Senior piano virtuosos build on shared musical experience

Jessie Lanza ’15 and Jane Cardona ’15 will be performing on Nov. 22 at 1:30pm in Skinner Hall through the Music Department. Lanza, soprano, and Cardona, piano, decided to do their senior recital together, after taking music lessons during their time at Vassar. Both performers have a strong background in music and drama, and have brought their talents from high school to Vassar since their freshmen year. Cardona, who has been playing piano for fifteen years, wrote in an emailed statement, “I used to play Christmas carols that I heard on the piano and my mom asked me if I wanted lessons and I said ‘YES!’ I always enjoyed playing piano (not practicing though), but I didn’t realize I really loved it until high school.”

Lanza recounted the beginning of her musical history in an emailed statement, “I’ve been singing my whole life. One of my earliest memories is singing My Fair Lady around a campfire at a family reunion when I was four years old.”

She continued, “My mom then made me start taking piano lessons when I was six years old, and I hated it for a long time, but it really helped [me] become a better musician all around, and I thank her for it now. Of course. Moms are always right.”

Lanza became even more involved during high school through different organizations. “I was in every choir my school offered and did every musical they put on, I did some musicals at my community theatre back home, and did private piano lessons and voice lessons,” she wrote.

As well, Cardona wrote  about her high school experiences that sparked her musical career at Vassar. “I went to a performing arts charter school and I accompanied the choir and the musicals and took tons of theory classes,” she commented.

“I think music has always been in me…Doing choir in High School really made it a huge part of my life I knew I couldn’t live without,” Lanza commented.

Moving to the next level of music at Vassar , Lanza and Cardona connected right away with the music and drama community here. Lanza wrote, “Being a drama major I have done a lot of performances, and been able to sing in many of the Department shows. I have done a lot of work with FWA (The Future Waitstaff of America) and am the president now.”

She continued, “I was also a member of BAM (Broadway and More A Cappella) for three years, and Vassar College Choir for a year and a half. I also have been taking private voice lessons through Vassar my whole time here, which is how I am able to have this recital!” Cardona has also has been active in the arts at Vassar and wrote, “I have music directed and accompanied a lot of FWA shows, and one Department show (Hubcrawl), and I’m doing a Department show next semester (Cabaret). I’ve also accompanied Mads (madrigals), WoCo (women’s chorus), and VCC (Vassar College choir)… I take piano lessons and chamber lessons and I’m a music major and I don’t think I’m allowed to take any more music classes because I’ve taken too many.”

This recital is not the first time Lanza and Cardona have worked together, “We have worked on some FWA shows together, which were all a blast. And next semester we are going to be doing Cabaret through the Drama Department, which is my senior thesis in drama that Jane is music directing, [on] April 9 to 11.” said Lanza in an emailed statement.

Cardona commented as well on the working relationship the two have had throughout their time at Vassar. She wrote, “I accompanied her in the Drowsy Chaperone, and we did Hubcrawl with the Department together also, but I think next semester during the department production of Cabaret will be the first time we’ll get to really dig into music together for a theater production.”

For this recital, both musicians have been rehearsing alone as well as jointly. “We’ve practiced together on our own… and I’ve had lessons with Tom Sauer (my piano teacher), as well as chamber rehearsals…and have spent almost every waking hour of the rest of week practicing in Skinner. Some non-waking hours too (evading security).” commented Cardona. Lanza as well wrote, “Jane comes to my voice lesson every week and we also find time throughout the week to meet and jam out in Skinner.”

Looking forward to their performance, Cardona commented, “I’ve also never performed solo classical stuff for my peers, I’ve always just been the accompanist, which is definitely my preferred role–hiding in the pit orchestra has a sense of anonymity that I appreciate–stage presence is naht my forte (no pun intended).”

While both Lanza and Cardona have fully immersed themselves in the world of music at Vassar, as seniors they are looking to the future as well. “I’m a music major and plan on accompanying somewhere… learn a bunch of instruments and genres and hopefully find musicians to jam with. Eventually I think I’d like to music direct theater in some capacity. I really enjoy having a good story that music (especially collaborative music) can enhance.” Cardona wrote about her intended plans. Lanza concluded, “I am a drama major and really hope to be able to pursue acting after Vassar. I would especially love to continue performing in musical theatre because I love singing so much and want to keep music in my life forever.”

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