The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Community enjoys "Music and Lyrics" vocal performance

Photo courtesy of Stacey Brett Conner
Photo courtesy of Stacey Brett Conner

On Saturday, September 27, the Welker Room in Chatham University’s James Laughlin Music Hall was set up with rows of chairs and a grand piano in preparation for the performance of “Music and Lyrics,” a vocal recital.

By 7:00 p.m. the room was filled with about 30 people eager to hear the vocal offerings of Stacey Brett Conner (Soprano), Chatham’s Director of Choral Activities, and Zachary Marshall (Tenor), Assistant Professor of Music at Eastern Kentucky University, accompanied by his wife Jennifer Marshall, Piano accompanist at Eastern Kentucky University.

The performers entered from the back of the room and made their way towards the piano at the front. All three were dressed in black tie attire: Conner in a floor length black gown, Mrs. Marshall in a black tea-length dress, and Mr. Marshall in a tuxedo.

The three took their places at the front of the room and performed their first piece–“Benedictus” from “Mass in B Minor” by J.S. Bach–after which Conner welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming to the performance. She then took a moment to introduce the next pieces, Shubert’s “Suleika” and “Suleika II,” explaining that the pieces were about a young woman addressing the East and West Winds about her love.

Throughout the performance, the three performed solos and duets ranging in time from Bach (1685-1750) to Jason Robert Brown (b. 1970). They also performed art songs, opera arias, sacred music, and musical theatre pieces from a wide range of countries including Austria, France, Great Britain, Italy, and America.

For the pieces in foreign languages, the program even included translations so that the audience could understand the meanings and the emotions behind the pieces.

“The Chatham performance was actually the third of a series, however, each series varied, as we would change the program to incorporate different selections,” Conner said.

She came up with the idea for the concert after talking to Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, who she met at her church.

“I was inspired to plan this recital while talking with [them] about having a repertoire prepared and needing a venue in which to perform,” Conner said.

Mrs. Marshall was the previous organist for the Christ United Methodist Church, and Mr. Marshall was the choral director at Bethany College, so the three decided to put together a recital to showcase their repertoires and perform it at all three institutions.

“As a professional vocalist, you are always learning new pieces and adding them to your repertoire; and specifically you work on varied languages, most commonly French, Italian, German, and English,” Conner said. “This is the standard for a vocal recital structure.”

Conner went on to explain that most of the pieces performed in “Music and Lyrics” were learned specifically for the show, and were chosen based on whether or not the performers identified with them and their musicality.

 “I like to perform selections that I find challenging but I know the audience will enjoy, as well as pieces that are fun to sing.”

With the practice that is required to perfect a show, as well as the process of memorizing the pieces, Conner explained that a recital typically takes several months to prepare.

However the preparation was certainly appreciated by the audience, who applauded enthusiastically after every piece.  The audience included Chatham students and staff, as well as members of the broader community.

Even the youngest member of the audience, a toddler in the front row, seemed to be enjoying himself. Conner later identified him as her son, saying, “Just so you know the youngest audience member is my son, Lincoln. He’s two and a half.”

After the performance ended people stayed to chat and enjoy the refreshments that were provided. The general sentiment among the people in attendance was that the show was a success.

Conner echoed this sentiment, saying, “I am very pleased with the performance of “Music and Lyrics.” I feel that we performed at a level that would show a mastering of our skills.”

She went on to point out the Chatham music department holds a wide variety of concerts throughout the year and encouraged people to attend.

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