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Whitley Chesney sings graduate voice recital

Whitley Chesney, soprano, performing at her graduate voice recital. The recital was held at McCray Hall and included songs in French, English, German, and Italian. Daniel Tustin

A recital of any instrument at the master’s level is a feat. The master’s recital of Fort Scott USD director of choirs Whitley Chesney was no different.

On Aug. 15 at 4 p.m, alumnus in music Whitley Chesney performed her master’s level recital in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall of McCray Hall. The recital included a variety of repertoire organized by style and sung language. Chesney performed “Six Elizabethan Songs” by Dominick Argento in English, “Quel guardo il cavaliere, so anch’io la virtu magica” from “Don Pasquale” by Gaetano Donizetti in Italian, “Air chantes” by Francis Poulenc in French, and three arias from “Die Zauberflote” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in German. The recital was accompanied by lecturer in piano Lori Kehle.

“This recital was tough, both for the music and for doing it during a pandemic,” Chesney said. “I took a year-long break because I started learning the German first. That’s what I usually do, just because I prefer to sing in German. This recital is very different because it’s four full sets rather than my senior recital in undergrad where it was a few songs here and a few songs there…”

Chesney is also the director of choirs at USD 234 in Fort Scott and is currently studying in the Master of Arts in teaching program through the College of Education.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was tough to meet with Mrs. Kehle to rehearse,” Chesney said. “That combined with getting the job in Fort Scott, there was just not a lot of time to get together. There’d be times where I get home from school, be at home for 30 minutes, and then go to rehearsal. It was tough, but it was so rewarding.”

Chesney received her bachelor’s degree in music performance with an emphasis in voice from Pittsburg State University in spring 2019. She transferred from the University of Kansas in 2015 and, since attending PSU, she has participated in a variety of avenues in the department of music. She played flute and piccolo in the Pride of the Plains Marching Band and the PSU Wind Ensemble, and sang in both the University Choir and the Chorale. Additionally, she performed with the PSU Opera Studio in a variety of roles.

She also met her husband, Alex, spring 2021 alumnus in music with an emphasis in choral conducting, during her time at PSU.

“I was so happy to see her perform this big recital that she’s been working so hard on,” Alex said. “It’s definitely a weight off her shoulders, but I know that she is very proud of her own work. I am so immensely proud of her as well.”

Alex also said that being married to another musician is “quite rewarding.”

“It’s wonderful to be married to her,” he said. “It’s nice to have someone on your side that you can always go to when you need stress relief from this busy life or to bounce various questions off of. It’s also nice to have something of a useful critic if you need.”

After completing her master’s recital, Whitley will be performing with Divisi, a professional choir out of Joplin, Mo on Sunday, Aug. 22. The concert will take place at Grace Episcopal Church in Carthage, Mo at 4 p.m. The ensemble is mostly made up of local music educators from around the four-state area.

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