Family members, students, and supporting patrons of the Schwob School of the Arts gathered in the RiverCenter to enjoy a performance from professor Earl Coleman and his vocal studio. The theme of the recital, selected by Coleman, was spirituals. The recital was split into three sections, each beginning with Coleman introducing the history of spirituals and how they brought hope to individuals in times of desperation.
Before the performance, Coleman and four of his students sat down to discuss the recital and what it is like to be a student in such an advanced music prep school. Coleman holds his students to high standards, regardless of age or year. When picking a piece for a student, he wants to challenge them to reach their full potential. He takes pride in his students, stating,“You see the growth each year from the beginning to the end.”
After singing the final note in “O, What a Beautiful City,” Olivia McWaters bowed to a room filled with applause. As she turned to go back to her seat, she was stopped as Coleman tells his “first victim” to come back to the spotlight. This was the first of a few mid-recital critiques that Coleman will do for the benefit of his students. Coleman has years of experience performing, teaching, and putting on excellent recitals. Unlike other performances from Schwob, Coleman not only uses the recitals to give his students performance experience, but he selects students to help on stage after their pieces. Coleman helps his students by listing what about the performance could be corrected. From how to work on volume to how to move to your music, Coleman explains it all to the audience and his student.
McWaters, a junior music education major, was not phased by the onstage critique. She finds the impromptu critique session helpful. McWaters states, “It’s nerve wracking, but it blurs the line between the audience and the performer ... There is a deeper connection.” Senior Nicklaus White agreed “Being vulnerable is a very hard thing in front of strangers,” White said. “It’s one thing that I’ve learned to accept. You have to be vulnerable and put your feelings on stage so that it does blur the line even more.”
McWaters and White’s words were true, as the singers did not skip a beat after Coleman helped a few selected students. The audience listened closely as Coleman helped his students sing comfortably and move to the rhythm of their piece.
The professional performers sang riveting spirituals, one after the other. All students performed with the charisma of a seasoned Broadway actor, moving to the rhythm of the spiritual and further captivating the audience. Senior Erica Humbert admitted to being nervous before the recital but revealed that once she got on stage “All of [the nerves] just go away.”
The Schwob School of Music is a conservatory bursting at the seams with talent and creativity. All of the students at Schwob are preparing to take spots in the musical performance industry. However, the students do not think of each other as enemies, but as a family.
The recital ended with the studio as a whole performing “Peace Like A River, Kum Ba Ya” directed by Coleman. The presentation was nothing short of stellar. Coleman and his studio’s hard work and effort did not go unnoticed.
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