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Music to My Ears: UMaine Recital Lab

By Aya Mares
English major/Honors College
Orono, Maine

After a day of bustling around campus between classes and among newly fallen leaves, I found myself seated in Minsky Hall, watching my first recital lab. As an English major, I had never heard of a recital lab before. I had no idea that the music majors at the University of Maine, and most universities, are required to perform solo in front of fellow students and music professors once every semester.

“So this isn’t just a requirement for music majors with a concentration in performance?” I asked Beth Wiemann, chair of UMaine’s Music Department.

“No, as I tell the Music Ed majors, you can’t tell your students to perform solo if you haven’t done it yourself,” she answered.

At the recital lab I attended, six students performed. The music ranged from Chopin to Bizet’s Carmen. The instruments played included, a tuba, a flute, an alto-saxophone and a piano, along with two mezzo-soprano vocalists. It was lovely to hear the range of music and I was pleased to have discovered this opportunity to hear live music on campus.

After the recital, I hopped on my bicycle and started my ride home when I spotted Colin Wood, a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering major with a minor in Music. He is a classical pianist and had just performed at the recital lab.

He was still wearing his suit.

I decided to join him in his walk so I could ask him about the lab.  He told me that he has now performed solo in about seven recital labs. I asked him if he was nervous at his first solo performance — I imagined that anyone would be — but he answered no. He had performed solo at various music competitions in Seattle before he moved to Maine.

I also asked him about his chosen piece, Chopin’s Polonaise Op 40 #2 and he told me he had been practicing it for a year. It showed in his performance. He performed the piece gracefully and without sheet music.

Next Monday, I will be at the recital lab again, after a busy day, settling into my seat as I enjoy another round of musicians perform their work



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The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469