Preparation and Performance

White clouds in an azure sky, birds trilling their song, gusts of wind rustling fall leaves from swooning trees—who would imagine these scenes coming from music? To master’s student Nathania Muñoz (’16), playing Hindemith Sonata in her violin recital depicted a beautiful day.

For so many senior and graduate students like her, their education culminates in a music or performance studies recital. To truly appreciate all the hard work these students put into a one-night performance, it’s insightful to look behind the scenes at their hours, months, and even years of preparation.

For most students, preparation begins 1–2 years before their recital. Music majors like Nathania practice 2–5 hours every day methodically drilling the pieces into memorization and pushing toward a final polished selection. Nathania said, “Performing is often quite the mental game. It’s like a sport, yet a very demanding and risky fine art at the same time.” To help her relax before her graduate recital, she took a long relaxing walk on the beach to clear her head and help her focus.

Many music majors choose pieces that are special to them for their recitals. Nathania performed “Tzigane,” a Hungarian gypsy melody, in her violin recital earlier this semester. “Learning this piece was quite a challenge for both my accompanist and me. But in the end, it proved to be quite rewarding,” she said. “In fact, after the composer, Ravel, wrote ‘Tzigane,’ he wondered if it was too difficult to play. And he was right!”

Senior Stephen Spilger (MO) just had his voice recital last semester. Although he was nervous the night of his performance, he remembered feeling a sense of peace. “Through the whole time, I could feel God’s presence and Him helping me,” he said. When he finishes his master’s degree in vocal performance from PCC, Stephen plans to work with inner city youth and adult choirs.

Aside from the many students who have recitals in music, performance studies students also give recitals. For graduate student Austin Gardner (’16), speech and drama have been lifelong ambitions. “I think what's the most exciting to me in performing is the idea that my performance has the potential to stir a crowd,” said Austin.

Directing his graduate production, an abridged version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, would perhaps seem daunting to many. But Austin chose the story because “its transcendent truths have stood the test of time and are communicated through a level of realism that is unparalleled in other works of art and literature.”

For Austin, Nathania, Stephen, and others preparing recitals, the opportunity to present quality work on stage is a task worth undertaking. Austin summed it up well when he said, “It is often the most challenging tasks in this life that become the most rewarding.”

Explore the slideshow above to view pictures of recent recitals as well as the process of preparing for a recital.

Published 3/14/2016