Dancing with Wolf: Songs and arias by Wolf, Puccini, and Ives and Songs and arias by Purcell, Handel, and Brahms
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The process of putting together two senior recitals has been very much a learning process, but overall has only confirmed my love for classical voice and performing as a whole. I feel as though my experience may be a bit unique to that of other vocal majors, because I have only been seriously focusing on vocal performance for the last two years. However, these have been two very formative years.
For many years I knew that I enjoyed performing, but after making the realization that I did not enjoy playing the violin-- something I had done for many years, I began to feel as though perhaps I should find a route other than performance and maybe even outside of music altogether. However, after moderating in anthropology during my sophomore year, I found the mentor I had been looking for (and had failed to find in other departments) when I began studying with my voice teacher, Ilka LoMonaco. Ilka helped me to see the emotional power that vocal performance can have, as well as showing me my personal potential as a singer. Ilka is the person I credit the most in helping me discover my passion for classical vocal music.
However, because I did not begin studying classical voice seriously until I started working with Ilka, the entire process of preparing a vocal performance was somewhat new to me. In addition to this, I was learning a drastically different and highly intensive vocal technique, which at first I found to be very physically tiring and difficult. For my moderation recital, which took place in March of my junior year, I still had a number of bad vocal and performance habits that I needed to focus on before I gave my senior recitals. Since my moderation last year, through a great deal of focus and practice, I feel as though I have greatly improved on many of the issues and challenges that I had before. I feel much more comfortable with vocal technique and feel as though I have begun to learn to incorporate some acting and drama into my performance as a vocalist.
I am very proud of how far I have come as a singer and as a performer in such a short period of time. However, the process of learning to put together a recital was a very new one for me and was difficult to figure out. First of all, I knew very little about vocal music, so I had a hard time picking out repertoire for myself. For my first recital, I chose some music that I liked and knew would be a challenge to learn. My biggest mistake I made in the preparation for this recital was not learning the music thoroughly early on in the semester. I spent a good deal of time listening to the music and practicing it without the accompaniment, but didn’t focus enough on rhythm and memorization. Because of this, when it came time to incorporate more expression, I was still worrying about very specific issues with the counting, and the notes. From this experience I learned that it is very important to be very familiar with each piece of music and its specific elements (notes, rhythm, text, etc.) well before the performance is approaching. This comes to me with a bit of difficulty, as I have had issues with procrastination for as long as I can remember. As it turns out—musical preparation is not something that can be procrastinated without the quality of the performance suffering.
For my second recital, I felt a great deal more prepared musically, but did not feel quite as satisfied with the end result as I would have liked. This time, I chose music that I had been told suited my voice well and I would not find too difficult to learn. This was important because a good month during the beginning of the semester was taken up with Opera Workshop and the Elijah performance with the ASO, which I had a last-minute solo in. At the end of February, I finally was able to really devote some time to my recital. This time, I did a much better job of preparing my music and was able to really devote some focus to personal expression. However, I believe I may have been a bit over-confident in preparing the overall performance aspect of the recital. I believe that my introductions seemed a bit sloppy and underprepared and perhaps I could have added a bit more “choreography.” I feel as though I still need a bit of work on performance preparation in general.
Overall, I am very pleased with how I have grown as singer and performer. I began studying voice because I liked the positive feedback I was getting and felt that it gave me the right type of challenge. Now, I feel as though my love and passion for singing reaches far beyond that. I believe that a large part of the passion I feel for vocal performance stems from the emotional reaction that the human voice has the potential to give to an audience. Music has the power to express essential parts of the human experience that often cannot be put into words--a power that can reach far beyond the individual. I realize now that I do not perform only for some selfish passion—I perform as an emotional service to other people. In this, lies the value of what I have been working on and towards during my last two years.
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Sloane-Barton, Hannah, "Dancing with Wolf: Songs and arias by Wolf, Puccini, and Ives and Songs and arias by Purcell, Handel, and Brahms" (2012). Senior Projects Spring 2012. 90.
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