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Senior Recitals Mark Bittersweet Ending

By: Hannah Waldera

As we are approaching the end of the year, this bittersweet moment for the music department seniors are coming to an end with their senior recitals. The senior recitals are capstone projects where seniors are tasked with performing pieces of their choosing to Graceland and the community. This can look different for many seniors in the music department. For example, Connor Holben and Naomi Long are seniors in the music department whose senior recitals are approaching. Holben is a vocalist and will be singing as part of his senior recital and Long will be playing the piano for her recital.

Holben is a senior from Minden, Iowa and is majoring in theater along with a minor in music with the hopes of making it to a stage such as Broadway. For his recital, he performed ten pieces on Saturday March 25th in Carol Hall. Holben says that the senior recitals are “a good way to show the work” he has put into four years at Graceland. He has an impressive vocal range which he has had to put in time to develop over his years at Graceland and his senior recital is a good way for him to showcase that to others.

One piece that Holben will be performing is called “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and the Beast which he picked specifically to showcase is vocal range. This song showcases both sides of his voice which is his ability to sing lower or higher. He also says “this piece is a good portrayal for a character because playing the beast is really fun.” By portraying the character or what the piece is trying to tell theaudience, it makes the piece more interesting and the audience more engaged. Holben also has other pieces that are specifically challenging, such as opera pieces that he says will be “a good show stopper.”

Long is also a senior from Jefferson, Iowa and is a music education major with the hopes of becoming a high school band director or becoming a private lessons teacher. Her recital is on April 15th at 2:00pm where she will be playing a variety of pieces on the piano. One of her main pieces is Mozart’s twelve twinkle variations. She explains that “this piece is really difficult and extra difficultbecause everyone knows ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’” While this piece is complex, she really enjoys it because every variation is very different but you can still hear “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in it. Choosing pieces that are both ambitous and entertaining can showcase the amount of work that she is put not onlyinto this recital, but her entire time here at Graceland.

Long has been playing piano for about fifteen years and typically practices for about two hours a day. These recitals allow for her and the rest of the seniors a great way to celebrate all of the time and effort they have put into the program. Long also talks about the mental side about performing. She says that performing and practicing takes a lot of “mental work” because although some of her pieces may not sound hard, sometimes they are physically draining and “mentally taxing to have for minutes of rep.” When performing, performers such as Long need to be “in the mindset of playing” to stay focused for the duration of the performance and to do it well.

Senior recitals are important to the seniors and can allow others to appreciate and experience all of the work they have put into their skills while celebrating their time coming to an end. The recitals are more than just a final project, it allows the seniors to be able to look back at their years at Graceland. Seniors like Holben, Long, and many others would appreciate the support and helping them celebrate their hard work by attending their recitals. As Holben says, “show up!”

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