All private lesson pupils in Richland's music program are expected to prepare and present at the end of each semester a solo performance for a grade before a confidential jury of music faculty members. For honors and scholarship students, their jury appearance occurs in public in Fannin Hall and is part of the compulsory noontime recital program class attended by all music majors. On the one hand, these juries can be a daunting experience for even the most seasoned musician. On the other, they can be a valuable opportunity to develop stage confidence and poise.
The Richland end-of-semester honors instrumental recital was on Tuesday, December 6, and the corresponding honors vocal recital was on Thursday, December 8. Before each concert, professor Melissa Logan, enjoined the audience to be especially courteous and sympathetic to their peers on stage who she said were often vulnerable and suffering from the perilous pain of performance angst. In every case the response was proper and respectful, but in many it also took the form of prolonged and enthusiastic applause. Both shows were that good.
An even dozen outstanding instrumentalists came through the curtains, bowed, and played their solos on Tuesday. Ten singers appeared similarly on
Thursday's program which included three short male-female duets from two operas by Mozart and one by Rossini plus eight other solos. In her opening remarks, professor Logan mentioned that there has been discussion recently about offering an opera workshop in the spring semester and she encouraged anyone interested in it to contact her. The three well-received operatic duets show-cased the core talent already on hand.
Although all the instrumentalists and singers were stellar, one in particular, Shiori Watashima, I think, merits special recognition, because she performed to perfection on both programs. On Tuesday she played beautifully Chopin's familiar "Nocturne in E flat Major" on the piano, and then on Thursday as a soprano she sang a gorgeous duet with tenor Steven Singleton from Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutti" as well as two other superb solos. Her expressive work on the keyboard was punctuated by several careful pauses and well-articulated dynamics, and her vibrato while singing was always clear and controlled.
For anyone who enjoys observing both the result of hard practice and the promise of an early view of tomorrow's professional musicians, Richland's free concerts in Fannin Hall every Tuesday at 12:30 can't be beat.