On a Sunday afternoon this past May, a full house in Zipper Hall was treated to a particularly special McAllister Spring Honors Recital. Not only had it just been renamed in honor of retiring Community School Dean Robert McAllister, but for many of the students, it would be their last concert at Colburn before heading off to college.
To be able to perform on this culminating recital, students must undergo a nerve-racking selection process. Before even being able to audition, they must be nominated by their teachers to perform on a Friday Night Recital, the Community School’s weekly recital series. After that, they can be chosen by a faculty jury to audition for that semester’s honors recital. This year, 14 students were elected to perform out of 44 soloists and chamber groups, making the process both competitive and rigorous.
The Honors Recital is “a crown jewel of the Community School,” explains Dean McAllister. “If you look at the Colburn School as a continuum, with the Conservatory and the Academy, everything about the school stands for the highest quality. And the honors recital is exactly that. It really represents our best level of performance.”
The recital demonstrates not only the quality of Community School students and faculty, but also the growth and continued improvement of excellence that Dean McAllister championed over the last 12 years. “After a long career in community arts education, it is fitting that his legacy and name will also live on at Colburn through the Community School’s annual spring Honors Recital,” says Assistant Dean Sara Hiner.
For students, the honors recital holds a special significance. “Being selected to perform at this recital as my last performance at the Colburn School was exhilarating and a true honor. It was a very fitting way to end my Colburn career,” shares cellist Kevin Kim over email. “Being able to perform and showcase the culmination of my musical knowledge and passion at this venue for my last performance at Colburn was ineffably satisfying.”
“I have been coming to the Colburn School all my life, and I have always had a special reverence towards the performers on the Honors Recital,” agrees violist Johanna Linna, who performed both as a soloist and with her fellow members in the Meraki Quartet. “When I was little, everyone on that Honors Recital was a professional musician (and that thought has not really changed for me now, I still believe that everyone on the Honors Recital is a fantastic performer). It was a level that I never even dreamed that I would attain. Being chosen to perform in Zipper was magical.”
After the performance, emotions ran the gamut. “There was a sense of relief and excitement after we finished, but also sadness because we love playing with each other,” writes pianist Maya Paredes. In her two years at Colburn, Maya and her trio became as close as family, but each member will be heading in a different direction next year. “Our trio knew that this was the last time we would be performing with each other for a while, but we gave it our all and felt that we were successful in relaying the tragic yet beautiful despairing emotions of Bedrich Smetana in our performance.”
Whether thrilled with their performances or sad to share the stage with their peers for the last time, the students agreed that the honors recital was a fulfilling way to end not only the year, but also their careers at Colburn. “The honors recital for me was the finale of both the sonata and my time at Colburn,” says Johanna. “I know that I left my heart on the stage and I hope the audience could feel that.”