Three years of learning music and perfecting the art of their talents culminated into one significant moment for Autumn Hitt, senior piano emphasis in Bachelor of Arts in Music and philosophy double major and Elizabeth Vaughn, senior music education major with a vocal emphasis—their junior recital. Since last spring they had both devoted to practicing their skills to perform for their “big day” back on October 6 at Jennings Hall.
The recital fulfilled requirements for both Hitt who played the piano and Vaughn who sung songs, both requiring great skill. Vaughn’s 13 songs were performed in between the seven piano pieces Hitt provided with each performing 30 minutes each.
As a student pursuing a bachelor of arts, Hitt is required to give a junior piano recital although she waited until her senior year to perform it. She was responsible for performing music from at least three musical eras.
Preparation for the “big day” has been exciting and sometimes challenging for Hitt. Hitt devoted at least three hours of practicing per day for five to six days a week. All music majors are required to have hearings two weeks before their recital where for Hitt two to four professors listened while she performed all her recital pieces. By passing her hearing, she was then allowed to perform the recital as scheduled.
“For me, the hearing was way more stressful than the actual recital,” Hitt said.
Hartley auditorium in Jennings was full with friends, family, classmates and professors to watch Hitt and Vaughn display their talent for the recital. Hitt played pieces by Frѐdѐric Chopin, Joseph Haydn, and Alberto Ginastera.
Chris Matthews, associate professor of music and department chair, commented on Hitt’s performance by saying, “While all of her pieces were strong, I particularly appreciated her performance of the Haydn Sonata, which was crisp, energetic, stylistically appropriate and fun.”
Vaughn’s junior recital is one of two performances she plans to give, although she is not required to have a junior recital as a vocal music education major.
Vaughn chose to give her junior recital merely for graduate preparation in vocal performance. In the spring she will give her own senior recital that will last over an hour. As a music education major, she is required to learn songs with two of three possible foreign languages including German, Italian and Latin. Vaughn chose a variety of pieces including two Romantic pieces, one German piece by Robert Schumann and a French piece by Guonod. She also played a Baroque piece by Bach.
Some of Vaughn’s pieces were selected from those she had performed from previous semesters. She then started practicing for the recital last spring and then refined her performance this past summer as she devoted over three hours per day to practicing and researching how to perform her best.
Georgia Wellborn, professor of music and Vaughn’s vocal teacher, said Vaughn has a natural ability at singing and “was able to give a beautiful and intelligent performance.”
“Elizabeth learns music quickly and accurately,” Wellborn said. “With her lovely voice and good communication skills she is able to engage and hold the attention of her audience.”
“A lot of what we practice is finding a good place to resonate so that it sounds right and figuring out what the tone of the piece should be and how to convey that musically,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn’s favorite piece was “The Crucifixion” by Samuel Barker and “Faite-luimes Aveux,” a French aria opera piece by Charles Gounod. In the French aria, a monologue piece from a character Faust, the devil curses Faust by making every flower he touches wither. The boy loves an older woman. He sends her flowers every day and becomes distraught over his dead flowers until he finds how to restore life to them by dipping them in a special well.
From her experience giving a recital, Vaughn said she learned how to cope with her nerves for a long period of time to perform at her best.