Students perform in 43rd Concerto Aria concert

By Payton Clark, Arts Editor

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Dr. Vernon conducts as sophomore Julie Welch sings. / Laura Hickman, The Bison 

12 students, weeks of preparation and beautiful music all came together to highlight the best of OBU at the 43rd Annual Concerto Aria.

This past Sunday, Feb. 20, students, faculty and many more performed in Concerto Aria in participation with the Fine Arts Main Event (FAME) weekend. The concert took place in Potter Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

Students Jude Balthazar, Emmalee Ewbank, Emilie Griffin, Olivia Jones, Mitchell Manlapig, Cassidy Olsen, Konnor Robertson, Brooklynne Seale, Paige Shelton, Madison Trammell, Jennifer Watson and Julie Welch were selected to perform.

According to associate professor of vocal music Dr. Louima Lilite, Concerto Aria is the highest profile performance opportunity given to OBU music students.

“Soloists chosen are given the honor to perform with orchestral accompaniment in front of hundreds of guests,” Lilite said. “It is an evening that highlights a level of artistry and technical proficiency to which all musicians aspire.”

Each year, Concerto Aria coincides with the FAME weekend in order to display the work of the fine arts to prospective students.

“Our main purpose is to showcase and celebrate the accomplishments of our advanced students as part of the Fine Arts Main Event which brings prospective students and their families to Bison Hill every February,” Lilite said.

With FAME, freshman piano major Emilie Griffin appreciates the chance Concerto Aria gives young and prospective students to learn.

“Concerto Aria is an incredibly important event because it gives young, growing musicians an opportunity to experience music in a new light,” Griffin said. “This is an opportunity that not all musicians get to have, and I am so grateful to OBU for making this event a priority and making it possible to experience.”

As this was Griffin’s first Concerto Aria, the many months process has helped her to learn and gain performance experience.

“This was my first concerto ever to undertake, so it was a bit daunting at the beginning,” Griffin said. “However, watching all of the puzzle pieces required to learn a concerto slowly come together throughout that time has been a wonderful learning experience.”

Vocal music major Jude Balthazar found preparation for Concerto Aria to be very difficult.

“Getting ready for Sunday has been challenging,” Balthazar said. “I like to devote my time, energy and emotion into preparing for a performance, but until recently it hasn’t been happening for me.”

Griffin felt that the process of preparing for Concerto Aria has been a emotional yet rewarding rollercoaster.

“It was so much to take in all at once that coming to terms with everything was difficult for me to grasp,” Griffin said. “However, I am filled with gratitude to have experienced the auditioning process first-hand; it was an honor to experience it.”

Lilite was excited for Concerto Aria and its potential to portray emotions and stories through music.

“In many ways, it is the highlight of the year in terms of solo performances,” Lilite said. “It is an excellent way for the OBU student body to put into practice concepts learned in our Fine Arts classes.”

Lilite is proud of the performances due to the fact that he has so many students performing in Concerto Aria.

“I have five singers who were chosen to perform and so I am particularly excited to hear them,” Lilite said. “However, I tend to think of all the music majors as my children. What dad would not be thrilled to watch their children perform?”

Balthazar pictures the “big moment” of his performance in his mind when thinking about Concerto Aria.

“What excites me is to be on stage singing while the orchestra is accompanying me, in front of many people and expressing myself,” Balthazar said. “To me, this is a big moment, it is huge.”

Griffin was surprised that she was chosen to perform in Concerto Aria as a freshman.

“It’s quite intimidating, yet exhilarating at the same time,” Griffin said. “Making Concerto Aria my freshman year was something that I never anticipated happening.”

Griffin particularly had difficulties in mastering her Mozart piece due to its demanding and precise nature, but she values the lessons it has taught her.

“I was able to look past the technical demands and focus on the overall story the piece was portraying,” Griffin said. “Learning this work has been quite the journey, helping me even more fully appreciate God’s gift of music.”

Since pianists don’t often get the chance to perform with an orchestra, Griffin was especially excited for her performance.

“Being given the opportunity to play as a soloist with an orchestra is absolutely amazing,” Griffin said.  “Just being up on stage experiencing God’s intricate, breathtaking gift of music will be an irreplaceable, unforgettable experience.”

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