By Kenzie Smith, Arts & Entertainment Editor
On Saturday, music education major and Civil War Era studies minor Benjamin McCarley ’24 hosted his senior recital in Paul Recital Hall at 7 p.m. McCarley performed both baritone and clarinet and had piano accompaniment by Victor Fields.
McCarley has been singing since he was a toddler and has played clarinet since fourth grade.
“Singing has always been a big portion of my life, from choirs, private lessons, and my favorite, musical theatre,” McCarley said. “Both singing and playing clarinet have provided many wonderful opportunities.”
An example of these opportunities is the tours McCarley was able to participate in through the Conservatory.
“My favorite memory from the conservatory definitely has to be traveling to the Baltics and Costa Rica for Wind Symphony and Choir in the same semester. Having 2 international tours in the span of 3 months last spring was phenomenal,” McCarley shared.
The selection of songs for the recital were in an array of languages, such as German and French, and had the shared theme of nature.
The recital started with German composer Johannes Brahms’ “Wie Melodien zieht es mir,” “O Kühler Wald” and “Feldeinsamkeit.” McCarley’s performance of these songs created a delicate, melodious atmosphere that correlated with themes of nature. In the program for the recital, McCarley wrote that he dedicated the song to German House: “Living here for the past year and a half now, I’ve made some great friends and community within the house.”
Next, McCarley sang a selection from American composers Lee Hoiby and Ned Rorem’s “5 Poems of Walt Whitman,” which included “Look Down, Fair Moon,” “Beginning My Studies” and “A Clear Midnight.” McCarley created a clear and powerful sound with his emotion-filled singing. McCarley commented on the elements of nature within this selection: “I’d like to dedicate this set to my parents. My love of nature all started back with y’all and the many trips we took together. Thank you for sticking with me all these years, much like a long hike in the woods.”
The next song, American composer Jenni Brandon’s “Chansons de la Nature pour la Clarinette,” was performed on clarinet. Movements one, three, four and six were included from this piece. McCarley created a clear, beautiful and captivating sound within this selection. Movement 4 highlighted the senior’s skill with its variation of notes and speed at which the notes were played. This song was dedicated to adjunct assistant professor for the Sunderman Conservatory of Music Aaron Scott and the Clarinet Studio.
McCarley returned to voice performance with French composer César Franck’s “La Procession.” McCarley dedicated this piece to Professor Fahnestock. The final song of the night was Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “There But for You Go I” from “Brigadoon.” McCarley began this performance by running onto the stage and looking into the distance to correlate with the story of the song. The storytelling feature of this performance continued with McCarley’s emotion-filled facial expressions, while also being accompanied by his powerful singing that filled the entire hall.
McCarley received a standing ovation, and audience member Kelly Smolik ’24 commented on this final piece.
“I really liked the performance,” Smolik said. “I thought the last song was my favorite. He really came alive with the musical number, and I could feel his passion.”
After the recital, McCarley took a moment to speak on his performance, as well as give a glimpse into his future pursuits.
“I think my recital went really great. Everything came together as it should [with] how I practiced. I’m glad to be done and glad to continue working on towards student teaching next semester and continuing working as both a singer and clarinet player,” he said.
Upon reflecting on his time at Gettysburg College, McCarley said, “Coming in Fall 2020 in the midst of the pandemic was interesting to say the least, but I was luckily able to stay on campus all of my semesters. Being a senior definitely feels weird to say aloud, but it feels bittersweet.”
McCarley also shared advice for his fellow students: “BE YOURSELF! I came here not being from the northeast, having absolutely no connections at all. I was able to meet so many wonderful friends and professors who have been mentors to me throughout my time here. If you approach your time here with an open mind, you’ll have so many wonderful opportunities and memories to boot.”
After graduation, McCarley plans to teach, as well as pursue a master’s degree, most likely in education.