Oberlin Blogs

Reflections on my senior recital

March 23, 2024

Jonathan Lucke '25

On Saturday, March 16th, I finally completed one of my final requirements in the conservatory! After over a year in the making, I was finally able to piece together my senior recital. I feel an overwhelming sense of relief but also a curiosity as to what my next steps are. 

My program featured five different chamber groups, comprised of the entire percussion studio, two secondary percussionists, and a pianist. Having your friends play on a piece in your recital is common practice, but I decided to take it to the next level by having the entire studio on my recital. I am incredibly grateful to have the privilege of performing with such amazing and talented musicians. Putting together these groups took a lot of planning, but, as you can see in my interests, I LOVE Google Calendar, so this was pure bliss. 

One of my projects, in particular, playing Harrison Birtwistle’s The Axe Manual with one of my dearest colleagues, Immanuel Mykyta-Chomsky, was over a year in the making. We started the project in February 2023. It is one of the most challenging pieces I have ever learned, and as far as I am aware, it is the only undergraduate performance of the piece. My four other chamber groups featured bowing vibraphone, a technique that never ceases to amaze any unfamiliar listener.

Oberlin has a huge recital culture. Performance majors in the conservatory are required to give a Junior Recital and a Senior Recital, and it’s common for friends to go to each other’s recitals. Around 40-50 of my friends and professors attended my recital. This culture here makes me feel incredibly valued by my community, friends, colleagues, and teachers. I also received two bouquets of flowers from my friends :)

My program featured blisteringly pointalistic contemporary music juxtaposed with beautifully quiet, glistening bowed vibraphone. I got many comments from friends, with many conservatory friends saying they preferred the dissonant pieces in my program and my college friends saying they preferred the opposite. But, as my teacher Ross Karre so keenly put it, “The only difference between dissonance and consonance is familiarity.”

So, what are my next steps? As a dual-degree student, I will have a fifth year next year, and I’m frequently asked if I’ll give a fifth-year recital. The answer: I don’t know! We’ll see. I think I would ideally like to, but since it’s out of my degree requirements at that point, it may be more challenging to reserve the space to do so, considering people who need it to graduate will have priority on reserving and using those spaces. I definitely plan on applying to grad school next year, so I may end up giving a recital featuring entirely pieces I’ll be applying to grad school with :)

Similar Blog Entries