Oberlin Blogs

Recital Season

November 12, 2015

Rory O'Donoghue ’19

With multicolored leaves piling up and Obies one and all waking to gentle frosts in the morning, it's clear that winter is upon us. While this entails the usual sort of winter business, it also means that everyone is incredibly busy because it's the chaotic push toward the end of the semester. Pretty much every student has a full slate of schoolwork or work-work. It's a thrilling time of ferocious multi-tasking and exorbitant coffee consumption, but it can also be a tad overwhelming. In the hectic whirl of being everywhere doing everything NOW, I've found a substantial bit of breathing space in attending recitals. Simple or extravagant, degree-required or impromptu, there are dozens happening in both the con and the college every week, with more and more as the semester progresses. They're immensely valuable resources. Here's why!

1. Just Sit

It's a surprising luxury to just sit and listen. While there are tons of awesome interactive performances on campus too, in a traditional performer-audience recital setting there's a special bliss to absorbing something beautiful without any other requirements or baggage. So many of our classes challenge us to engage and create and perform, it's refreshing to sit still and engage with music at whatever level you desire. It can be a time for reflection, but it can also be simply relaxation.

2. There is brilliant artistry here

It's staggering how ridiculously talented students and faculty are. With such a rich array of talents, it's hard to not get inspired. That imminent gnarly paper or unwieldy stack of books you have to get through is so much easier with a bit of inspiration.

3. Free!

Wow! There are many many many many free performances. It makes them that much better.

4. Take what you need

There's so much catharsis available in live performance. Whether you need to cry! guffaw! hiccup! stretch! or perhaps most importantly, snooze! there is certainly some type of live performance on campus that can give you a safe space to do so. I've entered recitals in so many different headspaces during my time here, and I always leave with something unique.

     Now, all that aside, junior and senior recitals are important and special and all, but the single most earth-shatteringly terrific part of these recitals has nothing to do with the music - it's actually all in the advertising. Recital posters! They clutter the con walls, plaster haphazardly to the lockers, occasionally work their way into unexpected nooks and crannies (the underside of toilet paper dispensers, in the middle of thick old volumes in the library) and they are stunning. It's a phenomenon so remarkable that it really is difficult to describe, so instead of me bumbling about it in words, here's a tour through a host of wonderful recital posters.

The Iconic "Vegetable Suit and Brass Instrument"
student wearing a carrot costume laying in the road holding a brass instrument
(Alex Melzer)

The Derivative "Vegetable Suit and Brass Instrument Negotiate Aquatic Terrain"
Student wearing carrot costume, playing a brass instrument in the arb pond
(Also Alex Melzer)

The Inimitable "I took a selfie w/ my unassuming teacher"
A student takes a selfie with a professor
(Wyeth Aleksei)

The Low-Key "Lounging Leonardo Cameo"
A student holds a brass instrument leaning against a wall. Leonardo dicaprio is cut into the picture
(Morgen Low)

The "Candid Moment"
A student playing the piano wearing a sailors hat. The background is a sailboat
(Elijah Fox-Peck)

The "Hype"
Students laying on the ground holding brass instruments
(Antonia Chandler)

The "Tender Reimagining of a Popular Painting"
A students face is cut into the face of a woman in a painting
(Antonia Chandler)

The "Ghostly French Horn Teacher and His Disciples Making Merry"
Students faces cut into the last supper
(The Supremely Talented Antonia Chandler)

I could clog the blogs with an endless stream of recital posters because they're just that good, but I'll refrain. (For some more fun, the Oberlin Conservatory Magazine did a feature on senior recital posters from the past year.) Recital posters are such a special part of conservatory culture here, and it's lovely to walk through halls overflowing with little reminders of your friends' creativity and achievement. Whether it's listening to recitals, or secretly curating a massive private vault of recital posters from yesteryear, I wholly recommend staying active in the recital scene as the semester gets busy. Decompress, process, and enjoy some marvelous sounds along the way.

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