Managing Executive Editor
At the end of their four years at Keene State College, students take pride in showing what they have accomplished and the skills they have mastered. For those who major in any form of music, that means a senior recital.
Throughout the year, seniors are responsible for putting together their own recital concert. From selecting a date to selecting repertoire, recital is put completely into the hands of the student.
Senior Ryan Tatara performed clarinet in his senior recital on March 3. “It was kind of nerve-wracking. I’ve known I’ve had to do it since I’ve come here. I picked the pieces a little over a year ago, so it [has] just been a lot of work behind the scenes,” Tatara said.
Tatara said that he had been working on these pieces for a year, so the stakes were high to ensure the performance went well. “I have to make sure [I] really know all [my] stuff,” Tatara said.
To maintain his focus, Tatara said he tried not to overwhelm himself with the idea that it was his senior recital. “In the moment, I wasn’t thinking about that too much because I would start overthinking things. So I just sort of underplayed it to myself. I’ve performed on that stage for larger audiences before, so I thought it was just another one of those smaller performances,” Tatara said.
“Then when I got on stage I was like, ‘Oh, this is my senior recital. Once I finish this piece, I’m not done, I have three more pieces to do.’ Beforehand I was underplaying it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the moment. But I certainly wasn’t trying to focus on it too much.”
In terms of the approach to the recital itself, Tatara said he had to ramp up the practice that went into it. “For a one-piece recital I might work with my pianist once or twice a week before, and just run it. For this I had been working with my pianist once or twice a week for three weeks, which is more than I’m used to doing. So it was definitely a lot more intensive.”
While Tatara has completed his senior recital, many seniors are still waiting to perform theirs. Music Composition and Music Technology major Alexander Wilderman has his recital in the near future. As a Music Composition major, senior recitals take a bit of a different turn compared to a traditional instrumental one. “The senior recitals for composition majors is basically works that the comp majors have created get performed by [the students] and colleagues,” Wilderman said.
The Composition majors are required to write several pieces that are performed by their choice of instrumentalist. As a Composition major, Wilderman said the only experience he has with recitals are through the Music Workshop class. “I’ve never had an actual recital. This one is pretty daunting.”
In contrast with a traditional recital, the one of a Composition major requires the student to completely give control away during a performance. “It’s scary. You hope that everything goes well. You can only do so much and then it’s put in the performers’ hands,” Wilderman said.
However, Composition majors are able to share their vision with the performer up until the moment they go out on stage. For a Composition major, a senior recital can be very special. “It can show off my talent as a composer. I also feel it’s great for my classmates and colleagues because it shows off their talents in playing and working with living composers,” Wildman said. “Because we are a contemporary school, a lot of the pieces are Bach. We can’t talk to them and be like ‘So what was your thinking process?’”
Fellow Music Composition and Music Technology major Geoffrey Edwards will also be performing his senior recital in a few weeks. Edwards has performed in several recitals and events on campus due to his focus on the cello and piano. While other seniors feel nervous about their upcoming recitals, Edwards has a sense of excitement. “It feels really good. I’ve been part of a lot of different performances, whether it’s student run or faculty advisor, as well as being part of other people’s recitals,” Edwards said.
“So this is a recital based completely on me and my work. It’s like a senior capstone. It honestly is really exciting,” Edwards said. “It’s a moment of realizing where all your work has come to in the last four years.”
In addition to writing, his music and selecting a group, Edwards also made posters to publicize this recital. “It’s an experience of putting together a whole concert from scratch,” Edwards said.
With this being his senior recital, Edwards said his family as well as his friends outside the Music Department will be attending his performance. Edwards said he can’t wait to show them what he has been working on and learning. “This is the first really big experience that applied work is being put to its full potential. I spent the past four years learning in classes, sitting through them, overseeing and trying to get knowledge instead of actually using it,” Edwards said. “Now there is this scenario that I get to show what I learned. It shows that I’m well rounded after all the work I have done at Keene.”
Erin McNemar can be contacted at