Chadley Ballantyne and Kristie Born Stun Audience With Emotion-Packed Performance

Julia Gray, Social Media Editor/Art Staff

      In a vocal performance between songs, there is a moment where the room is completely silent. If we all ceased to exist, it would be in this moment of equilibrium where we are, collectively, the closest to nothing. Watching assistant professor of music and voice Chadley Ballantyne, D.M.A. pause, turn to the side and recompose felt this way. Visiting lecturer Kristie Born, D.M.A. readied her hands at the piano to move along the keys. It was impossible not to feel charged with electricity while we waited. And then Dr. Ballantyne turned back to us, took a breath, and began singing again.

      This opera concert with vocals accompanied by the piano was largely not in English. There was a packet provided for attendees with the lyrics both in each piece’s language as well as in English, but I decided not to take this packet because I wanted to feel the music and immerse myself in the soundwaves, instead of following along every lyric. I wanted to derive the feeling in the singers’ faces and voices directly, to exist in the palpable emotion more than knowing every word. Maybe I missed out on some crucial context, but also there was one piece that describes wanting to eat a loved one like a pale almond, so at least for that one it could be argued that it was more worth it to not have had the reference words.

      Dr. Ballantyne, a bass-baritone, carried a deep resonating voice with him that seemed perfect for his selections. His face expressed a true sadness, longing, fulfillment, as well as anger. He had committed to this music, and he knew how to portray the exact emotion embedded in each note. I felt pulled into each mood his characters exhibited. His wife, Laura Kimmel, a mezzo-soprano, sang a few solos as well as one duet with him and had a distinctly opposite voice. She seamlessly reached notes higher than I thought possible while shifting between vibrato and stagnant vocals. Her talent was blatant, and I could poignantly feel her earnest wistfulness from my spot in the pews up above her.

      The star pianist of the recital, Dr. Kristie Born, exhibited such an awesome power in her playing. The delicateness of her hand placement on the piano keys paired perfectly with the swelling intensity of the music. There was a single long shadow cast by the overhead lights that swayed and extended with her fervent moving. It perfectly paralleled the harmonious music that supported the beautiful singing.

      This recital exhibited such a moving display of soul. Comparing my thoughts with my friends who came with me, I learned and could feel that watching this performance was a completely unique experience for each of us. Hearing singing in a different language with no reading to understand the words is a perfect way to better connect with the musicians’ emotions as well as your own.