Near the end of the semester, every Senior music scholar is asked to present a recital in some form or another. November 10th marked Jennie Blaney’s turn to show her skills as a soprano in Olin’s recital hall. She collected several pieces, ranging from vocal adaptations of poetry, including Emily Dickinson, to more contemporary compositions, and performed each with the accompaniment of Marianne Sandborg on piano.
“My recital consisted entirely of twentieth century American art songs,” stated Blaney. She reflected upon how her recital progressed by stating, “I performed four different song cycles (three songs each) by four different composers: John Duke, Ned Rorem, Libby Larsen, and Lori Laitman. Some of the poets featured on my program included Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Creeley. Art songs (songs that combine music and literature, often where the piano and voice are equal partners with an emphasis on expressing the text) are my favorite genre of music to sing, so it was very special for me to have the opportunity to perform this program.”
While Blaney performed her finished product with grace and ease, she assured that creating a recital is much more difficult than it seems.
“Preparing for a recital is a long process. I chose extremely challenging music to perform, so I have been working for the past year to learn all the quirky intervals that come along with a program of exclusively twentieth century music.”
Blaney pushed herself even further by setting specific goals that supported her personal interests, “My original goal was to stretch myself as a musician, to perform some very difficult repertoire that I wouldn’t have been capable of performing until recently. In the process, I really wanted to explore the works of some female composers, since most of the composers we learn about in music classes are male. Throughout the process, my goals became much more about my relationship with the composers, especially in the Laitman song cycle. I have recently come to love Lori Laitman’s music so much that my main goal was to fully channel her in my performance of her song cycle.”
Although the difficulty rose with each of her goals, Blaney learned to appreciate the relevance of what each musician accomplished, especially as women, “When you prepare any performance you get to know the composers much more intimately than when you just listen to their works. It was really amazing to get to know the works of Libby Larsen and Lori Laitman. These two composers will definitely continue to hold a very special place in my heart!”
As for the recital itself, Blaney said, “I was very nervous. I performed all of my most loved music, so I felt a lot of pressure to do it justice!” Despite her love for music and now female composers, she has no intention to continue pursuing music after college as a career. She will however join a choir in graduate school. “I can’t imagine my life without singing,” exclaimed Blaney.