Arias, cadenzas, and concertos drift down the passages of the Hvidsten Hall of Music during March and April, a cacophony of sounds overlapping and intertwining as students prepare for upcoming recitals. Students begin preparing as early as summer, and it all comes down to the wire once the school year begins again—polishing and perfecting for one final performance.
While student recitals take place during both the fall and spring semesters, they increase in number as the school year draws to a close: according to the Concordia College events calendar, there are about 40 recitals scheduled in the next two months alone.
Junior Halie Weaving, an instrumental music education major, is performing her recital on March 24. While she plays timpani, additional percussion, and harp, the flute and piccolo are her primary instruments. She performs in the Concordia Band, Symphonic Band, Symphonia Orchestra, and flute choir.
“I’ve been preparing since the summer, because it’s a lot of thought on ‘what am I going to play?’ ‘What is the theme of my recital going to be?’ With that, you need to know what period you want to be performing in. It’s also the style of the pieces you want to perform—duets, solos, trios—and the number of pieces you want to play,” Weaving said.
Senior Megan Hovinen, a communication studies and theatre art major, sings soprano in the Concordia Choir and takes voice lessons with Professor Karen Hamilton. She will be performing her voice recital on April 8. Because her goal is not to perform classically, but rather focus on musical theatre, the repertoire is unusual for a senior recital.
“I knew I wanted to do an atypical recital. Recitals at Concordia typically feature classical music with a few touches of other things. Karen has allowed me to choose all my own music that I want to do. I picked music that I enjoy singing that can show off a variety of styles,” Hovinen said in an email.
On the other side of the proceedings is the music faculty. Piano professor Dr. Jay Hershberger plays a major role in preparing his students to perform. He strives to give them exposure to a wide variety of pieces and styles, building skill and repertoire from the time they first begin lessons with him.
“There’s certain aspects of the piano repertoire that they need to cover. We try to find a variety of composers to fill that over four years. By the time they’re a junior, I start to get a sense of what their particular strengths are. Then we talk about pieces and composers that reflect that, so when they’re playing in public, they’re playing to their strengths,” he said.
However, teaching does not come without its own set of challenges.
“The most challenging part is getting them to understand that practice is homework, and it’s every bit as important as your math course, or English writing course, or whatever academic course they take,” Hershberger said.
But the challenge pays off. For Hovinen, she is grateful for the support from Hamilton.
“Karen has been an incredible advocate for me to attend and seek out auditions. She consistently opens my eyes to many opportunities around. I know she’s one of my biggest fans,” she said.
In the end, all the hard work pays off during the final performance. Weaving expresses excitement about the selection for her recital.
“I’ll be performing six pieces. One of them is called ‘Fluctuations,’ by Josh Gottry, and it’s a duet for vibraphone and marimba, with C flute and alto flute. The composer will actually be watching the live stream, because he wants a new recording of the piece. I had to contact him directly to get the score, and he was very excited,” she said.
Hovinen’s pieces have a wide variety of styles and techniques, but one of her sets holds emotional significance.
“I have a few different sets (or groupings) of music. One features music that leans into the classical soprano sound. Another set includes modern musical theatre pieces that may be lesser known. My favorite set is an ode to my childhood. It features a few songs that are a little more character-y, and two songs I have been singing since I was walking—’Part of Your World’ and ‘In My Own Little Corner.’ Those are almost completely for my parents,” she said.
It is an equally rewarding experience for the instructors when they see their students perform on the stage.
“It’s a real thrill. You know the work that they’ve done, you know where they started and where they are, and how far they’ve come. To see a level of maturity in work habits and artistic ability, that’s really satisfying,” Hershberger said.
A full schedule of student recitals and other music events can be found online at cord.edu/music.
Annie is a senior double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Heritage and Museum Studies, as well as minoring in German. She loves adventures, coffee, and dogs. This is her third year with the Concordian.