On Feb. 13, Katherine Soroka, mezzo-soprano adjunct voice faculty member, graced Walker Recital Hall and commanded its stage with her skills and mastery of the vocal repertoire.
Her recital was titled “Songs from the Heart: A Musical Valentine,” and was given just in time for Valentine’s Day.
When Soroka entered the stage, her presence lit up the auditorium.
She wore a decadent red ballgown befitting the performance.
Her accompanist Nathan Carterette, piano, wore a matching red bowtie.
Soroka opened the recital with “Ch’io mi scordi di te,” K. 505, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
It was a fitting song to open the recital with its warm vocal part and upbeat tempo.
The next song on the program brought Kellen Degnan, cello, to the stage to accompany Soroka for “Élégie,” Op. 10, no 5 by Jules Massenet.
The song opened with a beautifully solemn tone, to which the cello responded in kind and continued its lush, dramatic chord progressions.
Throughout the song, the cello sang along with Soroka and they hit each note together.
Overall, each musician played true to the song’s dramatic and gorgeous nature and namesake.
When Soroka sang the next song, “Adieux l’ hotesse du arabe,” Op. 21, no 4 by Georges Bizet, she showcased her stage background as she danced to the song.
Following this was “Nicolette” from Trois Chansons, no 1 by Maurice Ravel.
This was a more playful song and Soroka showed off her acting skills as she transformed into the characters.
Soroka then sang “Violon,” FP 101, no 5, by Frances Poulenc.
“Violon” was a sultry French piece that made me feel like I was in some Parisian lounge in the 1920s with cigarette smoke lingering in the air.
Soroka then performed Ravel’s “Kaddisch” from Deux Mélodies Hébraïques, no 1.
She sang this piece to honor the memory of those lost in the Tree of Life tragedy. As she transitioned to this song, her mood and expression changed instantly.
The opening of the song was one of the parts that gave me chills on this recital.
Before intermission, Carterette gave a solo performance on the piano, the piece “L’ isle joyeuse,”
L. 106 by Claude Debussy, which he played from memory.
While he gave an excellent performance, this piece did not seem as if it belonged on this recital.
After intermission, Soroka returned to the stage in a different, beautiful red dress.
This was the first faculty recital I have attended that involved a costume change, and it was wonderful.
She sang four out of the five Lieders from “Rückert-Liederm,” a song cycle by Gustav Mahler.
These were very sweet and soft songs, which was pleasantly surprising because they were German.
After this, Jonathan Moser, violin, joined to perform alongside Soroka and Carterette in “O cease thy singing,” Op. 4, no 4, by Sergei Rachmaninoff. This song was beautifully dramatic.
As Soroka and the violin alternated melody and harmony, the song came to life and swirled around the audience as each respective part played off the other and intertwined.
Moser left the stage and Soroka and Carterette continued with “Night Songs,” Op. 45 no 3.
Following this, Mark Dubois, English horn, joined the stage to perform “Wedding Song” by Judith Shatin.
It was overall a very sweet song.
Then Soroka and Carterette to performed “My House” from “Peter Pan” by Leonard Bernstein and “Hello, Young Lovers” from “The King and I” by Richard Rogers.
The closing song Soroka sang was “I carry your heart” by Lee Kesselman. A setting of the e. e. cummings poem of the same name, this song was definitely the highlight of the evening.
It was absolutely gorgeous and well executed. The opening chords on the piano were unsettling, but as the song warmed, it gave me chills as she sang.
The piano part reminded me of a clear, starry night sky as the keys twinkled along to her voice.
After a standing ovation, Soroka and Carterette returned for an encore of “By Strauss” by Ira and George Gershwin, a humorous piece that allowed her to showcase her musical theater background. This piece was, of course, followed by another standing ovation.
Overall, the recital was impeccable.
I have attended many recitals throughout my time at Mercyhurst and this was definitely one of my favorites.
Not only did Soroka present a technical recital to teach the students, but she also gave an actual performance.
Soroka showcased her wide vocal range, technique, skills and operatic/musical theater background all in a little over an hour.
It was a wonderful performance.