Thursday, May 30, 2013

Choosing a Recital Program

By Tammy Evans Yonce

THE FALLING CINDERS OF TIME was composed especially for my dear friend, Heidi Alvarez, and completed in the Spring of 2011. The structure of the work is episodic in nature with a recurring motive of a minor third uniting the different melodic ideas. The work is also somewhat of an elegy for my mother who passed away during its creation. The center section of the piece and its ending contain brief quotations of the gorgeous melody from the middle of Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” which was one of my mother’s favorite compositions. The title is drawn from this brief bit of my poetry:
Nights float on streams of silver.
We watch the falling cinders of time
As the last glint of watchfulness fades.
--Michael Kallstrom

Tammy Evans Yonce
When choosing a recital program, I try to make sure it is balanced and includes a lot of variety. I chose to perform The Falling Cinders of Time first on this recital for several reasons. I’m very comfortable with it and enjoy performing it, so I knew it would put me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the performance. Audiences also enjoy it, and its relatively short length is a good way to start a performance. The rest of the program included several different types of pieces. While I primarily focus on new music at this point, I am aware of my audience. Some audiences are tolerant of new works, and others would prefer to hear the standard repertoire that is more familiar to their ears. My most recent recital included a Bach sonata, a work by Gaubert, and a lot of new music. Among the new works, I still try to include considerable variety. The Falling Cinders of Time is a solo work; two others included digital audio, one was for flute and clarinet, and another was for alto flute and piano.

When I help my students choose recital repertoire, I guide them towards a varied program that represents the different stylistic eras. I want them to choose music they feel a connection to, but it is also my responsibility to make sure they know the essential standard repertoire that classically-trained flutists should know. I also think it is important that they include new music on their recital programs. I encourage them to seek out new pieces, listen to recordings, and work with composers to learn about new repertoire possibilities. Since collaboration is such a crucial element to music making, I also encourage them to form chamber groups and include those works on their recital. This helps students learn repertoire as well as essential rehearsal skills.  

Besides including works from various stylistic eras and different instrumental combinations, I also think it’s important to include works of varying difficulty. Obviously students should stretch themselves to continue developing higher levels of technique, tone, and musicality, but it can be daunting to play an entire program of intensely difficult music. By including difficult works that really push a student’s limits as well as an occasional “easier” piece, it allows the student a bit of relaxation and creates a more manageable pace.

After the rehearsing has been done and the student gets closer to the recital date, it is important that he or she begins to run through the entire program to get a feel for what it will actually be like during the recital. Rehearsing the actual performance is just as important as the practice that happens leading up to the big day.

By choosing a program that includes works from contrasting stylistic eras and for different instrumental combinations as well as various levels of difficulty, students will have a program that is challenging yet manageable and will provide their audiences with a musical experience they are sure to enjoy.  

Follow Tammy Evans Yonce on the web:
Learn more about Dr. Yonce's work at her personal website, or on Twitter @TammyEvansYonce.

Find her recording of Falling Cinders of Time:

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