last semester are presenting the pieces that we worked on. We worked on a few pieces and we’re all having someone else from the department perform them. [The composer concert is] happening on Friday, Feb. 26 [at 7:30 p.m., Chism Hall].”

Eaton’s own recital was set to take place Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m., but due to a last-minute bout of laryngitis and bronchitis, the music department decided to postpone the event. It is tentatively set for Saturday, April 3, again at 7:30 p.m. in Chism Hall.

“I’m doing a lot of works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods,” said Eaton, who has been classically trained since the age of 11. “I have some weird [accompanying] instruments: I have a lute player coming in to play for me, and I also have flutes and violins.”

Eaton spoke also to the challenges she has encountered so far.

“I think the hardest part of putting on a recital is knowing what you can handle: just making sure that you pick repertoire that you’ll be able to sing straight for 45 minutes and not picking things that are too difficult to perform and then getting up on stage and having your voice die out on you halfway through.”

Meanwhile, senior Marshall Baker discussed the different sorts of challenges he faces as a composition major constructing a composer’s concert.

“Writing music is tough, but it pays off a lot once you hear it played,” said Baker. “It gets tough towards the end of the writing process, when you haven’t heard the piece played by real instruments, and you might start to get sick of it. But then again, it’s also tough to rehearse, because you have to deal with the logistics of coordinating schedules for however many people.”

Unusually, Baker’s composer’s concert will also incorporate a performance cameo; he will be playing one of his own pieces, written for solo violin.

His concert will take place on Friday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Chism Hall.

To the Whitman community at large, Vining-Stauffer extended an earnest encouragement to attend the senior recitals and concerts.

“Recitals are going to be happening from now until the end of the school year, and April usually has a lot of recitals. The students put in hours and hours of work, so it is really important that people come and support them,” she said.