This semester, nine graduating seniors are showcasing their talents by presenting music and theatre recitals as their senior capstone projects at Southern Virginia University.
The recitals feature students’ best work in a range of disciplines including music composition, vocal performance and acting.
“I don’t know that other students, faculty or administrators always realize how pivotal this moment is for music [and theatre] majors,” said Delaney Taylor, a music major whose senior recital will take place today. “It usually recognizes eight or more semesters of study, training, exhaustion, and grueling rehearsal hours.”
According to Taylor, the hard work is worth the effort.
“We’re entertainers and we want to entertain,” she said.
Taylor is the first music major to choose to record her music professionally and deliver a recital lecture as her project. She said that one of the most rewarding aspects of the project has been her realization that she can “lead a project of this scope.” She credited her professors, particularly Mark Milberger, with providing her with the support that she needed to complete the project.
“I wouldn’t be a music major if [Professor Milberger] hadn’t given me the faith and the skills to be successful at doing what I love,” she said. “I’ll be forever grateful I came to Southern Virginia because of him.”
Patrick Summers, another graduating music major, expressed similar gratitude for the professors at Southern Virginia.
“The invaluable part of this university [is] … the relationships I have with select students and professors, namely Dr. Carter, Dr. Robison, and Professor Dransfield,” he said.
Summers recently produced a composition recital. He said that the most satisfying part of his senior recital was the opportunity to “have great musicians performing [his] works” and to see the pieces come to life.
For theatre majors, senior acting recitals can involve reprising previous roles from the university’s theatre productions, finding and performing new scenes and monologues, and producing a show that emphasizes a specific theme or idea.
Gloria Salisbury, the 2015 valedictorian and a theatre major at Southern Virginia, named her show “Antagonistas” because of her focus on female antagonists. She said that she wants to do away with the idea that the antagonist is “necessarily the bad guy,” explaining that while the role of antagonist “might include Natascha Von Metzgermörder and Lady Macbeth, it also includes characters like Antigone.”
Salisbury voiced her appreciation for the comradery that comes through the production of senior recitals, citing how students including other seniors volunteered their time to help make her senior recital possible.
Jessica Jolley, who is majoring in both theatre and biology, performed in an acting recital titled “What I Did for Love.” For both Jolley and Salisbury, the capstone project built on their previous experience in class, onstage, and in aspects of the university’s theatre productions including choreography.
“I got what I came here for, which was the experience of Southern Virginia, of becoming a leader-servant, of learning how to learn,” said Salisbury.
Jolley said that she loved working with her cast and crew for her recital, as well as with Robert Stoddard, associate professor of theatre at Southern Virginia.
“I would be crazy not to thank Professor Stoddard for everything he has done,” she said. “That man has pushed me to my breaking point and beyond while teaching me that with the Lord and hard work, anything is possible.”