Arts Encounter #2

Before the event: The event that I chose to attend was a senior recital at the Setnor school of music. The recital was done by a mezzo-soprano singer. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to be a mezzo-soprano, and I found out that it is the voice of a female singer in between soprano and alto, and it is known as a “half soprano” voice type. Unfortunately, the program is not released until about 20 minutes before the performance so I was not able to look into the songs being performed, but I did just listen to some classical voice pieces before I went to the recital, and something that I always forget that is very interesting about singing is that singers have to learn to sing in many different languages even though they may only speak just one.


During the event:  When I walked into the auditorium, I had taken a packet along with a program. The packet contained translations of all of the songs that were not sung in English. I found this to be a very important aspect of the performance. While the singer had a wonderful voice, it would have been very hard to get the same experience without knowing what she was singing about. Usually when I go to musical performances of classical music, the audience is usually quite serious and intent on listening very carefully. I found this recital to be a bit different from that. The lyrics to some of the songs that were sung were very humorous and silly, and the singer delivered them with perfect facial expression and body language, so even though the words were being sung in a different language, it was very relevant to know when something was funny, or when something became very solemn and quiet in the lyrics. The last song that she sang was my favorite song. It was very beautiful, and it was a slow song that had a light and flowing. When I first heard the chords in the piano, it had sounded like music that originated in Asia. After the song ended there was a brief pause of silence and it really added to the experience of the song. After the recital ended, I had found out that the last song was written by the singer’s mother just for this recital. Her mother is from Korea and has been a composer for almost all of her life.


Questions: One question that I really thought about especially at intermission, was how do singers go about selecting their repertoire for concerts and recitals? I felt the songs at this recital went very well together and I am wondering if it just happened to work out very well, or if there was a method to the madness of song selection. Another question I was thinking about all throughout the performance was how do singers learn how to pronounce so many words in different languages without knowing how to speak it? It is quite impressive.


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