Senior recitals are always a joyous – if bittersweet – occasion at Transylvania, and
Candidate for graduation Caleb Ritchie gave his senior recital last Sunday at 3 p.m. in Carrick Theatre.
I’ve seen quite a few of them while here. As enjoyable as those previous concerts have been, they were all topped last Sunday at 3 p.m. in Carrick Theater, when candidate for graduation Caleb Ritchie performed his final concert as a member of Transylvania’s campus.
You may remember seeing Ritchie in any number of campus ensembles, or recall that he won Transy’s Concerto-Aria competition in his sophomore year. Perhaps you live under a rock and only recognize his name from the Schroeder-esque fliers advertising his concert with catchy and incredibly relevant appeals like “Have you eaten granola in the last forty-eight days?” or “Are you interested in gender encoding in religious texts? Then come to Caleb Ritchie’s Senior Recital.” Regardless of where you’ve encountered him, you almost definitely recognize Ritchie as a colorful personality and prodigious musician, and this was evident nowhere as much as in his performance on Sunday.
The post-recital consensus seems to indicate that attendees were elated by their experience as much as non-attendees were sick over missing this opportunity.
“It was a good mix of genres. Never got boring, because each new piece was not only as spectacular as the previous one, but interestingly different, letting the recital as a whole feel dynamic instead of stifled. There was clear artistry in the planning as well as the playing,” candidate for graduation and fellow attendee Melinda Borie eloquently described.
On the flip side, candidate for graduation and non-attendee, Danny Woolums, laments missing the experience with an emphatic “I wish I had been there!”
Though engendered by such different experiences, both of these perspectives are quite valid. If you missed it, grieve your loss with wailing and gnashing of teeth. If you were present, rest easy knowing that you have probably enjoyed the best two hours of free entertainment ever.
The success of Ritchie’s recital came from factors even beyond pre-performance strategy and skilled musicianship: he performs just as well when speaking as when playing or singing. His jokes created a more casual atmosphere than I have seen at other recitals, and his useful analogies made the concert material accessible regardless of musical knowledge. I have never before heard so much laughter or seen such an engaged audience at a recital.
Regarding the repertoire, Ritchie began the concert with a couple of his own compositions. Having not looked over the program carefully, I first assumed his opening song, “Prelude in E Major”, was composed by one of the greats in the current musical cannon. Perhaps not yet, but we’ll see what happens in the next few decades. His second number, “Duet for Clarinet and Piano” featuring rising junior Diana Gooding, proved that he can write just as beautifully for multiple instruments. The following sonata movements by Beethoven and Scriabin were beautifully performed, and Ritchie’s explanation of his choice of movements and their emotional connections greatly enhanced the listening experience.
After intermission, the concert was relocated to Coleman Recital Hall, where the electronic portion of the concert – Ritchie is a double major in Piano and Music Technology – took place. This half of the concert primarily featured pre-recorded works, but was kept interesting with great explanations and stories, as well as video and slide shows.
For the encore, Ritchie played his own composition, “Let’s Not Say Goodbye”, after informing the audience that he had finished writing the lyrics a whole four hours before performing them. This piece addresses the difficulties of keeping in touch after graduation, and was clearly meant to be a tear jerker for his fellow senior classmates. I sat through it stoically at the time, but as it was stuck in my head all the next day, I’m beginning to wonder if its catchiness was intended to wear down those who refused to cry during its initial performance.
What’s left to say? This was a remarkable recital. If you missed it, be sad; not only was it a great experience, but it may have been your last chance to watch this amazing musician perform for free.