Last Saturday evening in the Lang Concert Hall, Kelley Langhans ’16 held her senior vocal recital. Langhans, a mezzo-soprano and California native, performed a variety of selections from composers including Schumann, Handel, and Hahn. The recital, which was attended by approximately 50 family members, friends, and members of the community, was followed by a reception in the Lang Music Building lobby.
Langhans, a biology major and music minor, has been an active participant in the college’s music department since she was a first-year. Her extensive involvement includes starring in musicals, taking private voice lessons through the college, and attending vocal workshops in Florence and on the Amalfi Coast.
“Kelley’s really special … she’s got a really warm, rich mezzo voice, but on top of that, she has a … very deep command of her musicianship, and a very connected technique,” said Clara Rottsolk, Langhans’ voice teacher. All of those attributes were on display Saturday night as Langhans demonstrated her vocal abilities. Langhans, who was accompanied by pianist Debra Scurto-Davis, began her performance with renditions of three songs from Robert Schumann’s 1840 collection, “Myrthen Op. 25.” Her selections spanned a variety of languages and moods, from Samuel Barber’s gentle melodies in “A green lowland of pianos” to the soaring vocal acrobatics of Handel’s “Venti Turbini.”
“One of the ones that was the most fun for me to sing was the Rossini piece,” said Langhans.
Her performance of Rossini’s “Cruda Sorte” was notable for her mastery of the song’s quick, complex vocal runs, a compositional technique known as “coloratura.” Langhans performed “Cruda Sorte” as the final song in her program, but after prolonged applause, Langhans elected to perform an encore of “If I Were a Bell” from the Broadway musical “Guys & Dolls.”
“Musical theatre is nice, and fun to sing … people can relate really well to musical theatre,” said Langhans regarding her choice of an encore.
Langhans had previously starred as Sarah in the Swarthmore music department’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” Furthermore, Langhans performed as Bo in the college’s production of “The Royal Singer.” Langhans’ extensive involvement in the department is not just limited to performances, as she has refined her craft through voice lessons with independent teachers.
“Swarthmore has a program here where you can take [voice lessons] for credit through the [music] department, and they’ll partially subsidize you,” said Langhans.
Langhans, who has participated in the college’s chorus and chamber chorus, highly recommends that interested students become involved by auditioning for the department’s program. According to Langhans, the department has expanded its offerings since her arrival.
“Since I’ve come here, they’ve started having opera scenes, workshops, and putting on operas; there’ll be an opera later this semester,” said Langhans.
Langhans emphasized the music department’s willingness to engage students’ proposals, as well as the quality of instruction available at Swarthmore.
“All you have to is really push the department to do stuff, and they’ll get behind it,” said Langhans. As her considerable involvement with the department draws to a close, Langhans has won the respect and admiration of teachers and peers.
“She’s earned every bit of it. She’s taken extra music classes, she’s done extra summer programs,” said Rottsolk.
Langhans’ evident dedication is displayed by the fact that, according to Rottsolk, Langhans’ recital was not a required portion of her studies. The senior, who plans to go into the conservation biology field after graduation, chose to have a senior recital as a culmination of her vocal performance career at Swarthmore.
“I was incredibly impressed by her recital,” said Natania Levy ’17. “She showed mastery of technique, style, and language … she lost herself in her music and took the audience with her.”
“At the end of the day, I think [Kelley’s combination of vocal qualities] comes across in a really engaging and thrilling performance”, agreed Rottsolk.
For those who can’t get enough of Langhans’ vocal stylings, she is slated to appear as Dido in the music department’s performance of Henry Purcell’s 1689 opera “Dido and Aeneas,” which will premiere in April.