I entered to drying coats, I left to drying eyes
After Danielle Richard and Jessica MacLean closed out the Bachelor of Education music recital with “Musical Theatre Boys,” I left and dug for a cigarette - whatever’d calm my nerves. I understand speed-walking out of St. James United Church a little after 8pm while fumbling with a lighter isn’t a good look. So, I decided against it. But after an hour straight with my hairs standing up, I needed a comedown.
The setting made sense. A cold and wet November 3, we huddled in the pews to keep us warm. Bunches of Education students mixed with family and friends. A few sniffles, mumbled chatter, jackets unzipping, awkward half-smiles to strangers.
“When’s it going to start? Isn’t it at 7?”
They appeared almost on cue, single file and well-dressed. Silence, a single sniff. Joseph Goodwin stood while the other three took their seats in the front row. Pianist sits, everyone’s silent. A stifled cough, “Oh jeez, I’m so sorry.” Silence again. Goodwin began.
Goodwin opened with Handel’s “Lascia ch’io pianga.” I’ve run out of adjectives for his baritone or the control he has over it. Jaw-dropping’s cliche, but accurate. And I sat full mouth mouth-breathing, everything about his work with the National Youth Choir of Canada and garnered acclaim made sense. As he hits notes beyond us, we just sit breathless.
Second, Lauren Siteman. Her frankness refreshes us. Siteman introduces her first piece simply, “It’s a love song.” Siteman’s talent too, is direct. Every note hit perfectly, every dynamic switched on a dime. I need to address something. Siteman, whether she knows it or not, sings honestly. I’m not sure how to describe it yet, but everything she sings I believe. It was a love song. Because for three minutes I somehow knew who and how she loved.
Third, Danielle Richard. In her second year of education, this was her first performance. Her voice control was absolutely terrifying. Goodwin and Siteman had each of us nodding, smiling, and gasping, but Richard had us looking around at one another with an awed, “Are you seeing this?” sort of face.
Nothing surprises me about her background in musical theatre. The way she carries herself on a stage speaks for itself. I should note here as well that Danielle’s performance of “I’ll Be Here” brought a few people to tears. But not me though… absolutely not… not a chance. We’d always been told Danielle is incredible, then we heard her for ourselves and know it to be true.
Fourth, Jessica MacLean. Her stage presence is an extension of herself. Most of us cling onto some drab sense of self importance. Jess tosses all that trash out. She moves around the stage with intent one second, vulnerability the next. Whatever the piece calls for, she clicks into her performative nature and disappears.
MacLean only returns after she’s sung the last lines of “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” once the applause begins, there she is. How she stays so expressive and fluid while hitting even the hardest notes perfectly, I’ll never understand.
A fifth member of the Education Recital, Stacia Findlay, was slated to perform but unfortunately pulled out due to an illness. Rumours are she’s an internationally renowned monster in her own right. I’m looking forward to her performance.
Another recital is in the works. Go see it. Whether it’s an email or poster, plan around the date you read. I entered to drying coats, I left to drying eyes.