When we think of highly skilled musicians, we tend to think of actors on the big screen or those on stage at Carnegie Hall. We may not realize that there is incredible musical talent in the Twin Ports, especially on campus at UMD in the music department. As part of the music program, students are required to plan, create, and perform a solo music performance for at least one recital. As you can imagine, a lot of time, work, and practice goes into creating a stage piece; be sure and support your Bulldog musicians by attending! All of the student recitals are free and open to the public. For a list of the concerts and recitals at Weber Music Hall this spring, click here.
While the support from their faculty network begins on the first day of registration, that same solid backing follows them even after the lights have dimmed. “Their recital is much more than a performance to us. A lot of the faculty cry,” said Dr. Jefferson Campbell, department head and associate professor of bassoon. “The faculty believe in the students. We don’t really have faculty turnover, and some don’t even want to retire. That shows their pride in the students. I believe in this department. I believe in where we’re going, and I enjoy the students.”
When students finally do perform for their recital, it is a special moment for their applied lesson instructor. Most students spend their time at UMD with the same lesson instructor until they graduate. After spending so much time one-on-one, students and instructors form a strong bond and often think of each other as family. “We want to get our students in front of a larger audience because they’re good, and they deserve it,” said Campbell.
View from a Vocalist
Garrett Passer, originally from Blue Earth, will perform his recital with Melanie Spring on Tues., April 29 at 7:30 pm. Working with Dr. Stanley Wold, Passer has prepared his part of the recital in a short amount of time. “I started planning my recital last semester, but many of the pieces I will be performing I just started working on this semester,” explained Passer. “I have been working on being able to memorize faster over the years, so I can focus on the musicality of the piece. Dr. Wold has instilled in me the importance of understanding the language and the notes to create music.”
The repertoire for his part of the recital ranges from German and French pieces to the musical theater duet “Take Me or Leave Me” from the Broadway musical Rent, which he will perform with Spring. He is also debuting an English art song composed for him by Spring. “Melanie and I are great friends, and because we are so close, it allows us to work together well and feed off one another.”
Passer already knows this experience will be very beneficial. “My dream is to end up in a small jazz ensemble much like vocal jazz at UMD, but I am not limiting myself to that. This experience shows that I am versatile and can learn music quickly. I also now have all of this music in my repertoire if I need it for an audition.”
A Pianist’s Perspective
Hibbing native, Steven Zubich, will perform his solo piano recital on Sat., May 3 at 3 pm. For this recital, Zubich will be performing sixteen pieces that he has memorized. He talks about the importance of choosing the right repertoire, or list of songs. “It’s important to hit at least three of the main musical eras. I like to pick music that helps me explore all of them.”
Once the repertoire is chosen, the next step is writing program notes. “Program notes explain the pieces you’re playing to the audience. It is helpful because they don’t have to worry about knowing your repertoire before they hear it.”
After participating in U-Singers and the percussion ensemble, Zubich looks forward to his hour-long solo performance. “I don’t dislike ensemble work. They [the ensembles] have helped me be a better musician and taught me to listen and work with others. I just prefer solo work. I feel more in control and have more freedom to express myself.”
Under the guidance of his applied lesson instructor, Dr. Tracy Lipke-Perry, Zubich has spent a large amount of time preparing for this performance. He has been working on most of the music for over a year. On any given day, he spends two to three hours practicing and spends almost eight hours on the weekends, but he knows the importance of all this hard work. “I plan on being a professional, and this is helping me to learn how to plan ahead. It eventually becomes second nature.”
Striking a Chord with the Audience
Campbell stresses the importance for non-music students to attend recitals and concerts in Weber. “The exposure to other fields helps your brain step away for a moment and get a new perspective when you return to your field of work. Being exposed to different fields of study is part of the university experience.”
Zubich wants people to know that they don’t have to feel intimidated and that they don’t have to be a musician to understand the music. “Not everyone who goes to art museums is an artist. It is my job to understand the music. It is the job of the audience to listen and appreciate it, and to develop an appreciation and learn something is a huge opportunity.”
Passer agrees. “Give it a chance. We put in a lot of hard work, and this is your chance to see the hard work that we do.”
It is important to him and everyone in the department that these performances have an audience, and Campbell agrees, “I want people to hear how good the students are, and I also want our students to experience performing in front of a full house.”
For a list of the concerts and recitals at Weber Music Hall this spring, click here.