Above: Myles Jones during his performance at the event.
This year’s Senior Solo Recital concert drew warm applause from an appreciative audience, as the musical talents of dozens of East Lansing High School graduating seniors were featured at the auditorium on April 20.
Many of the senior soloists were backed by fellow students from all four grades playing strings, winds, and percussion in the orchestra, conducted mostly by ELHS teacher Dave Rosin but also for some by Dave Larzelere. The amount of music the back-up players had to learn in the last few weeks was significant, and so they took on extra rehearsals while many of them also juggled series of standardized tests, including the SAT for the juniors. Most of the voice performances were accompanied on piano by ELHS teacher Jeff English.
The event began with an orchestra performance of an original composition by ELHS student Konrad Rauscher, who played violin. Rauscher also plays piano, clarinet, bassoon, flute, and viola The lively piece, entitled Allegro for Strings, was written by Rauscher for string orchestra and encompassed many changes of musical moods. In eighth grade, Rauscher composed Carnaval, which was performed by the MacDonald Middle School band. He plans to continue as a musician in college.
Cameron Simmons then performed It’s Over, Isn’t It by Rebecca Sugar. Her mature voice conveyed much feeling as she soloed accompanied by piano. Simmons is also a visual artist and is enrolled in the Kendall Dual Enrollment Program. Simmons is also active in French Club, Writing Club, Key club, Anime Club, Students for Gender Equality, and Arabic Club. She is, as well, an award-winning varsity tennis player.
With the curtain pulling back to return to the full orchestra, Anthony Petroff performed Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin, opus 3, number 6. He captured Vivaldi’s construction of this piece as a sort of violin-orchestra duet Petroff has played on the football team for six years, winning the Football Trojan Award, and has participated in the Christian Student Union and studied the martial art Yoshokai Akido.
Myles Jones (top photo) sang Linda Abar’s Grace, lifting his eyes as he performed the melodic work. Jones has been singing since the age of three, and is familiar to those who attend ELHS performing arts events, as he has been a featured singer as well as a lead in theatre. Jones has been singing since age three and has performed with EL Singers, the MSU Children’s Choir, and the East Lansing Gospel Choir.
Rishav Choudhury (above) took on Bruch’s technically challenging Violin Concerto, opus 26, providing a confident and moving performance on violin. Choudhury has been playing violin since age seven, and has been in All State Orchestra. He also played soccer in high school for all four years and has been a member of the Science Olympiad team.
The single oboe solo was provided by Silas Brainard. Brainard performed Haydn’s Concerto for Oboe, with the orchestra conducted by Larzelere. His instrument sang out above the orchestra, and he made the oboe look easy, something that isn’t easy to do. Brainard spent his sophomore year living in Kathmandu, Nepal, with his family. (They were there during the earthquake.) He has played tennis for four years and is in Arabic Club and Spanish Club, along with working on the school newspaper, Portrait.
Cherished Kirkland (above) provided a passionate rendition of Whitney Houston’s One Moment in Time, with soaring voice in the closing. Kirkland has participated in EL Singers, Theatre, and Orchestra in ELHS, and has been involved in many clubs, including Girl Code, EL Dance Team, and MSAN (the minority student achievement network). She was nominated for and won a spot in the 2016 Homecoming Court.
Oliva Jones performed Borowski’s Adoration on violin in an alternatively soulful and lively delivery. She has been very active in the string groups in the high school and also in the Mid-Michigan Youth Symphony. Jones has also participated in Students for Gender Equality and tennis (JV and varsity).
Samantha White performed Howland and Dickstein’s Astonishing, from the musical Little Women. Her delivery was upbeat and theatrical, perhaps not surprisingly given her participation in theatre. She played the lead of Sarah Brown in this year’s high school musical, Guys and Dolls. In her junior year, White founded the Students for Females in STEM club, which is dedicated to bridging the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math. She has also pushed the cause at the state and national levels.
Katie Miller-Purrenhage (above) performed on flute, accompanied on piano by Kate Prouty. The piece they played together, Duvernay’s Concertino, features calls of the piano to the flute with melodic responses. Miller-Purrenhage has also participated in the high school’s plays and musicals and she plans to minor in music in college.
Cursell’s Progressive Clarinet Duet No. 3 was performed by Sam Liao and Cade Dembski. The complex piece brought out the full range of the clarinet’s voice. Both Liao and Dembski have been very active in the music program in the East Lansing public schools, and both plan to continue as musicians in college. In the program, Liao thanked Dembski “for being such a great musician and an awesome friend.”
Julia Wiles soloed on violin for Bach’s Concerto No. 1, backed by the orchestra. She managed the piece expertly, bringing a full range of expression. In addition to playing in the Chamber Orchestra, Symphonic Orchestra, Pit Orchestra, and Encore Strings at the high school, Wiles has performed with the Mid-Michigan Youth Symphony. She is planning to major in Music Therapy in college.
In a second selection from Bruch for the evening, Taylor Murray (above) performed the viola solo of Romanze, opus 85. She brought forth the emotive vocal strength of the viola, an instrument she took up as “her true calling” after first trying the violin. Murray has performed with the All State Orchestra and has also been the principal violist of the Mason Philharmonic and the Mid-Michigan Youth Symphony. She is considering an eventual run for the U.S. Senate.
Kaleel Van Voorhees decided not to choose between voice and cello for this performance, combining the two in a solo performance of Lennon and McCartney’s Blackbird, arranged for Van Voorhees by her teacher. Van Voorhees has also been active in ELHS theatre and musical theatre, including in lead roles. She plans to pursue the performing arts.
Massenet’s Meditation from Thais was performed on violin by Joan Sirigiri in a heartfelt delivery that evoked an aria. Sirigiri has been an athlete in lacrosse and cross country while also maintaining status as a distinguished scholar, and has participated in many student organizations, including Students Against Destructive Decisions, the Minority Student Association Network, and the National Honor Society.
Kelley Sweitzer (above) took on Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E-Minor, opus 64, masterfully delivering a full range of expression from her violin. She has also played with the Mason Philharmonic, the Mid-Michigan Youth Symphony, and the All State Orchestra. She has also been a member of the varsity swim team and has played water polo for four years. She writes for Portrait and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Elgar’s Salut D’Amour was performed on violin by Lian Li in a confident performance that was well supported by the orchestra. Li has been active in the music program at the high school and has attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for six years. She says in her program bio that she is “Passionate about being a role model for younger children.”
Anna Kidder sang My Man by Jule Styne, adopting a fitting dramatic style for the piece and delivering a strong performance, particularly at the finish. She has sung with EL Singers and plans to continue her education at North Central University where she expects to pursue full time ministry as a Music Pastor and Worship Leader.
The event concluded with Sam Maves (above) performing Kabelevsky’s Concerto for Violin, opus 48. Maves provided a mature and elegant delivery of the piece, having been dedicated to his instrument for over a decade. Maves also plays piano and has performed with East Lansing High School’s Chamber and Symphonic Orchestras, Encore Strings, Pit Orchestra, and the Mid-Michigan Youth Symphony.
Earlier in the evening, as a group, the orchestra seniors performed Sartori Con Te Partiro, as arranged by Ricketts. The piece gave a glimpse into the kind of long-term teaching Rosin has done with the strings, often pushing past standard classical orchestra works to inventive arrangements for strings.