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Student credits daughter for drive to perform senior recital

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Courtney Morrison performed her senior recital in front of a crowd of 35 that included her one-year-old daughter Jayla, on Oct. 27, in Hoag Recital Hall.

Morrison, a 21-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo. native, said she credits Jayla for being her motivation to complete college.

“She’s pretty much the reason I want to be better, and get my degree and be able to support for her,” Morrison said, “so she can know that her mom, even though through difficult times, persevered and tried to make life better for her.”

Among the songs she performed, Morrison sang in Italian, French, German and English. Diane Eickelman, a staff accompanist of the music department, played piano and accompanied Morrison for the entire concert.

Morrison started out with two songs in Italian: “Vittoria, mio core!” by Giacomo Carissimi and “Sento nel core” by Alessandro Scarlatti. Next, she performed French songs “Le Secret” and “Au bord de l’eau” by Gabriel Faure. “Widmung” and “Der Ring” by Robert Schumann, sung in German, ended the first half of the program.

Barbara Beck, an artist in residence of the music department, has worked with Morrison on her vocal performance for the last five semesters, and was in the audience for the concert.

Photo by Zak Bratton

For the foreign pieces, Beck said memorization had been an issue for Morrison because she was unfamiliar with the languages and their pronunciations.

“Foreign languages are difficult, and her French and German were the hardest for her,” Beck said. “Some of the memory problems she was having a couple days ago, she worked those out. She cleaned up some things, and the couple of places she had trouble with, she didn’t show it.”

After intermission, Morrison performed a variety of songs ranging in genre from gospel and opera, to Broadway musicals and modern pop.

She started with “When Love is Kind” by Thomas Moore, followed by “The Cage” by Charles Ives. Morrison switched to a gospel performance of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” by Robert Mac Gimsey, then to “Summertime” from the opera “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin.

For the last three songs of her performance, Morrison used a microphone. Up until that point, she performed as a soprano, with a higher pitch clearly audible without being amplified.

A microphone was needed for the last three pieces, “Whispering” by Duncan Sheik, “Home” by Charlie Smalls and “Ave Maria” by Beyoncé Knowles, because they are designed for an alto singer.

An alto is lower, and often requires a microphone to be heard. Morrison said her college career was largely focused on her singing as a soprano, however she said she prefers performing as an alto.

“I’m used to singing with a microphone. I’ve done weddings, talent shows,” Morrison said. “Altos are always the foundation of the harmonies, so that’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked alto. I actually did a lot better on those three songs than I’ve ever done because I had a microphone.”

Morrison said these songs were her favorite, even though she had different reasons for liking and selecting them for her performance.

“’Whispering,’ was one of the songs I did last year for the Broadway Showcase,” Morrison said. People tell her it was “one of my best performances,” she said, while “‘Home’ is from ‘The Wiz,’ and that was one of the movies I used to watch all the time when I was little.”

“Beyoncé is like an idol to me, so I guess that’s why I sung that one,” Morrison said, smiling, referring to her concert finale.

After the recital, Beck reflected on Morrison’s performance, and said, “I think she did a really good job. She’s come a long way. She seemed a little nervous but I think she handled herself really well.”

Despite Beck’s observation, Morrison said she was not tense while performing the recital.

“I actually wasn’t, I wasn’t nervous at all. It’s really hard to be able to show your emotion and not mess up in the song, and sing all your right notes and your words,” Morrison said, laughing. “That’s what I’m thinking when I’m singing.”

As a music education major, Morrison will student teach music at Coronado High School next semester. Although she said she is both scared and excited to instruct at the high school level, Morrison said her dream is to teach music to elementary school children, similar to her elementary school music and mentor, Barbara Garris.

“She pretty much shared her love of music with her students,” Morrison said. “Therefore, I want to be able to do the same thing. When I teach, I want to share my love for music and be able to hopefully inspire kids.”

As for her last college performance, Morrison was saddened yet happy, saying, “I enjoyed it but I’m glad it’s over.”