Faculty Recital Highlights Musical Variety and Female Composers

Opening with a piano solo, and closing with harp-soprano duet, the Springtime Faculty Recital highlighted pianos, harps, sopranos of different musical eras, also placing an emphasis on female composer visibility. Held in the Timken Room on April 2nd, sunlight flooded the room as the sounds of spring echoed through the audience.

Alix Raspé Gray played harp, accompanying Dr. Jessica McCormack on soprano, for two pieces: female composer Isabella Colbran’s Sei canzoncine Benché ti sia crudel and Vorrei che almen. She discussed that she and McCormack had wanted to highlight female composers, and also find pieces that suited a soprano-harp duet.

“We wanted to do some music by at least a few female composers, so that was why we had the first piece that we played with Isabella Colbran. But, we just thought it was a beautiful repertoire to play, especially because the Fauré is one of my favorite pieces to play with voice,” said Raspé Gray.

Jessica McCormack, soprano, echoed these sentiments, while also highlighting the specialness of the performance because of its springtime environment, and getting to perform with her colleagues in the music department.

“It’s like a beautiful springtime gift, you know what I mean? We are coming out of this pandemic and it’s sunny today, although it’s a bit nippy and I think any day you get to make music is a great day…I think we had a terrific audience and it was great to hear my colleagues,” said McCormack.

Rebecca Plummer, piano, highlighted the variety in the recital as a whole and how her own performance of Bach went.

“I played a Bach French Suite, he wrote six of them, and I played the third one in B-minor… I love to play Bach. I just love the way that he composes the music…Any time I have a chance to be on the stage with my colleagues, it’s like a present…I think it went well. I also just loved the variety of music, I think it made the performance really special,” said Plummer.

Bonnie Anderson, piano, both accompanied a soprano on the piano and also performed her own piano solo to Ottorino Respighi’s “Notturno.” She reflected on her performance and the significance of Respighi’s composition.

“I chose the Notturno by Respighi because it is so beautiful, and it is not often played because a lot of people think of Respighi as being an orchestral composer, which he is. But, there’s a set of six solo piano pieces that he has written, and this was one of my favorites. And, it just shows the beautiful seniorities and harmonies of the piano…I felt like I had a really nice range of triple piano, and fortissimo, and I felt like I used the full possibilities of this beautiful piano here in the Timken Room,” said Anderson.
Raspé Gray also emphasized the uniqueness of this performance in relation to the COVID pandemic, and how celebrating her fellow faculty’s work in the spring sunshine was really special.

“We just kept trying to have these faculty recitals, and they kept getting canceled due to the COVID numbers, so it was wonderful to be able to get to do that finally, and to get to perform with Jess. It was just so fun and we had a great time together…I think we had a great time. And, especially as the sun was pouring in, and we were playing French music, you cannot ask for anything better,” said Raspé Gray.