Senior Spotlight: Adela Holahan, Soprano

By Ainsley Green, Staff Writer

Adela Holahan ’24 (Photo Eric Lippe/The Gettysburgian)

On Saturday, April 6, Adela Holahan ’24 performed her Senior Recital in Paul Recital Hall. Many friends, family members, faculty members and more came out to support Holahan as she performed a wide range of repertoire to encapsulate her achievements as an undergraduate student. Holahan is a music performance major studying voice at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, and this recital fulfilled an important requirement for her degree. Collaborative Pianist of the Sunderman Conservatory Scott Crowne accompanied every piece in the program.

When asked about the process of preparing for her recital, Holahan said, “I decided last April that I wanted to have my program be all women composers, and just researching and listening to so much music by women composers was a really fun process.” 

The program showcased the work of many female composers of a wide range of musical backgrounds and prominence. Detailed program notes by Holahan highlighted each composer’s career and musical style to help the audience delve into the world of their musicianship.

The first piece performed was a set of three movements from Alma Mahler’s “Funf Lieder,” entitled “I. Die stille Stadt,” “II. In meines Vaters Garten” and “V. Ich wandle unter Blumen.” Each piece had lyrics that were embodied through the music to tell stories, as translated from German to English in the program.

Holahan then sang a French piece by Germaine Tailleferre from an opera buffa, or comic opera, called “Le Pauvre Eugenie.” The aria titled “M’sieur J. Duplan” showcased Holahan’s skills in acting as well as singing, with many moments where the emotions of the plot of the opera shined through. Next, another piece by French composer Cecile Chaminade was performed, which contained three movements: “Bonne humeur,” “Villanelle” and “Sombrero.” Chaminade was known for her beautiful Romantic style melodies, which take a lot of skill to sing. Holahan expressed her admiration for Chaminade in the program notes.

In her next piece, “Dha Amhran” by contemporary composer Fuhong Shi, Holahan sang in Irish, one of five languages in the program.

“I think my experience in the Conservatory these past four years has shaped who I am as a musician so much,” said Adela Holahan ’24. (Photo Eric Lippe/The Gettysburgian)

“It’s also been interesting because I’m singing two songs in Irish, so learning those songs required a lot more work,” Holahan said. “My advisor and studio teacher Dr. Hochmiller has always encouraged me to be myself and try everything. She is a big part of why my recital is so specific and ambitious, because she allowed me to explore and do what I wanted to do.” 

A set of Italian art songs came next in the program, titled “Quattro liriche dai ‘Rubayat’ di Omar Kayam” by Elsa Respighi, a Mexican-Italian composer and mezzo-soprano. The lyrics were translated from four Persian poems by Omar Khayyam and turned into brief and distinct songs.

Finally, works by American composer Gwyneth Walker closed the recital, including “Flirtation: Light and Wine and Pomegranate Flowers” and “Dualities,” each depicting feelings associated with being in love, from hope to sorrow. The audience was very supportive of Holahan after she finished her last piece, and a standing ovation lasted for several minutes. 

“My favorite part of being a Conservatory student is the community. You can always find a friend sitting in the 2nd floor lobby to hang out with, and your professors really care about you both in your academic work and as a person,” Holahan reflected. 

In terms of how her undergraduate experience has affected her, Holahan said, “I think my experience in the Conservatory these past four years has shaped who I am as a musician so much. Gettysburg is a small school and that means you have so many opportunities at your disposal.”

This article originally appeared on page 19 of the No. 2 April 2024 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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