A celebration of voice

UB Voice Studio's Fall Recital puts student classical singers on display


Although famous composers such as Franz Schubert and Sergei Rachmaninoff have long been gone, their music was brought to life at UB.

Six students performed the classical vocal melodies of these composers plus others at UB Voice Studio’s Fall Recital in the Baird Recital Hall on Wednesday afternoon. The students showcased songs they had been learning all semester under Tony Arnold, an associate professor of music focusing on vocal performance.

“It is wonderful to see and hear the development of the students throughout the year,” said Krista Seddon, a pianist who provided accompaniment for the singers. “Performing for a live audience is the true test of a person’s strength and musicianship and each rose to the occasion beautifully.”

Each student performed several solo pieces on various emotions and in different languages.

French songs of love, Italian songs of admiration and English songs of sorrow were featured amongst the array of musical pieces.

Michael Fiorica, a freshman English major, sang three songs, each in a different language. “Lachen und Weinen,” a German song, which translates to “Laughter and Weeping,” captured the two different extremes of human emotion – joy and sorrow.

“The most difficult part about singing in foreign languages is having enough of an understanding of the text to communicate the appropriate emotional affect to the audience,” Fiorica said.

The recital began with Elisabeth Klimek, a music history major, performing four pieces by Maurice Ravel. Afterward, Fiorica performed his three pieces by Franz Schubert, John Dowland and George Handel.

Four songs by Handel and Shumann followed Fiorica’s performance; two by Te-An Chen, a sophomore biological sciences major, and two by James Bobak, a junior music composition major.

Katherine Sparks, a senior health and human services major, performed three pieces by Giuseppe Verdi, Ernest Chausson and Henry Purcell. The recital concluded with Daniel Rotshteyn’s, a first-year graduate student working in chemistry, performance of songs by George Handel, Gian Menotti and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

All of the performers who were taught by Arnold said they benefitted from her instruction.

“Arnold has been so helpful in teaching me to really incorporate my entire being into my singing to provide a very moving experience for the audience,” Bobak said.

Arnold uses unorthodox, yet effective teaching methods to help her students, according to Fiorica. She tends to focus on visualization techniques.

Arnold often had students sing to a water bottle as if it was someone they loved or hated, helping them to convey the song’s emotion.

“She focuses on singing as communication and wants to ensure you know that when you’re singing, you’re singing to someone,” Fiorica said.

Arnold also has her students sing while kneeling, swaying or in various positions to strengthen their breathing and allow for better performances.

Rotshetyn described Arnold as “a mixture or Yoda and Mr. Miyagi.”

This blend of characters, along with Arnold’s teachings helped the student performers, who are united in their passion for music, despite their various backgrounds, majors and ambitions.

“Biology will be my profession and singing will always be my passion,” Chen said.

Unlike Chen, Sparks plans to use her love for music to help others. She wants to use “music and other performing arts to help kids from struggling and broken homes.”

The passion behind the music fueled a semester of work for these students, culminating in Wednesday’s performance.

“Magic happens with a live audience,” Seddon said, and the recital brought that magic to UB.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com