School has its bitter-sweet twists and turns. People come and go; some transfer, some move on, and some graduate, changing with their absence or addition the everyday experience of attending school.
Janie Rife, a senior studying vocal performance, will graduate in May, taking with her a piece of the college experience. Her influence, though centered in the Music department, has extended further and deeper into the Billings community than just our college campus.
Ms. Rife has performed in a variety of local churches and RMC Choir Concerts, she has performed in The Crucible and other Opera’s at the Alberta Bair Theatre, and she has shared her talents with the RMC Theatre department, including playing “Bloody Mary” in South Pacific.
But it was her Senior Recital, held March 12, 2013, that showcased how her years of study have diminished her faults and augmented her skills.
Her Recital repertoire was divided into four “sets”, performance segments, with a selection of music written in English, Italian, German and French.
The first set opened with In The Beginning by Jake Heggie, followed a Ch’io Mai vi Possa, and Lascia Ch’io Pianga by G. F. Handel, and Una Voce Poco Fa by G. Rossini. In The Beginning, opened with a brief piano introduction which brought to mind the sort of music one might here in a 1920′s speakeasy; not what one may expect in a vocal performance recital.
“In the beginning,” Sang Janie Rife in silky jazz tones “Was the cat.” and the audience had to laugh as she continued in the style of a cabaret sweetheart: “And the cat was without purrr.” emphasizing the “r” of “purr” with a rolling technique which achieved a wonderfully comedic effect to accompany her expressive features.
Ms. Rife seemed to enjoy the playfulness of her first set, finishing with the aria Una Voce Poco Fa from Rossini’s Il barbeire di Siviglia, which she staged herself, portraying Rosina in a moment of reflection as she determines to marry Lodoro. Saying, ”I accept guidance. But if you touch me where I’m most sensitive, I will be a viper, and a hundred tricks I’ll play before I’m through.”
The second set contained four German pieces: Die Stille Stadt and Ich Wandle Unter Blumen by Alma Mahler, and Warum Willst Du And’re Fragen and Sie Liebten Sich Beide by Clara Schumann. Though sung in German, Ms. Rife conveyed through her vocal and facial expression a certain intensity of meaning which seemed to say “What I am singing goes beyond words, just listen. I know what I’m doing, I’ll guide you and you will hear what I feel.”
Her self-possession and awareness extended into the arrangement of the recital. Having opened with In The Beginning, which was written in English, she sung the first and second sets in Italian and German. The third set was a selection of six pieces from Hermit Songs by Samuel Barber, giving the audience the luxury of hearing English text.
Making her forth and final set a pleasant ending to a spectacular concert. Her final set was a selection of French Pieces, consisting of Que Fais-tu, Blanche Tourterelle by Charles Gounod, with L’Heure Exquise and Si Mes Vers Avaient Des Ailes by Reynaldo Hahn.
Though her recital is over, Janie Rife is far from through with her singing career. In fact, she will be performing in a variety of shows before spring is through, including: A Master Class with Pamela South, on March 20th starting at 7:30PM in Losekamp Hall; The RMC Concert Choir and Chamber Singers on April 13 starting at 7:30PM in Saint Patrick’s Co-Cathedral; and in Aida at the Alerbta Bair Theatre on April 27th.