Voice Students Refine their Craft

On Tuesday, April 12, thirteen student vocalists performed solos in five different languages, the pieces ranging from the Romantic to Renaissance periods. As the community gathered in Elfers Hall, the performances marked a great shift from the first voice recital, which took place last October. Contrasting in both mood and tone, the music students aimed to highlight the joy and pain that comes along with love and relationships in their songs.

The voice students worked for months in preparation for this performance, with some starting their pieces in September. Range, annunciation, emotion, and the flow of their music were among the many challenges the performers needed to consider when singing. Mr. Jack Brown, instructor in voice and the Hotchkiss Choir conductor said, “There haven’t been many opportunities for the students to sing outside of class, especially with the pandemic, but they have been working really hard in their lessons. They put great effort in overcoming obstacles: supporting high notes, projecting the voice, and even managing the nerves.” Ishani Kalavagunta ’25, who performed in front of the community for the first time in the fall said, “I thought I would be nervous, but performing is actually really exciting.” 

Eloina Christova, master pianist and chamber musician, accompanied the performers on the day of the recital. Mr. Brown said, “The October performances had much simpler pieces and since then my students [have been] continuously challenged in their preparations as they ‘climb up the steps of the musical ladder’.” Reflecting on her progress, Abigail Broome ’25 said, “It was a great experience to [start from] where I was back then and, [after putting] in a lot of work,  reach where I am now.” In October, Broome sang “The Water is Wide”, a folk song of Scottish origin which was simpler in melody; in the most recent recital, she performed much more complex pieces, including “Delizie Contente” by Renaissance Italian composer Pier Francesco Cavalli and Asturiana by Spanish composer and pianist Manuel de Falla. The piece calls for sophisticated vocal techniques, such as the stability of higher notes, but also requires the singer to delight the audience with their content for love. 

For the musicians, who have been restrained to small practice rooms ever since the pandemic, the recital will be a great opportunity to recognize their own progress and potential. Mr. Brown said, “There’s nothing like a live performance to remind ourselves of how we’re doing. We’re the instrument, and performing in Elfers takes quite a bit of courage. No microphones. No editing.” For Mr. Brown’s students, the recital, serving as a form of interaction with the community, is not their journey’s end. Kalavagunta said, “I see it more as a ‘benchmark’ for us to check on later and improve from.” 

As the school year comes to a close, the Hotchkiss community can look forward to enjoying more performances from our Hotchkiss singers and other music students in the upcoming weeks.