Students trained four months to sing 15 songs in four languages; recital helps singer’s transfer to four-year institution.
In a dressing room of McAllister Fine Arts Center Oct. 28, music sophomores Magda Lysette Ortiz Rieth and Candice Emilie Winn practiced their vocal exercises until they were prepared for the spotlight.
Rieth, a mezzo-soprano in a scarlet gown, and Winn, a soprano in a lavender gown, performed in this college’s first student voice recital in at least five years. More than 65 people watched them sing solos and a duet in the auditorium of McAllister.
But first, Winn and Rieth took selfies backstage.
They also touched up their makeup and warmed their vocal chords with scale exercises.
“Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do,” they sang.
They sang, “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,” their voices rising an octave higher with each “ha,” along to a video of scale exercises by music Professor Cindy Sanchez, adviser for voice education and performance majors.
Rieth and Winn relaxed when their vocal instructor, music adjunct Madeline Elizondo, arrived before they went onstage.
“These are two very special ladies.” Elizondo said. “They have been working very hard this summer and fall semester to get ready for this performance.”
She gave them each a tight squeeze and offered last-minute advice before they took the stage to deliver their performances.
Rieth performed 11 classical songs while Winn sang five. The songs varied from English and French to German and Russian. The last song in the set was a duet, “Sous le dome épais” from “Lakmé,” a three-act opera composed in 1883 by Léo Debiles, a French composer who specialized in ballets and operas.
Before attending this college, Rieth studied at the University of North Texas. Elizondo had advised Rieth in the spring to audition for a solo student concert because it would help her gain experience with vocal performance.
The recital was a special event, fine arts Chair Jeff Hunt said. This college had not hosted one since he became chair five years ago.
“We don’t usually do student recitals so this is a very unique opportunity for both Magda and SAC,” Hunt said. “And the reason why we are doing a student recital is because Magda is actually classified as a junior, so this would substitute for her junior recital credit. And she will, more than likely after this year, this semester, she is transferring back to either North Texas or UTSA. So that’s good because she’ll have her student recital done.”
Rieth and Winn practiced daily for the entire summer and beginning of the fall semester to prepare for the concert. Music adjunct Cindy Ellis accompanied them on the piano.
Winn will graduate in the spring with an associate degree. She is still unsure about where she will continue her music education but is certain it will be in vocal performance like Rieth.
Before high school, Rieth’s background was more Selena than Salieri.
Rieth played trumpet in her middle school band so she could play Tejano music with her family.
“There are a lot of musicians in my family,” she said. “Just growing up around that sort of thing has developed a lifelong passion in a sense.”
She stopped enjoying band and switched to choir, which she says opened up a whole new spectrum of music. At Warren High School, Rieth continued to pursue her growing interest in classical music and joined the jazz choir.
After graduation, she applied to the University of North Texas to study music because of its reputation as one of the top music schools in the nation. She was involved in the university’s jazz choir, opera and chamber choirs.
Rieth said it wasn’t all she had hoped it would be. She fell behind in her studies because of her lack of formal music education. She hadn’t had any exposure with technical classes like music theory, music history and beginning piano so it took a hit on her confidence as a young singer.
“It wasn’t what I was expecting at the time. The choir program wasn’t that big of a deal,” Rieth said. “It was a drag on my motivation and it didn’t seem worth it anymore.”
She returned home to San Antonio, but it didn’t take her long to understand that she had to revive her studies.
Rieth applied to this college in 2013 and currently sings with the San Antonio Master Singers. Before the Oct. 28 recital, she had to prepare for an audition on Nov. 24 for UNT’s music program. She expects to receive the results a couple of weeks after her audition. She wants to return to UNT to earn a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance.
“You don’t lose that interest overnight,” she said. “I realized one day that I need to go back to music, because that’s what I need to be doing.”