Senior Recital: Olivia Howell ’11

Excitement bubbled amongst the audience at Olivia Howell ’11’s Senior Recital. She performed a series of classical pieces that displayed her musical talent on the piano. Howell began with “Arioso in A-flat major” by the well-known composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece immediately set a pleasant, tranquil mood with its strong bass and light melody that seemed to match the cloudy, calm weather outside. Howell’s aptitude with trills and other musical ornaments provided a musical escape for the audience. Next, she performed “Sonata in D major, Hoboken XVI 19” by Joseph Haydn. Howell showed her maturity as a pianist by performing all three movements of the piece, the Moderato, Andante and Finale. The sweet classical tone of the Andante transitioned smoothly into the more bouncy Finale, in which the crisp articulation of the right hand and the steady tempo throughout the movement showcased Howell’s ability. Frederic Francois Chopin’s “Nocturne in E Minor, Op. 72 No. 1” initially brought a gloom that loomed over Timken, setting an entirely different tone after the previous piece. A few more bars in, a mysterious, high melody quickly joined the wandering bass notes. Howell played the beautiful melody with strength, and the audience could see that her understanding of the piece went far beyond technical mastery with the way she portrayed the deep emotions of Chopin, who is known for his ability to write passionate music for the piano. After the brief intermission, during which the audience was left in anticipation, Howell continued to impress the audience with another nocturne by Chopin, “Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op. 9 No. 1.” The well-known piece opened with an alluring melody that captured the audience’s attention with its smooth scales. Howell’s musicality shone throughout the piece as she had included her own interpretation that revealed deep emotions buried in the music pages. The pianist then went on to perform “La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin in G-flat major,” which means “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” by Claude Debussy. Howell’s charming performance created a soothing atmosphere that set the tone for the upcoming pieces. Howell’s fingers danced elegantly over the keys, creating the pleasant, flowing melody of “Arabesque in E major No. 1” by Debussy. This piece was one of the audience’s favorites. Audrey McMurtrie ’11 said, “I was really impressed with Olivia’s ability to play piano…I really liked the Arabesque because it was very beautiful.” The recital came to an end with a pop-jazz arrangement by Nancy Faber of the renowned “Pachelbel Canon” by Johann Pachelbel. The enjoyable twist on the classic ended the performance on an enthusiastic note. Howell’s performance received a standing ovation from the awe-filled audience. Lastly, the pianist expressed her gratitude and admiration for her piano teacher, who has taught her for 13 years, with a short speech. Howell, who does not have plans on majoring in piano, will continue to study piano in college by continuing lessons.