By Abigail Meredith, Assistant Arts Editor
All was dark in Yarborough, until Jillian Pullen’s voice lit up the room. The vocal music education major shared her voice with friends, family and excited students Friday, Feb. 24.
“The recital is an opportunity for [music majors] to show our friends and family what we have been working on, and it allows us to glorify God through our singing/or playing, the presentation, and it builds integrity through the whole process of preparing for a recital,” Pullen said.
The recitals are not only intended to show what has been learned.
“Recitals are required for our degree plan,” Pullen said. “Depending on your major determines how many recitals you must give, when you give it and how long. Our instrumental majors have them too.”
Some juniors have recitals instead of waiting until senior year.
“Juniors having recitals is most common for the music education majors,” Pullen said. “We always student teach in the fall of our senior year, therefore, a majority of the time we will give a junior recital. Our vocal performance majors also give junior recitals.”
Rebecca Ballinger, Assistant Professor of Voice, said recitals are important because they represent the years of studying the student has completed.
“It is rare for a field to have such a public display of things they have learned while in school,” Ballinger said. “It is not a test or a certificate earned, but a living, breathing presentation of skill. It is an exciting thing to watch.”
Pullen’s recital took quite a bit of preparation.
“I think it is almost impossible to notate the numerous hours of instruction, practice of both technique and the musical pieces and rehearsal,” Ballinger said. “I would say that a recital is a culmination of all of a student’s years of study at OBU, and not just in voice.”
Pullen’s character as a student and a singer helped prepare her for the recital.
“Jill has a knack for blossoming into the character of the piece once she is performing,” Ballinger said. “She takes the time to understand the text and tries her best to tell that character’s story, which she does quite well. She is a sincere performer and has grown in her technique tremendously over the last few semesters.”
Pullen had to put in huge amounts of time and effort in order to grow to the challenge of a successful recital.
“My voice professor and I began picking out music for my recital back in the summer of 2016,” Pullen said. “I took extra hours of voice lessons this semester to assist in the learning the notes, rhythms, text of the piece and the language, the background information that goes into a song and the developing the character for it and then memorizing it all getting program performance ready.”
Choosing the songs was a difficult but necessary part of the preparation process.
“The pieces performed were specifically intended to bridge a wide range of genres, styles and periods in music history,” Ballinger said.
“Those in attendance at the recital heard pieces from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, as well as from the twentieth century and musical theater—from Mozart to Bernstein. We train our singers to be versatile. It is rare that a student will perform in only one era or style, so we want to ensure they are flexible and understand the performance practices for each period of music.”
Pullen talked about what songs stood out to her and why.
“There was one song I sang that was probably one of the most demanding: ‘Song to the Moon’. I sang the English translation and it is an aria from the opera ‘Rusalka’ which is all in Czech,” Pullen said. “It is by Dvorak. It is an extremely slow song and so the amount of breath I had to have for each phrase in the song was ridiculous. Even though it was hard, it was one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever sung. The melody is gorgeous and the words are just as beautiful in their own way, so it was very fun getting to bring this character to life,” she said.
“My favorite song from my recital was the very last one. ‘I Don’t Need a Roof’ by Andrew Lippa from the musical ‘Big Fish’. One line from the song says ‘I don’t need a roof to say, I love you. I don’t need a roof to call you mine.’ That pretty much describes the whole song. This song was for my wonderful boyfriend, Colton Seamans. Getting to sing this song for him knowing he was right there on the front row smiling from ear to ear, being my biggest fan just made it perfect. I was told there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience, so I’d say I met my goal for that song,” she said.
Pullen gave the performance her all, and saw satisfying results.
“From the recital to the reception, the whole evening went extremely well,” Pullen said. “I just surrendered the night to the Lord because I knew I could not do it justice without Him. It all went according to His will; therefore, I can’t complain about anything, I sang for Him first and foremost and that’s what made the night so great.”