Megan Miskill: Junior Recital Essay, Research Paper
April 13, 2000
Megan Miskill: Junior Recital
On April 4th, I made my way to the music building to see Megan Miskill perform her Junior Music recital. Her concert was shared with a violin player, Trevor Corneliusen, but for this paper, I will only discuss Megan?s performance. She sang three sets of pieces: Schubert, Faure and Mozart. Each set was contrasting, yet featured her lyric soprano voice beautifully. Nick Williams was her accompanist.
The first section of her concert was the Franz Schubert pieces. Schubert, a romantic composer, wrote pieces that focus mainly on nature, love, and unrequited passion. Megan sang Im Fruhling, Die Sterne, and Heimliches Leiben. Im Fruhling and Die Sterne both have a lighter tone color than Heimliches Leiben does. The texture of the first two pieces were lighter and had a sooth melody and softer dynamics. Although they both are melodically and harmonically complex, they still maintained a very positive, happy, feel. Both the first and the second of the Schubert pieces are very cyclical. The form of the first is ABABAA and the form of the second is AAAA. In the second, the melody is exactly the same except for a few accidental notes that were either flat of sharp. The third piece in the Schubert section, Heimliches Leiben, contrasts the first two pieces greatly. It is rhythemically different, starting slowly and then gradually speeding up. The dynamics get louder as the piece gets more passionate. There are bigger, more emotional chords and by the end, the pianist was pounding on the keys. In the second and third verses there is a climax because that is where the most passion is. It is as if the singer has reached a point of complete desperation. It was interesting to hear some more Schubert because we had just studied him in class. One can really get a sense of what romantic composers are like when one looks at the translated lyrics to Schubert’s songs. The titles, In Spring, The Stars, and Secret Love, all exemplify the types of things that romantic composers wrote about.
The next section of her performance was the Faure pieces. When I interviewed Megan about her concert she said that these are her favorite pieces because she speaks French and she thinks that they are the most beautiful. Faure is a romantic composer as well. Much like the Schubert, the first two pieces in the section, Le Pays des Reves, and Les Roses d?Ispahan, were much lighter and more lyrical compared with the third piece, Fleur Jetee, which is heavier and darker. Compared with Schubert, Faure is harmonically more complex. Faure uses crazier keys and the form is more complex. It is more fitting that Faure is more complex than Schubert is, because he was composing later in history.
The first and second Schubert pieces have a simple rhythm and tempo. There are some very high notes that Megan sang beautifully, however. The first piece shirted from 6/8 time to ? time and then back to 6/8 time again. The tone color of both of these was lighter and had a less complex texture. The harmony, however, seemed very complex. The third Faure piece was much darker. There was an element of insanity that seemed to be included in Faure?s composition. Her vocal dynamics got louder as the dynamics of the piano got louder. The rhythm was incessant and got increasingly faster. The piano got increasingly loud and by the end the pianist was pounding on the keys. The dynamics were loud and just kept getting louder. There was a major contrast between the first/second, and the third Faure piece.
The last section, the Batti Batti by Mozart, is in Aria form. It is from Don Giovanni?s opera. In this piece, Megan sang the part of Zerlia, in which a lover has to talk her way out of being caught cheating. There are long decrescendo-like runs in which Megan sang from a very high note to a very low note. Megan told me that this piece is practically written for a lyric soprano because it shows off the technical aspects of a lyric soprano?s voice. There were two different rhythm sections in this piece. It starts out slow, but then at the word ?pace? there is a shift to a happy, quick tempo. The music shifts when Zerlia has finally talked her way out of the predicament. This is a very beautiful piece which was fabulous to listen to because it is light and has a fun story.
All of the singing was beautiful, but my main critique is that it was not loud enough and that she did not have any facial expressions. She simply stood still and sang. I think the performance would have been increasingly interesting had she used more body language to convey the emotions in the songs. However, I was particularly impressed by the fact that she could sing in all those different languages. When I asked her, she said that all freshman music majors are required to take a diction class in order to learn to read and pronounce the different languages that they sing.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to interview Megan Miskill. I asked her several questions about the music, but also about her personal history with music. When I asked her why she chose the pieces she did, she said that they are all lighter pieces which are in her range. They all focus on technique and range, rather than volume. When I asked her what the hardest piece for her was, she said that it was the Die Sterne because it was so repetitive and very wordy. She said that she felt like the melody was never ending, which made it more difficult for her to focus. When I asked what the hardest part of putting on a concert was, she answered by saying that dealing with the concert hall managers was very difficult.
Megan has been singing since she was five years old. She started in the church choir and then began to sing with the Anchorage Opera. She said that voice is not what she wants to do as a career, but rather as a hobby. She said that there are too many nasty politics in the music world that she does not want to have to deal with. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to not only hear, but also interview such an accomplished vocalist.