Photo by Sophia Escudero | Baritone Pablo Murcia performs an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the NASM recital in Fulkerson Hall.
Photo by Sophia Escudero | Baritone Pablo Murcia performs an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the NASM recital in Fulkerson Hall.

Cal Poly Humboldt music department performs a once-in-a-decade recital

"I was the only singer chosen, and that's quite an honor."
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by Sophia Escudero

One o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon is not the usual time for a music recital. However, this particular performance was more than just a display of student skill. Accreditors from the National Association of Schools of Music were in attendance, after two days on campus visiting classes, listening to students perform, and ensuring the university meets standards for music programs. According to music department chair Cindy Moyer, this process is one that happens only once every ten years.

“For this particular recital, what they wanted to see was the full spectrum of the program, which is why you can see there were all different music concentrations and students performing,” Moyer said.

A highlight of the afternoon’s performances was staff accompanist John Chernoff’s rendition of a moody piano piece by composition major Theo Singer. The audience watched in captivated silence as Chernoff played through to the last, lingering note with an intensely focused expression, leaving the music hanging in the air for a moment, before breaking the spell as he turned to the audience with a wide smile and a quick bow, freeing the listeners to rapturous applause. Singer is a senior, but the performers comprised the full range of experience.

“This was hard because we needed a real breadth of things, we had to find freshmen and sophomores,” Moyer said. “We do an honors recital every year and that’s pretty easy, students audition and the very best play— but that was not the goal here. The goal was not the most advanced, most skilled performers entirely, it was the whole spectrum of performers.”

Marimba player Makani Bright was singled out by Moyer as a particularly talented senior performer. Bright has been playing for about 12 years, and has an upcoming senior solo recital on April 10. They are a double major in percussion performance and applied mathematics, finding beauty in both.

“The way that I relate both of my majors in my mind is that I think of them artistically,” Bright said. “I think of mathematics as an art form, it’s perfect and there’s many beautiful things you can do within mathematics. Both of them, to me, are an art.”

Bright’s piece, “Chain” by composer Kazunori Miyake, was not one they had previously performed before an audience. The instrumental composition had almost narrative elements, combining multiple different feelings and rhythms into a complex and beautiful melody.

“I feel really good about it,” Bright said. “I feel like I was able to express what I wanted to express and I really enjoyed myself.”

The majority of the music on display was instrumental, with pianists, percussionists, and a saxophone quartet as standouts, but music education major Pablo Murcia was selected to represent the vocal arts.

“I’m very honored, honestly,” Murcia said. “I was the only singer chosen, and that’s quite an honor. I’m very flattered, and happy that some people came out to support me. That was nice.”

Murcia’s piece was an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, “Deh, vieni alla finestra.” He performed in Italian, but his smooth baritone voice, expressive performing style, and connection with the music (which has been part of his repertoire since last semester) carried the story of the song to the audience.

“Don Giovanni, he’s a Don Juan, he’s a player, and he’s trying to get the attention of a woman at her window,” Murcia said. “The whole piece is just him saying, come to me, come to me, trying different tactics to get her attention, and she just keeps sort of playing coy, and finally, by the end of the piece, she finally gives into his charms.” He laughs. “Quote, unquote charms— he’s kind of a narcissistic jerk, but yeah.”

Music department ASA Samantha Heppe was excited to be involved in such an important production for the university.

“I’m just excited for our music students to showcase their talents,” Heppe said. “This recital is in honor of the accreditation team, so this type of recital won’t happen again for another ten years.”

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