Student recital: Emma Nolte, soprano and piano

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, Emma Nolte gave her senior recital in Memorial Chapel. A candidate for the Bachelor of Music in music education, Nolte has studied vocal performance under Estelí Gomez and piano performance under Anthony Padilla. 

Her recital consisted of 12 pieces, some of which were self-accompanied and others which were accompanied by pianist Sarah Wheeler. In addition to her vocal performance, Nolte performed three pieces on piano. Her final piece included a vocal quartet, made up of Lawrence students juniors Owen Popelka, Matthew Carlson and Curtis Anderson and Isaac Epley, in addition to herself and Wheeler. 

Nolte’s performance, lasting about one hour with no intermission, was full of elegance and soul. Instead of taking the Memorial Chapel by storm, she performed in a way that reminded me of a gentle rainfall. Each piece had an element of grace while also differentiating itself from the one before. 

I was particularly struck by her two lullabies, which she sang while playing the piano. The song “Goodnight Moon” by Eric Whitacre was especially lovely. It reminded me of my own childhood, dozing off listening to my mother’s voice. Nolte’s voice soared in this piece, as she expertly navigated the lilting aspect of a child’s lullaby. 

Another piece that resonated with me was the song “No One Else” from the musical “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” by Dave Malloy. A light song about a hard situation, Nolte performed this piece excellently. She brought heart and vocal technique together, captivating the audience with her voice. 

Sitting in the back of the Memorial Chapel, I had a clear view of the audience in front of me. There were so many people in attendance, all of whom looked excited to be there. In addition to people from Nolte’s family and community, there were many familiar faces from Lawrence supporting her.

There were also many children in the audience. Given Nolte’s future career as a music educator, it felt fitting that this was the case. It also made sense that her diverse repertoire was suited for both a mature audience and a young one. 

Throughout her performance, Nolte shared a wide range of repertoire, including opera, musical theater and lullabies. She also sang pieces in at least three languages other than English and demonstrated impressive skill in playing the piano. 

Towards the end of her recital, Nolte spoke about her journey as a student at Lawrence, as well as her role as a future music educator. In a heartfelt thank you, Nolte also paid homage to her faith and her family, as well as many other figures who supported her. It was clear, in both her performance and her speaking, that her time at Lawrence has been meaningful. 

If you are interested in attending future recitals at Lawrence, I highly recommend doing so. This was the first student recital that I saw in person, and it was a beautiful and moving experience — a lovely way to end the first week of spring term!