June 5, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 72°F

Life & Culture

Recital posters highlight the spirit of the performers

Ithaca College was originally founded as a conservatory of music in 1892. The School of Music, Theatre and Dance is still ranked among the top 10% in the nation for music programs. Students who are music majors or minors take classes in the James J. Whalen Center for Music and are required at some point in their college career to hold a recital.

Recitals are supportive and uplifting atmospheres not meant to critique. This is somewhat different from concerts, which are often done by paid professionals and a group of musicians, for an audience of supporters and critics alike. 

Many students in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance put a spin on strict concert culture, first through the use of recital posters and then through the themes of their recitals. Music students often make fun and artistic posters that highlight the interests of the students.

Junior Dexter Conlin has a vocal performance recital March 26 in Hockett Recital Hall. It is called “Picture of You” and will be a blend of musical theater, jazz, folk, audience connection and will include the accompaniment of a larger band. This is Conlin’s first recital, and for it he will be taking an unconventional approach by blending genres as well as talking with the audience between songs. 

“What inspired the poster design was the eclectic nature of how the show was going to be,” Conlin said. “I wanted to use a lot of different mediums to express the main vision behind the recital, which is how we’re all made up of different parts … given to us by other people.”  

Conlin said the theme of his recital is based on connection and how it influences people. Conlin’s poster shows this through a collage-type feel. 

“I don’t want it to just feel like a recital,” Conlin said. “I want it to feel like something a little more personal than that … sort of safe and homey. Which is why I decided to use a film photo for a nostalgic feel. … That’s why I see my recital leaning more toward a cabaret feel than a [traditional] recital feel.” 

Conlin added that this picture holds a lot of meaning for him. It was taken in Utah on a trip that he associates with people who shaped his identity. He even cross-stitched parts of the photo, the scarf and the hat, to add to the homey feel. 

“I want people to leave appreciating all the parts of who they are,” Conlin said. “And also seeing the people that surround them in that new light. I’d love for people to leave and maybe want to reach out to someone they haven’t talked to in a long time.” 

Junior Sarah Flynn, a trumpet performance major, showcased her March 3 recital with a cartoon animated poster of herself and a cat underwater in scuba suits. The title of this recital was called “The High Cs”. Flynn has an April Fools themed recital April 1 that is elective, meaning it is not required for her major. The art for her posters is all done by sophomore Dylan Krukowski, a music performance education major at the college. 

“The reason I chose an animated scene over a headshot is because I wanted something that fits me as a person, a little silly but still cute,” Flynn said. “I chose an ocean scene because I’ve always wanted, if I didn’t become a musician, to become a marine biologist. I was really into the ocean as a kid.” 

Flynn wanted a happy medium for her recital, not too professional but not too boring. For her recital, she played music that was solemn and reflective, bluesy and jazzy. She said she played an arrangement called “Oceanesque,” which fit in with the poster’s theme.

“I would say in Whalen it is a very professional vibe,” Flynn said. “That’s what they kind of push for; it definitely plays into the western classical thing where you have to be quiet during performances and only clap at certain times. I think the cool thing about being in college and having the leeway to do these kinds of creative things is that it’s a way of finding yourself through the music that you play. The recital poster is kind of like, ‘This is my recital in a nutshell condensed onto a piece of paper” 

Flynn said the content of her upcoming recital is currently a secret, but the poster will be her and her best friend, sophomore Yvonne Tucker, in clown suits, balancing on a ball and juggling. Flynn said the goal is ultimately to make people laugh and to play good music. 

Senior Aaron Suttle, a trombone performance major, has a senior recital titled “Iridescence” happening April 13 — part of his capstone project. The poster that he advertised is a self-portrait done in the style of fauvism, since colors are the main theme and the highlight of his recital. 

“I have synesthesia, which means I can basically see sound,” Suttle said. “So I really wanted to emphasize that by playing a piece that’s actually based on the synesthesia. It’s completely improv and is just, ‘Play this color.’ The main piece is called ‘Color,’ and it’s four movements each is a different color. … The synesthesia color will remain a secret until the performance itself.” 

This recital will kickstart the end of Suttle’s time at the college. Walking through Whalen, there is a range of hopes, dreams and aspirations hanging up on lockers in a labor of love for performance. 

“I just hope that, you know, this gets people excited,” Conlin said. “I hope that people will see the work we’ve put in and come experience it with us. There is such a beauty to recital culture, it feels like a sacred space. You put your soul on display.”

Noelle Cook can be reached at ncook@ithaca.edu