A recital is a testament to a student’s musical growth while enrolled in music school. It’s a chance to put honed skills on display. And (here’s the important part) it’s a requirement in order to get that degree.
It’s that time of the year. The semester — and for some, the college experience — is coming to an end, and music students are getting ready for their recitals. A recital is a testament to a student’s musical growth while enrolled in music school. It’s a chance to put honed skills on display. And (here’s the important part) it’s a requirement in order to get that degree.
For a student in the VCU jazz program, two recitals are given: a half-hour junior recital, theoretically given at the end of the student’s third year; and an hour long senior recital, given at the end of their final semester. The recitalist can be as creative as he/she wants with the instrumentations and format of the program, as long as it fulfills some basic bullet points (i.e. a certain amount of self-arranged material, solo and transcription pieces, plenty of improvisations within composed material). It is, after all, their musical voice being showcased, and some voices are expressed in other ways than standard jazz head charts or basic instrumentations.
That could mean big band suites, string quartet arrangements, a drummer playing a piano (as if it were a drumset). Great recitals get talked about for a long time, but unorthdoxy alone does not make a recital great.
While this is all happening, faculty members — generally three of them — sit in the audience and critique and grade the recitalist on subjective criteria. It’s the student’s job to put on a well crafted and organized event that features mostly himself/herself. Sure, their graduating depends on giving two well-executed recitals, but for everyone else, it’s just a good chance to hear some jazz from some young and not-so-young musicians on the scene.
So if you go to a recital to support these students in their rites of passage, cool. They could use it. But these concerts are also a great opportunity for an evening (or afternoon) of free entertainment. Take a date and save some money (let me know how that goes), or just bring yourself. You might be surprised by what you hear.
April 16 Senior Recital: Devonne Harris, drums
April 18 Senior Recital: Connor Thompson, guitar
April 23 Junior Recital: Matthew Hughes, guitar
April 23 Junior Recital: Lucas Fritz, trumpet
April 26 Junior Recital: Sam Sherman, drums
April 28 Junior Recital: Ben White, piano
April 29 Junior Recital: Suzi Fischer, alto saxophone
April 29 Junior Recital: Andrew Walters, drums
April 29 Junior Recital: Paul Willson, guitar
May 1 Senior Recital: Dean Christesen, drums
May 3 Junior Recital: Alexander Herman, drums
May 4 Senior Recital: Kevin Johnson, drums
May 4 Junior Recital: Jonathan Wheelock, bass
Click on the event for more details. Many have information on the other musicians who will be performing and links to Facebook event pages.
Photo credit: The Fayj