A “Progressive” Senior Recital, In Every Sense Of The Word

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progressive: pro·gres·sive [/prəˈɡresiv/] adjective:

  1. happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.
  2. (of a group, person, or idea) favoring or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.

It’s one thing to master a single instrument; it’s another to master two…and play both of them incredibly well. For the first time in Bucknell music history, senior Music Education major Sam Robinson ’15 showcased both his piano and organ talents in not one, but two different locations on campus. Robinson’s culminating “progressive” Senior Recital took place first in the Natalie Davis Rooke Recital Hall, then in Rooke Chapel for a student performance unlike anything Bucknell has ever seen or heard.

The duality of Robinson’s performance originated from his creative interpretation of the word “progressive”: not only did he create an original and unique performance unlike any of his predecessors’ recitals, but he showcased his two outstanding musical talents in two entirely different, yet simultaneously meaningful locations on Bucknell’s campus.

First, Robinson opened his Senior Recital in the Natalie Davis Rooke Recital Hall in the Sigfried Weis Music Building with his piano performance. Robinson performed four pieces of music: William A. Burnson’s Fixations (2010), movements I., VI. & IX.; Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise (1915); Wolfgang Mozart’s Oiseaux si tous les ans (1777); and Franz Joseph Haydn’s Sonata No. 59 in E flat, Hob. XVI/49 (1789).

Clearly, Robinson went straight for the big leagues. His opening performance of the modern Fixations moved listeners right from the get-go. Continuing with his interpretations of Rachmaninoff, Mozart and Haydn’s complex, intricate and infamous music, Robinson delighted and impressed his audience. As he played this music—music that’s stood the test of time for decades and generations—Robinson contributed his own verse by playing and honoring these compositions.

But it wasn’t all about him.  Being the selfless person that he is, Robinson also featured the musical talents of his friends as collaborators on these pieces. For Vocalise, Robinson featured the dynamic talents of cellist Nikki Allison ’15; on  Oiseaux si tous les ans, Robinson partnered with talented tenor Tom Kroszner ’16 to give audiences a dual piano-vocal performance…in French!

As his piano performance came to a close, Robinson’s audience was invited to literally “progress”/process to Rooke Chapel during intermission. When his audience members eventually got settled in the Chapel, Robinson—with enough class and decorum to fill the entire Chapel—took a seat at the massive, intricate, beautiful organ positioned in the center of the room. Robinson played both Dietrich Buxtedhude’s Magnificat primi toni, Bux WV 203 and Felix Mendelssohn’s Organ Sonata No. 1 in f minor in four movements (1845). But Robinson didn’t just play the organ: he moved his fingers and feet rapidly yet strategically, to create the best possible sound for his awe-struck listeners. On Magnificat primi toni, Bux WV 203, Robinson’s friends Tom Krozner ’16, Tom Carle ’14, Darren Kusar ’16, Marcus Shenck ’16 and Dan Willard ’15 joined him as they sang text from the Book of Common Prayer (1979) in-between Robinson’s organ verses.

When Robinson concluded the final verse of Organ Sonata No. 1 in f minor, he stood proudly to the crowd, who eagerly applauded his excellence. After his recital, Daisy Bourne ’15 commented, “[Sam’s] recital was so amazing. It's such a nice change of pace from the music we typically hear at Bucknell to be exposed to the more refined, classical music that Sam played. And of course Sam was phenomenal! Going to recitals, it never ceases to amaze me how talented people on Bucknell’s campus are!"

[Image provided by the author]