Voice students, faculty join forces for recital

Grace Canfield was blown away when a Chautauquan approached her in March after a performance at Alice Tully Hall in New York City.

“They said, ‘I remember your performance in Chautauqua,’ ” Canfield said. “And I thought to myself, ‘This is why I’m doing this.’ ”

Canfield has returned to Chautauqua Institution for her third year in the Voice Program as a soprano, and along with seven other students — each paired with a vocal coach — she will participate in a voice recital at 4 p.m. Sunday in McKnight Hall. The event benefits the Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship Fund, and there is a $5 suggested fee.

Canfield, with vocal coach Benedicte Jourdois, will be performing four selections: “Laudamus te” from Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor; “An die Nacht” and “Kornblumen” by Richard Strauss; and “Open My Eyes to Beauty” by Gustav Klemm.

Her mix of pieces isn’t reflective of anything other than music she enjoys, she said.

“There’s no real theme to it,” said Canfield, a rising senior at the Juilliard School of Music. “It’s just music that I like that I hope other people will like, too.”

Joseph Schuster, a newcomer to the Voice Program as a tenor, will also be performing in Sunday’s recital with coach Donna Gill. A recent graduate from Northwestern University, he will be singing Samuel Barber’s “Hermit Songs,” the lyrics of which were written by Irish monks and later translated into song.

“The cycle is very multi-faceted and gives funny, somber and interesting looks into the lives of these monks,” Schuster said. “You should particularly look forward to ‘Promiscuity’ and ‘The Heavenly Banquet’ — they’re two of the shortest songs in the cycle but also the most fun.”

The other student-coach duos in the recital are Jean-Philippe McClish and Morgan Middleton with Martin Dubé, Kathryn Henry and Caitlin Gotimer with Julius Abrahams, and Sage DeAgro-Ruopp and Guillaume Poudrier with Bénédicte Jourdois.

Schuster said his personal draw to the Voice Program came from chair Marlena Malas’ talent and reputation.

“I’ve heard about Marlena Malas’ program at Chautauqua ever since I got to college,” Schuster said. “The fresh perspectives the faculty of the Voice Program will definitely help me to keep moving forward and inspire me to work harder.”

For Canfield, it’s the people, the faculty and the community. The recitals are a small part of the Chautauquan experience, but it’s the connections that bring her back.

“Chautauqua just has a certain pull to it,” Canfield said. “Once you show up you never want to leave, and by the time they kick you out at the end of the summer, you’re already thinking about next year. It really is something.”