Senior Voice Recital


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Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Rhea Olivacce

Second Advisor

Greg Jasperse

Third Advisor

Dee Gauthier


Brianna Van Houten, soprano, presented her honors thesis senior voice recital on Saturday, November 17th, 2018 at 5pm. The performance took place at the First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo. This recital was put on in collaboration with pianists Tim Giessner and Ryan Block and cellist Maura Phelps. Music performed included works by Richard Strauss, George Frideric Handel, Aaron Copeland, Eric Whitacre, and Cole Porter among others. This abstract will provide a brief analysis of the scores, text, and musical characteristics of select pieces from the program.

The recital opened with a piece by Jules Massenet titled “Élegie” fomr pieces de Genre, Op. 10 no. 5. Massenet was a French Romantic composer who is best known for his operas, of which he composed many.[1] “Élegie” was Massenet’s most popular melody composed during the last decades of the nineteenth century. He originally wrote this piece in 1866 for a piano cycle title Piéces de Genre, Op. 10 no. 5. In 1872, he incorporated the piece into Les Erinnyes (The Furies), a play by Leconte de Lisle. The sorrowful melody was arranged for muted cello and became a solo piece. Eventually it was adapted to the lyrics ‘O doux printemps d’autrefois’ by Lousi Gallet that we hear today.

Richard Strauss was a German composer during the late Romantic and early Modern eras.[2] Today he is best known for his operas, piano sonatas, orchestral works, tone poems, and lieder. Strauss was a leader in the transition of compositional styles where composers combined subtleties of orchestration with advanced harmonic style. Strauss often worked with poet Hermann von Gilm which is showcased in his pieces “Allerseelen” and “Die Nacht”. The text comes from Gilm’s collection Letzte Blätter (Last Pages). Strauss put together a collection of eight songs that were all settings of Gilm’s poems entitled Acht Lieder aus Letzte Blätter (Eight Songs from Last Pages).

Closing out the first act is an Italian aria by George Frederic Handel titled “Tornami a vagheggiar.” The aria comes from the opera seria Alcina produced in 1726.[3] Handel took the libretto from another opera titled L’isola di Alcina orginially set in 1728 and written by Riccardo Broschi. The storyline was slightly altered from Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso – an epic poem.

The second half of the recital contains some more modern pieces outside of the classical genre. American composer and songwriter Cole Porter was always drawn to musical theater and found success writing for Broadway shows during the 1930s[4]. Unlike many other successful Broadway composers at the time, Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for all of his songs. Porter’s first song on Broadway premiered in 1915 and his success grew rapidly after that. He has composed such shows as Fifty Million Frenchmem, See America First and Kiss Me, Kate which won the first Tony award for Best Musical. Two of his hits were featured in the program title “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “It’s Alright with Me”. The songs truly embrace the jazz genre with open formats that allow for improvisation by the pianist and the singer. News - Royal Opera House-Jules Massenet- Royal Opera House

[1] News - Royal Opera House-Jules Massenet-Royal Opera House

[2] Kennedy, Michael. Richard Strauss / Michael Kennedy. 1st American ed. Master Musicians Series. Schirmer Books, 1996.

[3] Aria Database - Home

[4] Markel, Howard. "Cole Porter's Eventful Nights and Days." JAMA 305, no. 3 (2011): 310-11.

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Honors Thesis-Restricted

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