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John O’Brien, pianist, and Jessie Wright, mezzo soprano, perform their recital at McCray Hall Friday Oct. 25. The concert was Scandinavian themed. Diego Oliva

Former faculty Jessie Wright Martin gives voice recital

The Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall hosts many acts and performances throughout the year, and the stage became a homecoming for Jessie Wright Martin. 

Mezzo-soprano Jessie Wright Martin gave a solo voice recital on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall. Martin’s performance was one of many performances scheduled on a recital tour, in collaboration with pianist John O’Brien. The pieces performed on the recital were comprised of Scandinavian art songs by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, Swedish composer Gunnar de Frumeri, and Danish composer Peter Heisse 

“Well, I love communicating…” Martin said. “That’s what music is about to me… I always wanted to teach. That was always something I wanted to do, and then, I started singing. Singing is really great way to connect with people…” 

Martin said she had been preparing for the recital for more than a year. 

“I’ve given many recitals but this one was a lot more preparation than other ones I’ve given..,” Martin said. “I went to Wisconsin and studied with teachers there, and then in May I went to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark and worked with the teachers there… I really did a significant amount of preparation on how to pronounce the languages. I’ve never sung in any of these languages before…” 

Martin is currently an associate professor of voice and director of opera at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina and in 2011, she received the Debra O’Neal Award for Excellence in Teaching. Before her time at Wingate University, she was a professor of voice and director of opera at Pittsburg State University from 2001 to 2007 and many of her former students from her time at PSU attended the concert. 

“Walking out on that stage, I knew some of them (her former students) were going to be here…” Martin said. “It was wonderful to get to catch up with them and see how far they’ve come…” 

Martin also encouraged even non-music major students to come out and attend guest faculty recital like hers, primarily due to the “experience received.” 

“Well, of course when you leave college, things aren’t free…” Martin said. “You might get to hear something that you never hear again. These are songs that are almost never performed. Especially the Swedish and Danish songs, nobody knows these songs… When a guest comes in, you’re going to hear new pieces, new languages; that’s what we’re here (college) for is to learn…” 

Martin gave a masterclass on Thursday, Oct. 24 to students studying voice, including junior in music education Thomas Deane. 

“She was fantastic,” Deane said. “We performed for her during studio class and she gave everyone lots of helpful technique things to work on… Getting to hear her sing after she gave some pointers was also super helpful…” 

Martin received her doctorate of musical arts and master’s in vocal performance from Louisiana State University and her bachelor’s in music performance from Florida State University.

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