Graduate students showcase opera music

Michael Bragg

Second year graduate students Katie Hensley and Johnny Harmon are in the final leg of their musically-focused scholastic endeavors, and hope to showcase all of the ascertained knowledge during their voice recital Sunday.

“It is nerve racking but exciting all at the same time,” Hensley said. “We spend months and years preparing for this so it’s a great opportunity to share with friends and family what you have worked so hard to achieve.”

Harmon and Hensley are responsible for the assembly of programs, stage design and wardrobe.

“Me and Katie are basically going to switch off performances, singing a set of songs at once and then letting the other sing,” Harmon said.

Pieces performed in French, Italian, German and English are required in order to pass the program.

“My favorite languages to sing in are German and French,” Harmon said. “Appalachian does not offer Italian, so that one is tricky to get down, but we have to have two years of both German and French in order to pass the program.”

Harmon and Hensley are both Appalachian alumni and have one more semester of classes to attend in order to complete their graduate student studies.

“I student taught in 2011 and decided to come back to Appalachian State for my graduate degree in voice performance,” Hensley said. “This performance is a requirement for my masters of voice performance and me and Johnny will be performing a mixture of opera, art song and opera/operetta.”

Senior vocal performance major Sabbath Ward had Hensley as a vocal coach last year.

“I think Katie [Hensley] has worked really hard to get where she is right now, and deserves the best after college,” she said.

Different musical periods are required, like Burlesque and Renaissance era pieces, with both Hensley and Harmon singing upwards of 10 individual pieces, ending with a duet.

“Me and Katie [Hensley] have long prepared for this performance, and have studied these time periods, languages and styles, so I think we are prepared for it,” Harmon said.

After the conclusion of their studies, both Harmon and Hensley said they wish to continue to focus on singing and performance of opera.

“People can expect both a learning experience in that they may be hearing songs and genres they’ve never heard before as well as a fun time,” Hensley said.

Harmon said he thinks it is important that people should listen to music that was popular in other eras.

“The songs we are going to sing were the songs that would have been on the radio if they had one,” he said.

The performance is free of charge at the Recital Hall of the Hayes School of Music starting at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Story: WILL GREENE, A&E Reporter