Alive with the sound of music

Behind the scenes of a Muhlenberg recital

Sarah Levine '22 sings "Right Hand Man" from the musical "Something Rotten."

“I listen to music every day. It’s a de-stressor and so good to just sit in a room and listen to some feel good music,” said Elizabetta Malagon ’22, a mezzo-soprano, who sang “Nowadays” from the musical Chicago at the 1st Student Recital.

On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 2, students and faculty members gathered inside the Recital Hall of the Baker Center for the Arts to hear musical performances from Muhlenberg music students. Each semester, the Music Department typically holds four or five of these recitals. The performers of the recitals take voice or instrument lessons on campus with a faculty member.

The recitals give students the experience of performing what they have been working on during their lessons in front of an audience and the audience is given the opportunity to listen to a variety of songs.

There were six performers at the First Student recital. Five students sang and were accompanied by either Vincent Trovato or June Thomas, both Music Department faculty members. There was also a student piano performance.

To prepare for the recital, the students rehearsed many pieces with their instructors and decided which one would be best for the performance. 

One of the performers was baritone Joseph Grisanzio ’23 who sang “Ilona” from the musical She Loves Me

“I had worked with my voice instructor on a variety of pieces, but this one stood out to me because it was a song [in which] I could really let my voice be both strong and free at the same time,” said Grisanzio. 

Over the past few weeks, Grisanzio’s voice instructor, Eduardo Azzati, worked with him on the song and trained his voice to better support breath, especially with longer and higher notes. Overall, Grisanzio felt his performance went well.

“The song fit my voice well, and I felt quite prepared. Of course, I do look at my performance from an objective standpoint as well to see where I succeeded and where I could improve,” said Grisanzio. 

 Music is how Grisanzio expresses his life.

“A song can transport me from pain, or remind me of how good of a day I’m having. I find myself running to the nearest piano every time I need to vent my emotions or if a melody comes to mind that I just can’t part with until I record it,” said Grisanzio. “Music transports, excites, and motivates me.”

Samantha Horowitz ’22 was the only jazz singer at the recital. She sang Lionel Hampton and Johnny Mercer’s “Midnight Sun.” To Horowitz, the song was about someone who lost the person they love and their journey towards realizing that life is still beautiful.  

To prepare for the recital, Horowitz worked with Thomas, her vocal coach, and on her own. 

“Since it’s a jazz piece, I needed to make sure that it had some heart to it, but also that it wasn’t in the same style as Ella Fitzgerald,” said Horowitz. “Jazz [is] all about making whatever song you sing your own.”

Horowitz has been a musician for fifteen years, as she first started to learn how to play the piano when she was around five years old. She then slowly moved towards the violin, viola, guitar and banjo, as well as the accordion. Eventually, as she became older, she started to focus more on her voice.

Another performer, Sam Wolf ’20, is a tenor who performed “Heaven on Their Minds,” from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. For the recital, Wolf rehearsed once a week for forty-five minutes in his voice lessons with Thomas. He is primarily a singer, but used to want to play the alto saxophone and is a self-taught pianist. 

“I got interested in music when I first heard The Beatles as a young child,” said Wolf. “My voice developed over time by mimicking what I heard in their songs.”

The recital ended with Snow Du ’22, who played the piano. She tries to practice the piano an hour a day, but sometimes only practices three or four times a week. At the recital, Du played Sonata in A Major, K. 429,  which she learned during her lessons with her teacher, Trovato. She has been playing the piano since she was four years old. 

“My parents wanted me to play piano as a hobby, so I listened to them, but now I realize music is now part of my life,” said Du.

Many of the students plan to continue performing music after Muhlenberg.

“I hope to continue singing for people after I leave Muhlenberg, possibly joining a band,” said Wolf. “I just need the band first.”

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