The lights dim in the theater as the piano booms its thundering keys and the smooth melodies sing from the cello. The violin slices its sweet tunes through the air and the drums shake the earth with their quaking rhythm. The audiences’ breath is stolen in the presence of the music.
The Student Honors Recital took place in Studley Theater on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. Held once at the end of every semester, the event gathers students from the music department to perform classical music masterpieces.
The concert was organized by Alex Peh, a professor in the music department, who hand-picked students from the music department that showed distinct quality and care for their work. He said that giving students the opportunity to achieve their goals will expand their love for music.
“This event is meant to be a culmination of the students’ collective work they have played and practiced at different points in the semester,” Peh said.
The songs, some of which were chosen by the students, take place from the 1600s to the 1990s. The students had the option to either perform individually or in groups of four or more people. Seven acts were performed at the concert, three of which were in groups.
The opening song “Perilous Night,” by John Cage, involved six people taking turns at playing a piano that had its strings bolted and screwed in to alter its sounds. The student dance group partnered with the music department to create a choreographed visual to the song.
Daniel Chiu, a junior voice major at SUNY New Paltz, said the W.A. Mozart piano piece called “Sonata in E – flat major K.,” played by Theresa Orr, a third-year music major, evoked emotion.
“I like the melody created by that song because it filled me with a sensation that made me feel old,” Chiu said.
Dylan McCarthy, a junior jazz performance major at SUNY New Paltz, played the guitar with a group, performing three songs as the final concert act. He said that in preparation for the event, he played each song and practiced them for many hours within the semester.
McCarthy received the opportunity to choose a song for the concert, deciding to go with “Outer Space,” by Grant Green. Having played his instrument for over nine years, he confidently said how much of a separate experience taking part in the concert is from practicing.
“You can practice all you want but when you hit the stage, you’re forced to forget all that,” McCarthy said. “Being in the zone and going with the flow, just having a good time. It is ecstasy.”
Amanda Scannell, a fifth-year pre-music therapy major at SUNY New Paltz, also takes great pride in her music abilities. She played the flute in a group song at the concert called “It’s Better to Be,” by Connor Milton. She said she sees beauty in the flute and has been playing it since the third grade.
“I saw it played in church when I was a kid and I had always wanted to play it myself,” Scannell said. “It is a rewarding instrument and I love playing it.”
Scannell plans to take her love for music to new heights, getting a job in music therapy with a master’s degree. McCarthy plans on using his knowledge of music to teach, perform and manage big events in the music industry.
Peh urged the audience to attend the other events that are coming up in the concert series, to show the students the support they deserve to reach their dreams.