On Saturday, Feb. 25 family and friends of Anna Bobok ‘23 gathered in Egner Chapel to hear her perform in her senior recital. In a long blue gown, Bobok reentered before each section of her piece which was separated into different music genres and types of love. Seniors majoring in music with a concentration in performance must schedule their performances by Nov. 1 of their fall semester and design their program a month prior, with a choice between the Recital Hall and Egner Chapel. As a mezzo-soprano, Bobok’s music choices reflect her work throughout the past four years in the music department.
“Senior recitals are typically billed as a culmination of four years of work, and this was certainly that and more,” Bobok says. The recital began with “Love of Love” where she performed three songs from “Le Nozze di Figaro,” a comic opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Regarding her song choices, she says she “pulled songs from my freshman year, my opera character study over quarantine, and even those I worked on before I came to Muhlenberg, then I rounded out the program with a few completely new pieces I learned last fall.”
Bobok designed the program herself, which included classical songs by Johannes Brahms for “Romantic Love” and the song cycle “A Charm of Lullabies, Op. 41” by Benjamin Britten for “Familial Love.” Elaina Ragusa ‘23 says that one of her favorite songs was “The Nurse’s Song,” No. 5, and that “the piece was practically written for her, I loved the moments of stillness and the dynamic shifts involved.”
The following section after intermission was “Hatred of Love” where Bobok details her love of musical theatre in the program notes: “While all these songs show disdain for love, they helped me learn to love music and performance and brought me to this stage.” “I Resolve” from “She Loves Me” was a song that showed this appreciation and was “one of the first character studies I did with Trisha [Budlong], and I always loved how her strength and silliness combine.”
“I was so inspired by how different love looked in each set and decided to explore the many forms love could take in choosing the rest of my pieces, which made the process a lot easier and more fun.”-Anna Bobok ’23
Budlong, an adjunct professor of voice, says that the greatest gift of being an applied lesson teacher is “to work with someone for up to eight semesters and see their growth throughout their collegiate experience.” Looking back on Bobok’s growth, “Anna, in particular, has always looked to improve her artistry and her vocal technique simultaneously and we have designed her lessons and repertoire to support that,” Budlong adds.
Bobok echoes this preparation in her lessons and how much they ran through the entire performance and through trouble spots: “Outside of my lessons I would also run through trouble spots to work them out of my system and sometimes even run through the whole program; as Trisha liked to say, I just needed to make every possible mistake so I didn’t make them on my actual recital.”
Bobok was also accompanied by Cat Duncan ‘23 and Anna Holmwood ’24 for the song “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” from “Company.” Bobok explains, “They all really were up to the challenge and were so kind to help me out, and I couldn’t be more thankful… One of the biggest obstacles was convincing them how good they sounded and how well they were doing and have always done, so I hope after the recital and all the compliments they rightfully received, they start to believe it.”
Duncan shared, “I started practicing the piece on my own during winter break, and then when we got back to campus, the Annas [Holmwood and Bobok] and I started practicing together once weekly. We also practiced with Anna’s vocal instructor and the pianist, and had one final dress rehearsal before the final recital.” She added, “It was such a jazzy and fun piece to select!”
After “Hatred of Love,” Bobok took a microphone out to sing three pop/commercial songs, “Enchanted” by Taylor Swift, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes, and “I Run to You” by Lady A, a duet with Danny Milkis ’23 for “Longing for Love.” Milkis says, “Anna and I both love to sing, and we’ve been talking about what we love to sing for over a year, and would sing karaoke together on long car trips.” Although Bobok chose the song, “to actually perform a song that meant so much to her in a venue like the chapel was a moment I know I’ll never forget,” Milkis adds.
Ragusa was in the audience, and said this duet “brought me to tears. You could tell that both of them were put at ease by simply looking into each other’s eyes—not to mention the song being beautifully sung.”
Milkis continues, “I was so honored to have been able to learn the ins and outs of this style of music and to feel the beautiful emotions ingrained in this melody… Anna’s recital was a huge influence in helping me to get in the headspace I’m hoping to embrace for my own project next month.”
Bobok’s last theme of love, “Self Love,” closed the recital with three contemporary musical theatre songs, ending with “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” (2011) with choreography from Budlong and a duet with Sarah Barainyak, which received a standing ovation from her audience. About her song choices, Bobok says, “I was so inspired by how different love looked in each set and decided to explore the many forms love could take in choosing the rest of my pieces, which made the process a lot easier and more fun.”