After graduating from Keene State in the spring of 2020, Cora Dykens returned to campus to play her senior clarinet recital. She took the stage on Saturday, November 14 in front of a socially-distant live audience and a livestream for those watching at home.
Her journey with the clarinet began when she was 10, according to Dykens, when she played in her fifth grade band. Just over a decade later, she played her senior recital, concluding her time in Keene State’s music program.
COVID-19 presented some interesting challenges in terms of execution of the recital, but Dykens and her team were able to turn these problems into solutions. The changing state of the pandemic caused some last-minute changes to the recital, Dykens noted.
“A week before the recital, we got some new guidelines from the state about how only five wind players can be on the stage and still have a live audience. Unfortunately, the KSC Clarinet Choir, who are featured in my recital, is a group of seven, meaning if we decided to perform that piece on the live recital, an audience wouldn’t be allowed. So, we decided to record that piece ahead of time, that way there could still be a live audience for the recital,” Dykens said.
Despite these challenges, Dykens’ recital made its way to the stage. It provided a platform for her to showcase her evolution as a musician as a result of her work at Keene State. Stephanie Jenkins, Dykens’ clarinet teacher, says she has grown immensely throughout her time in the program.
“When Cora arrived at KSC, she already had strong technique and a good sound. I think the areas she has grown the most are in her tone quality, interpretation and phrasing, and her overall mastery of the intricacies of the instrument,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins goes further to express how Dykens has adapted to the particularly tricky circumstances brought on by the pandemic, “Cora has adapted very well to the restrictions caused by COVID-19… When rehearsing she has had to distance herself from the pianist. It is difficult to create a sense of unity and collaboration when distanced, and I have been impressed with how well Cora has adjusted.”
As a senior, this was Dykens’ final chance to take the stage at KSC.
“This recital is something that I’ve been working towards for so long, and finally having it be happening is such a good feeling,” Dykens said.
For information about more recitals and other live performances, visit the Redfern Arts Center website.
Caitlin Howard can be contacted at: