By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor
Several times each semester, Oklahoma Baptist University’s Potter Auditorium fills with students, faculty and community members to celebrate their achievements through performance.
This year, OBU will celebrate student’s musical skills through the 45th annual Concerto-Aria performance 7:30 p.m., February 17. The performance is free and open to the public.
“Concerto-Aria was begun in 1974 to give outstanding student performers an opportunity to play piano concertos, instrumental concertos, and to sing opera arias with a full Orchestra,” professor of Music and orchestra conductor for Concerto-Aria Dr. James Vernon said. “Students audition in December and are selected to perform in the February concert.”
Being selected to perform in Concerto-Aria is an honor and the audition process happens in two segments.
“Students are chosen during their fall semester juries to compete for a place in the Concerto-Aria finals, which occurs during finals week,” Vernon said. “The entire music faculty judges the final auditions and the top students are chosen to perform.”
Like many audition processes, Concerto-Aria auditions can be stressful for students.
“I wasn’t really sure if I was going to even make it to that round,” sophomore vocal music education major Katherine ‘Katie’ Logan said. “It had been like a weird audition I guess and so I was really excited that I was going to get to audition again.”
Learning to face the challenges of the audition helps students improve as performers and musicians.
“It was very much a growing experience,” Logan said. “Because a lot of those professors hadn’t even heard me sing much before and so it was really exciting and interesting getting to perform in front of the dean and in front of a lot of other music professors. And then making it was kind of surreal.”
Next students face the difficulties of preparing the for the performance itself.
“One of the biggest challenges has been stage anxiety and getting past that,” Logan said. “And it’s been a challenge since coming to OBU. I’ve never been a huge fan of performing which is funny since my major is singing, but that’s been really hard for me.”
However, Logan said the process has helped her grow.
“In the end reminding myself that I’m still doing this for the glory of the Lord and so it’s not about whether or not I get every note perfect or if can have the best phrasing, but it matters completely where my heart is and that has been really helping get rid of the stage anxiety,” Logan said. “It’s just being able to say that I am not doing this for any one person, I am doing this for the Lord.”
Other students struggle with the scheduling hurdles posed by the preparation.
“The most challenging aspect of preparing for this concert is being able to balance it with everything else in terms of school and practice time spent on other repertoire for an upcoming recital,” junior instrumental music education major Leo Chavez said. “That and also scheduling times to work together with Madi [Maddison Trammell] since we are both pretty busy.”
Chavez’s performance in the concert will be somewhat different since he will be performing a duet with orchestral accompaniment, rather than a solo.
“The piece I am playing is called Konzertstuck no. 2 op. 114 for 2 clarinets by Felix Mendelssohn,” Chavez said. “I will be performing the third movement with my great friend Madison Trammell.”
The performance contains a wide range of soloists and featured performers alongside the Chavez-Madison duo and singer Logan. The featured students include sophomore instrumental music major Alex Benito on saxophone and junior music education major Anne Aguayo on vocals.
A composition by senior music composition major Isaac Reel will also be featured.
For Logan, and for some of the other students, performing in Concerto-Aria is there first opportunity to be featured with an orchestra.
“You are learning to work with an orchestra because there will be an orchestra accompaniment,” Logan said. “And as a vocalist especially that – as a musician – that doesn’t always happen. We’re used to having like a piano behind us, but not like a full orchestra, so that adds new elements and working with a conductor.”
However, despite the challenges of the performance, students seem to be doing quite well.
“I am always amazed at the talent level of our students,” Vernon said. “It is remarkable that they are able to perform at such a high level at the undergraduate level, and it is a testament to their studio instructors to prepare them so well for the auditions and the concert. Our students and faculty are amazing.”