| Students showcase skill, talent at recitals
Several Berea College students had their recitals this spring. In interviews with BC-Now! writers, these students talked of the musical and personal growth they have experienced in Berea.
Treshani Perera gave her final performance in Presser Music Hall for her senior piano recital. Treshani, from Sri Lanka, is a double-major in Psychology and Music with a focus in Piano.
Treshani’s recital included works from Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy which, according to music professor Stephen Bolster, was a “very advanced and difficult arrangement.” He also said that Treshani is a “very talented student and is dedicated to her piano. And she is a credit to the music program and what we do here.”
After her recital, Treshani was greeted by her friends and teachers applauding her performance at the reception. Among her colleagues was junior Music major Madalyn Mentor who praised Treshani as a person and a pianist. “She is one of the most dedicated people in this building,” she said referring to Presser Hall that houses the Music Department.
Treshani’s favorite piece was the Beethoven sonata. It was also the most difficult. Treshani mentioned she has been diligently memorizing it since last summer, delaying work on the other pieces until this past semester. She said about the sonata, “My teacher wasn't sure if I could do it because it's a really demanding piece, but I really wanted to learn it and perform it at my recital.”
Treshani expressed her thankfulness for her piano professor, Robert Lewis. “I grew so much as a pianist with him. I didn't have serious piano lessons until I came to college, so these four years with him have been a great experience.”
Another person who has given her the strength to achieve her goals is her grandmother. “From the very beginning she was very supportive of me coming to the U.S. to do a degree in music, and her encouragement has been tremendous over the years.”
When she gets ready to perform, Treshani says she runs through the music over and over again inside her head to hear how it will sound as she plays it. She also thinks about the composer’s process of creating the music to understand the flow of the piece as she plays it.
“It makes me convey the emotions in the piece effectively. Plus, I get a chance to get more into the music when I'm in it.”
David Collins presented the audience with an evening of range and variety as he showcased his diverse talent, performing at his senior voice recital.
As many of his peers and family members gathered in Gray Auditorium to support David in his final performance at Berea College, he gave them something to remember.
Accompanied by pianist Ryan Shirar, David exemplified his musical breadth, showcasing dramatic quality of vocal performance and theatrical presentation. David gave his listeners a taste of Italian, American, English and German music from composers such as Giacomo Puccini, Samuel Barber, and Robert Schumann, to name a few.
Standing upon stage with the most poise, David continued to take his audience through a journey of assortment and excitement as he did two duets with Music major and girlfriend JoAnna Moses during his selection of "The Phantom of the Opera" composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and "The Last Five Years" by Jason Robert Brown.
A native of Greenhills, Ohio, David is a vocal music major who serves as an assistant to voice teacher Dr. Stephen Bolster. Dr. Bolster speaks highly of Collins and shares that Collins finished first place in Kentucky for male college/university singers in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competitions both his sophomore and junior years. Bolster considers Collins one of the strongest, most advanced tenors Berea has ever had.
“He has been a pleasure to teach — bright and well-prepared,” Bolster expresses. “I am gratified to witness the growth of his vocal, musical and expressive abilities during his time at Berea College.”
After graduation Collins will take a year off, waiting for fiancée JoAnna Moses, ’11, to graduate. Afterward he plans to attend graduate school for music at the University of Kentucky, where he will work on his master’s and doctorate degrees in choral conducting and performance.
A crowd of eager students lined the basement floor of Presser Hall as they waited for senior Music major Justin Cornelison to appear after his final recital. As he made his entrance down the stairs, he was welcomed with spirited cheers and a roaring applause by the friends and family who came to congratulate Justin on a job well done.
Although Justin was able to play drums with the Afro-Latin Percussion and Fusion ensembles throughout his time at Berea College, he learned most of his technical musicianship within three semesters with the guidance of his classmates and instructor, Tripp Bratton.
Cornelison shared, “Being a part of the program here, I’ve benefitted a lot, just because of the fellow members. Jacob Hamrick – honestly if he hadn’t have been here before me and with me at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have progressed as much as I have," he spoke of a fellow Music major.
"He helped guide me along with practice and focus, along with Tripp. Without them there really wouldn’t be a percussion program.”
Hamrick was impressed by how Justin was able to learn to read music in such a short time, sharing, “Justin’s grown a whole lot in his performance, gestures, dynamics, control, ability to read music, improvise. He’s become a very well-rounded player and really expanded. He did a couple of his own pieces. I was very impressed. He’s going to go great places.”
Justin’s compositions included “Blue Light Radio Special,” in which he used an old transistor radio and array of percussion instruments to create eerie sound effects.
After the reception, Justin reflected on the encouragement shown by his friends and family.
“Tonight made me feel a lot of love that I didn’t realize was here. It made me realize that a lot of people really love me.”
On Saturday May 8, tenor and junior Music Education major Charlie “C.J.” Dickerson stood before a room of music lovers poised and ready to sing. Junior Erik King joined him on the piano. Staff accompanist Ryan Shirar brought the show together.
C.J. ’s voice ranged from a reverent high note to a low one just as holy. He had a special way of controlling the spirit of his audience with his reverberant vocalizations. His confidence in front of a crowd showed that he was practiced.
C.J. shone with all his musical brilliance when he sang the arrangement by Harry Burleigh, “Ev’ry Time I Feel Da Spririt.”
Although he sang in his church choir, C.J. had not received formal voice training until he came to Berea College. “I started taking voice lessons my sophomore year and have continuously grown with Dr. Bolster as my teacher."
“I have grown within this college through knowledge, spiritual clearness, and self awareness,” he continued.
“I came in loud-speaking about everything and not knowing truly anything. One teacher said, ‘An empty wagon making a lot of noise.’ However, being here I have learned how to speak with more clarity in my conversation....”
Erik King is a junior Music major with a focus in piano. King was born in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, but moved to Louisville, Ky. at the age of two. King began his music training at the age of six when he started taking piano lessons. When he enrolled in Berea College, he knew he wanted to pursue music and immediately began taking music courses, including more piano lessons from music professor Robert Lewis. King also works as a full-time accompanist for voice students as well as fulfilling a part-time position in the Music Department office.
On May 8, his music instruction reached a milestone in his undergraduate study when he performed for his junior recital. He played three songs by Enrique Granados (“Playera,” “Orientale,” and “Rondalla Aragonesa”) and a piece by Debussy ("The Girl with the Flaxen Hair"). The last piece was by Ernesto Lecuona, titled “Malaguena.”
“Academically, I can be an extreme perfectionist, which I believe this to be the reason God gave me a passion for music, because, as Robert Porco said, ‘Music is elusive. You can practice for hours and still have something to work on.’”
King plans to continue his education by attending graduate school at the University of Texas. After receiving his master's, King plans to pursue a career in piano performance and eventually becoming a college professor.