March 6, 2019 The Signal page 17
Arts & Entertainment
Music instructors take center stage
Left: Faculty members perform pieces from various genres. Right: Sierra connects to his roots with a native Peruvian song. By Mae Kristy Calacal Correspondent Amidst all of the student performances and recitals, one adjunct professor at the College wanted to give music faculty their time to shine. Christopher Sierra, a voice instructor, invited faculty members from different colleges to help host his event, “Crossing Genres,” which was created to showcase the versatility of classical singers. The event was held on Saturday, March 2 from 8 to 9:30 p.m. in Mayo Concert Hall. Sierra wanted audience members to realize that classical singers can sing in all genres. Any singer looking to improve their talent, according to Sierra, should try stepping out of their comfort zone by singing in genres they may not have considered before, particularly those included in commercial music, such as theater, jazz and contemporary pop. Sierra quelled myths about classical singers, particularly the idea that singing in other genres will damage their vocal cords. Learning to cross genres actually has the potential to enhance their vocal technique and improve adaptability. “Classical singers are just as likely as commercial singers to be diagnosed with a voice disorder,” Sierra said. He then presented examples of artists who accompanied classical music with other genres, such as Cristina Ramos, a 2016 contestant on “Spain’s Got Talent” who performed an opera rock rendition of “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. After the lecture, the overhead lights shifted from the audience and spilled onto the stage. Four vocal studies
professors from different colleges and the main faculty singers of the night — Sierra (tenor), Elise Brancheau (soprano), Bridgette Gan (soprano) and Scott Johnson (baritone) — opened with Richard Rodgers’s 1933 song, “Sounds of the Earth.” For the remainder of the show, viewers were treated to a rotation of performances from compositions that spanned both decades and a variety of genres. As a tribute to his Peruvian roots, Sierra chose Chabuca Granda’s “Fina Estampa” as his first song. To balance out the rolling of his “r’s” and the upbeat and finely sequenced notes from guitarist John Orluk Lacombe’s tugging of metal strings, Sierra later sang the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” which is the famously-feature ballad in the 1990 movie “Ghost.” Sierra later shared his inspiration for the show — while getting his doctorate, he immersed himself in classical music, only to later realize that he hadn’t spent much time with other genres he loved. “I used to think I was going to be a pop star,” Sierra said. He hoped that audience members will see that all genres are of value. “Commercial music is virtuosic,” he said. “It deserves the same space and attention as classical music.” Brancheau covered the slow, piano-heavy “Samson” by indie artist Regina Spektor. She fluctuated evenly between high and low soprano as she weaved through the verses and chorus. Later, she would be on her feet for the lively folk song “California” by Joni Mitchell.
Miguel Gonzalez / Photo Editor
Johnson sang Jason Robert Brown’s “Someone to Fall Back On.” He later countered the sentimental number with “The Dynamo of Volition” by Jason Mraz. He bopped his head to the staccato rhythm of the piano. Pianist Martin Néron matched Johnson’s lightning-speed rhymes. Before performing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” Gan partnered with Johnson for a duet. They sang “I’d Give It All For You” by Jason Robert Brown in perfect harmony with one another. They incorporated some theatrics to the number by simulating lovers in a conflict. Johnson turned away from Gan as he sang, “God knows it’s easy to hide, easy to hide from the things you feel.” The distraught-looking Gan responded with, “God knows it’s easy to run, run from the people you love.” The duo joined hands as the song came to an end. Gan and Johnson were interested in the recital because they shared the same concerns as Sierra — hyperfocusing on only one genre. “There’s this stigma with classical music,” Gan said. “It isn’t just, ‘Oh, you studied opera? You have to do opera!’” In the middle of the show, all four singers came out to perform. They gathered around the grand piano, where Néron pulled the cover over the keys and began playing. The group broke into an a capella version of Adele’s hit “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).” Sierra provided the harmony to Brancheau’s and Gan’s buildup to the bridge as their voices echoed throughout the hall. At the end, the quartet took their bows and welcomed the thundering applause of the crowd.
Senior recital marks pinnacle of student achievement
Miguel Gonzalez / Photo Editor
Kaba showcases her mastery of the trumpet.
By Ariel Steinsaltz Staff Writer
Music filled the air as two music majors took the stage to showcase their skills and love for their craft.
On Sunday, March 3 at 4 p.m. in Mayo Concert Hall, two students in the music department presented their senior recitals, which is a requirement for all music majors. Marisa Blackman, a senior music performance major
and flute player, and Madeline Kaba, a senior music education major and trumpet player, took the stage. The event opened with Kaba playing the trumpet, accompanied by Kathy Shanklin, a collaborative pianist at the College. The powerful notes of the trumpet filled the room and delighted the audience as Kaba played the “Sonata for Trumpet and Piano” by Halsey Stevens. Next was Blackman, also accompanied by Shanklin, playing the “Hamburger Sonata” by Bach. Blackman produced a pleasant melody with her flute. Kaba then performed the “Concertino for Flugelhorn” by William Himes on the flugelhorn and Blackman performed “Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra” by Lowell Liebermann on the piccolo. After intermission, Kaba played “Légende” by Georges Enesco and Blackman played “Canzone for Flute and Piano” by Samuel Barber. Kaba then performed “Quintet” by
Michael Kamen. Blackman finished the event by playing “Ballad for Flute and Piano” by Frank Martin. “Really the preparation started as soon as I got here freshman year,” Kaba said of the culmination of her work as a music student. “Everything builds to the end.” Kaba explained that she had to do a lot of practicing to make sure that her performance was the best that it could be. For Blackman, preparation for the event started during winter break and carried into the semester. She worked with Shanklin to find songs that were the best possible fit. As far as picking the songs for the event went, the inspiration came from a variety of places. Kaba explained that some of the songs were ones she had played before or heard other people play, but some came from internet browsing. Blackman started playing piano in the second grade and started playing the flute in fifth
grade. In high school, she picked up the piccolo but changed mediums later on. “I’m kind of a special case because I switched instruments my freshman year,” Kaba said. “It’s a gut feeling you have, the connection to the instrument.” Christopher McEwan, a senior music education major, came to the event because he is good friends with both of the performers. “I thought it was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “They both did a phenomenal job.” Gina Luizzi, a sophomore music education major, was also present at the event in support of her fellow classmates. “Marisa and I are both in the flute studio, so I wanted to support her, and also I was just really looking forward to hearing some great music,” Luizzi said. “I thought it was really beautiful. I’ve never really heard solo trumpet before. I really loved hearing Marisa play and showing off her amazing talent for an audience because she’s such a great player.”
The 3/6/19 issue of The Signal, The College of New Jersey's student newspaper