The field for choosing Palladian vocalists each year gets tougher, but our selection this year resulted in two contrasting music theatre pieces, both from new musicals, and both performed by Andrew’s women. Sophomore Rachel Jeffreson chose Francesca’s song ‘Almost Real’, from Jason Robert Brown’s 2014 musical The Bridges of Madison County, and fresher Tiana Young sang ‘No One Will Bruise’, from the as-yet unstaged Australian musical Atlantis by Melbourne composer Matthew Lee Robinson. Both women were sensitively accompanied by Taylor scholar Anthony Chen (fr 2014).
I have to say, it’s not only within College that the field is getting tougher – across the board, the twelve competitors last Thursday night showed an increased consistency of standard. With two music theatre performers and one opera singer on the panel, we had no idea what they would be after. Rachel performed in the first half, and gave a completely compelling performance which showed an amazing emotional maturity. The song choice suited her ability to unleash operatic tones, especially on high notes. There was no other song on the program which demanded as much variety from the singer as did Rachel’s choice.
Tiana was in the second half, and captured the moment from the second she walked on stage. Despite torrential rain, audible in the hall, and the heavy back beat from some nearby Thursday night revels, Tiana opened her song with lengthy silences between each phrase and never faltered over the background noise. This was a belt song which also required serious dynamic range and vocal control, allowing Tiana to demonstrate a lot more variety of skill than many of the other competitors.
It’s a testament to both women that you could have heard a pin drop in that hall, the large and sometimes rowdy audience falling silent as their stories unfolded. It’s also a testament to both women that they scooped the pool, primarily for their abilities to tell their story, with Rachel securing her win for having made at least one judge cry. Tiana’s second place is a huge achievement for a first year debuting in Palladian. Congratulations to Rachel, Tiana and Anthony for doing us all so very proud.
- Dr Sarah Penicka-Smith, Director of Music
Images courtesy of fresher Sofia Milne and Tom Hicks (fr 2016)