Piano department hosts first in-person recital of fall semester


Marian Cuevas

Third-year piano performance student Shawn Jerge performed for the piano department’s first in-person recital since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

by Marian Cuevas, Staff Writer

On Sunday, Nov. 21, the piano department of the School of Music and Dance hosted their first in-person solo piano recital since the pandemic began. The recital was also the headliner’s debut as a solo pianist. Shawn Jerge, a third-year piano performance major, performed works by J. S. Bach, Beethoven and Debussy in accordance with the repertoire requirements of the piano performance curriculum.

The recital was a more than fulfilling return to in-person piano performance. Particularly, Jerge’s Beethoven was full of expression and notoriously thought-out musical intent. The various shifts in character and tone contained in the “Les Adieux” sonata were carefully crafted, as were the shifts between these passions were well-carried out.

The performance of the third movement was particularly memorable for the attendees, including piano graduate student Nancy Coto. 

“The best subito forte that was ever played!” Coto said.

The above referenced moment captivated the audience. The soft, delicate melody that preceded the sudden change in dynamic was carefully shaped, all preparing the listener to be truly surprised by the subito forte. Some audience members were so moved by this subtlety, they jumped in their seats.

Jerge also achieved beautiful colors in Debussy’s “Reflets dans l’eau.” Characteristically challenging of performing works by impressionist composers, such as Debussy, is painting a picture with sound.

A compelling rendition of any impressionist work requires a high level of control from the performer. To make such a performance convincing, the sound quality of each note must be meticulously shaped.

Upon speaking with Jerge about the experience, he expressed how relieved he felt that this recital was over. It is now time for him to move on to the repertoire he will include in his senior recital, which he was already discussing with his studio teacher, Dr. Karen Follingstad, after the recital.

“I don’t really know what to say besides that it was amazing,” Eliza Vedar, a senior in the piano performance program, said. “Knowing [Jerge] as a person it just makes sense that he’d give a great performance.”

As expected from a debuting solo pianist, Jerge said he felt some performance anxiety. Once on stage, he was able to settle in and relax at the instrument, which allowed him to bring out his interpretation.

The recital, comfortably timed right before Thanksgiving break, was a strong start for the piano department’s in-person performances. The powerful performance given by Jerge sets the bar high for the piano recitals to follow, showing that the power of the piano department has only grown stronger in face of the pandemic’s adversity.