Lucy Mason '25 sings on stage with Dr. Robak accompanying on piano
Lucy Mason ‘25 singing with Dr. Robak accompanying. Photo courtesy Awais Abid ‘24.

On September 17th, recipients of the Plott and Millner Music Scholarships performed in a Scholar’s Recital in Tyler-Tallman Hall. I provided each of the performers with a series of prompts before and after the concert so that they could reflect on their anticipation, preparation, and the show. 

Mahrle Siddall ’25, Soprano (she/her)

  • Before: I am a soprano vocalist and I have been singing since I could talk, but I started singing classical music when I was 13. I enjoy singing because I can constantly improve, and it makes me feel accomplished. I am excited for this concert because it is my first performance in college, and I get to finally be on stage again. I will be performing “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Puccini. I have prepared for this piece by working with my voice coach, Jacquelyn Culpepper, and Dr. Robak.
  • After:  It was extremely refreshing to perform in front of a live audience again. I was nervous because I wasn’t feeling my best and it was hard to breathe correctly in a mask, but I got through it, and my friends were very supportive of me. There weren’t any surprises while performing for me. I was proud of myself upon completing my last note because I had just performed for the first time in college. I am definitely looking forward to my next performance and improving.

Victoria Fusco ’23, Violin (she/her)

  • Before: I’m a violinist and I have been playing since I was 4 years old—so 16 years! Music is something I consider to be an essential part of my voice, and I love having the opportunity to share it with so many people. This will be my first performance in front of a real audience since the beginning of the pandemic and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I can’t wait to share the experience with new and old scholars of bringing our music to the Davidson community, especially after such a challenging year. I know it’s going to be so rewarding! At the recital, I will be performing a short, unaccompanied piece, titled “Theme” from the Red Violin Caprices by John Corigliano.
  • After: It was extremely refreshing to perform in front of a live audience. While I was playing, I felt so moved by the music. I felt at home. After my last note was finished and I heard the audience begin to clap, I smiled and remembered how much I adore that feeling of completing a performance. I’m very excited for my next concert, which is only a few days from now. I will be playing alongside my peers in the orchestra, which is a very different, but equally rich experience as a solo performance!

Abby Reardon ’25, Soprano (she/her)

  • Before: I’m a singer, and I’ve been taking lessons since eighth grade and participating in choir since fourth grade. Singing is a way for me to express myself and to find a refuge from my other stressors. I love being able to illustrate stories through my voice! I’m incredibly excited and fortunate to be taking lessons here at Davidson, and I’m thrilled to be able to share my voice so early in the semester. I’ll be performing “O Del Mio Dolce Ardor,” which I’ve enjoyed preparing for with my voice teachers and with a lot of time in the practice room. 
  • After: It was wonderful to get to perform for a live audience in such a beautiful space! I was very nervous before performing, but even though my knees were shaking, notes still came out of my mouth. Despite having a little bit of anxiety, I still love performing and enjoyed this recital thoroughly, especially knowing that I had a supportive group of people for me in the audience and at home. I was thrilled after completing my last note simply because it came out as I intended it to. I can’t wait to perform again for a Davidson audience!

Bryan Kirk ’22, Clarinet (he/him)

  • Before: I play the clarinet and I started taking lessons when I was 10 years old. Music is enjoyable to me because I can challenge myself to learn new pieces and playing in the orchestra is an opportunity to make new friends and work as part of a team. I am always nervous before concerts, but I am excited to play for a live audience again and perform some of the music I have learned during the pandemic. I will be performing the “Hommage a Bach” and “Hommage a Bartók” by Béla Kovács. I started learning these pieces for my lessons during the pandemic because they are fun, short pieces and they do not require accompaniment to be performed. 
  • After: I enjoyed meeting a lot of the first and second year music scholars for the first time and hearing them perform. It was my first time playing for a live audience since last spring and it was great to see friends and community members in the audience again. I am used to practicing alone, but it felt weird performing without piano accompaniment or the orchestra playing with me. I felt a lot more relaxed when I started my second piece on the program, and I think I overcame more stage fright than I have for any other solo or orchestra performance of my time at Davidson. If anyone would like to hear more music, the Davidson College Symphony Orchestra has our next concerts on October 15th at 5pm for Wildcat Weekend and November 12th at 7:30pm for our Fall Concert.

Ruby Gerken ’25, Soprano (she/her)

  • Before: I have taken voice lessons for seven years, which I love because I enjoy being continually challenged in my lessons as there’s always more to learn. I’m excited for this concert because I am looking forward to hearing my peers perform, but I am also nervous for my first performance at Davidson. I will be performing “Elegie” by Jules Massenet. I have prepared through time in the practice room and discussing areas for improvement in my lessons and performance hour.
  • After: It was exciting to perform in a recital with a live audience again, especially in a new space! Although I was definitely a little bit nervous, and out of practice from performing, I really enjoyed the opportunity to be on stage again. I felt relieved after ending the song, and so happy to have had the experience. I also really enjoyed my peers’ performances. I’m looking forward to performing new repertoire in the fall voice recital and hearing more of my peers sing.

Sylvia Stewart-Bates ’24, (she/her)

  • Before: I play viola and have played for 11 years now. I enjoy playing viola because it offers me a creative and emotional outlet separate from school and sports. I am very excited for this concert, but I also have the usual nerves. I will be playing the first movement of Schubert’s “Viola Sonata” in A minor. I have put in a lot of time working with my private teacher and doing individual practice on the piece. 
  • After: It was quite refreshing to play in front of a live audience. I felt a little jittery, but very happy while I was performing. I was surprised by how nervous I was to perform in front of an audience, probably because I hadn’t played a solo piece in a while. Upon completing my last note, I felt relieved that my practice and self-induced stress had paid off. I am very much looking forward to my next performance. 

Lucy Mason ’25, Soprano (she/her) 

  • Before: I’ve been singing since I was in the second grade and taking voice lessons since I was fourteen. I’ve always loved singing because singing can be a skill as well as a way to share a stage with incredible people. I’m excited for my first performance, but I’m a little nervous since I’m out of practice with managing nerves. I’ve been practicing my piece, “When Love is Kind,” and working with Dr. Culpepper on it, so I hope my efforts and her teaching will pay off. 
  • After: I enjoyed performing for a live audience again, especially because the audience was so supportive. While I was performing, I was surprised that I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. I was happier and more confident than usual, but I felt that some of the things I had wanted to do with the song didn’t hold up as well as I thought they would. Upon completing my last note, I felt proud to have gone through the experience and to have done well. I look forward to my next performance, knowing that I have more background knowledge on what Davidson recitals look like.    

Charis Qi ’24, Piano (she/her) 

  • Before: I play the piano, and I’ve been playing for 14 years. I really enjoy playing the piano because I love experimenting with different pieces and figuring out what would make them sound good, and over time some of my favorite memories are associated with the instrument. Going into the concert, I’m excited about being able to perform again in front of a live audience. I’ll be performing Miroirs No. 2, “Oiseaux Tristes” by Ravel. To prepare, I’ve been recording my practicing to help me figure out where I can improve.
  • After: I enjoyed performing in front of a live audience again, although I felt a little nervous going into it, since I haven’t performed in front of people in a while. Throughout the performance, I was happy that I was finally playing a piece for other people, especially since I’ve been working on it by myself for a while. I was surprised to hear my friends cheering at the recital. I am really grateful to have such supportive friends at the recital. After this performance, I am definitely looking forward to performing more in the future.

LeeAnna Russo ’24, Violin (she/her)

  • Before: I have played the violin for about 14 years. I enjoy the violin because it gives me a chance to artistically express ideas that words cannot say. Although it is always a little intimidating to perform, I am excited to have the opportunity to play in a concert after having such a long break due to the pandemic! I will be playing the third movement of Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor,” which I have prepared by carefully analyzing each passage to work on my intonation.
  • After: It was definitely refreshing to perform for a live audience after taking such a long break! Of course, I felt nervous at first on the stage, but I loved getting to show the audience how my hard work has paid off. I was a bit surprised at how different my violin felt to me when I was under the pressure of performing. When I played the last note, I felt that I had come a long way over the past 14 years of playing the violin. I can’t wait for my next solo performance in October. I am eager to take up as many opportunities to perform as possible so I can grow not only as a violinist but as a performer as well.

Julieta Lessne ‘24 (she/her) is an intended English and Philosophy double major from Fairfax, VA. She can be reached for comment at