Student Recital: Emma Jones

On Saturday, Feb. 23, senior soprano vocalist Emma Jones performed several works by artists of various nationalities in the Memorial Chapel. Audience members roared with applause and adoration after each work, Jones radiating in her joy of vocal performance. 

Her first two songs were in Baroque Italian, accompanied by Jackson Peters on guitar. There is something special about the Italian language, specifically its wide range of dialects and abundance of vowel sounds not traditionally utilized in the English language. When mixed with the language of music, Jones’ voice flowed from one moment to the next, creating a poetic, emulating tune. Jones described this collaborative piece as one of her favorite moments on the road to her recital performance, feeling “vulnerable, but good” in her final performance. She stated how these songs remind her of how “music lends itself well to expressing emotion,” tying that feeling to the positive feedback she received post-performance. 

Following this, accompanied by Ben Keating on piano, came three French songs by “three different composers, each with their own distinct style.” The stark contrast of the pieces not only from those of other languages, but with each other, created a fascinating dynamic in the concert’s structure. The second of the French selections had much more emphasis on the sharp rhythm and beats, while some of the others focused, like the Italian pieces, on more of a flow from one note to the next. Jones revealed her history with these French songs, having performed them in her hometown for a past recital. She shared how “French is probably the language I feel most comfortable with,” having taken many French classes at both the high school and collegiate level.  

Jones proceeded to perform both a “delicate” Portuguese set and a “flashy German opera” set, once again showing the different dynamics of the languages. While there are many challenges performance presents, Jones revealed how she really needed to learn to trust herself while performing particularly high notes in the German pieces, emphasizing how “singing is a mental game,” one where one needs to be both brave and confident in one’s abilities. The recital closed with a song from the Broadway hit Waitress, titled “You Matter to Me,” after which Jones thanked her parents, friends, audience, professors and Joe Dennis for operating the super titles and singing the last song with her. 

In our interview exchange after the performance, Jones shared more about why she chose the pieces she did and what she hoped her audience would get from her performance. One of her requirements was to use multiple languages, so she used both her knowledge and those of her peers and faculty to put it all together. “I really love languages,” said Jones, with a special appreciation of the “collaborative aspect” that a multilingual performance brings.  

Jones knows that each audience member takes away something different from her chosen medium. Some may know the technical aspects, some may speak one or all of the languages chosen, while others may have very little knowledge about music or language in general. Despite that, Jones hopes that all who were in attendance or who reviewed her performance through the livestream “felt the joy that I felt being up there.” Jones has been encouraged by the “very heartwarming feedback” and is looking forward to future performances.