Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Eric Johnson, Co-Chair, Voice Department
Laurie Deyo, Undergraduate Admissions Recruiter
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Music | Music Education
Reinventing the Classical Recital: Examining the Connections Between Performer and Audience was a project intended to create a dialogue between the performer and audience about the kind of experience a classical recital typically is versus what it can be. Recitals given at Syracuse University, and in the classical music community in general, generally have strict guidelines for the amount, type, and quality of music to be performed. Certain composers or types of song are considered more appropriate than others, depending on the instrument and length of the recital. In creating a recital to evaluate in what ways the performer can connect to his or her audience, I carefully selected music that did not strictly meet typical guidelines for an hour-long senior voice recital. Instead, I selected a variety of music that appealed to me and that I thought my audience could relate to.
I began my recital program with multi-movement work by Beethoven for voice and piano (considered by some to be one of the first song cycles ever written). After a brief intermission, I continued the program with a set of five songs by Leonard Bernstein, another well-known composer. This set was meant to surprise and amuse the audience, and set the tone for the final group of songs, from musical theatre and operetta.
In creating a recital, a performer must first select music. Most performers make sure to have good variety of foreign language and English pieces, pieces of varying lengths and topics, and often add a collaborative piece where another performer (besides the pianist) is invited to play. Next, the performer is responsible for finding an accompanist and researching the music, filling out forms to reserve the venue and ensure the recital will be recorded, have the piano tuned, and practice often to make sure s/he is prepared. The audience’s responsibility is to come to the performance, and pay attention throughout.
This project attempted to bridge the gap between those onstage and offstage, by including certain members of the audience in the steps leading up to and following the recital. Before the actual recital, I polled my students, friends, and family to find out what they found most interesting and most dull about classical concerts and recitals. The insight I received helped me to plan my timing and musical choices to help the audience feel included and interested. During the recital, as a performer I sought to include my audience by making frequent eye contact and facial/bodily gestures. Following my recital, I was able to celebrate my recital over a reception, but also to talk with the audience about which songs they liked and why. Classical music and performance can be enjoyed by all, not just those who are musically well educated or interested.
DiNicola, Kimberly R., "Reinventing the Classical Recital: Examining the Connections Between Performer and Audience" (2011). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 199.
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