Friends, family and classmates gathered for a musical and spiritual journey as a Franciscan University of Steubenville sacred music major performed his junior organ recital at St. Peter Catholic Church on the night of Dec. 2.
Luke Ponce, a sacred music major with an organ concentration, captivated the audience as his chosen pieces communicated peace, battle, triumph and pain. Ponce’s notes in the recital program gave the audience insight into the stories behind the pieces, and a simple reception followed the performance.
Ponce’s performances of compositions such as Felix Mendelssohn’s “Sonata No. 3 in A major” and Bach’s “Toccata in D minor, ‘Dorian’” truly manifested his talent on the organ. His mastery shone through clear pedal work, an impressive dynamic range and beautiful overtones.
The captivated audience hung onto every note. Freshman Madelyn Schweitzer said, “I feel like all of the songs really took me through a journey.”
The piece “Archangel Suite,” composed by Craig Phillips, presented a beautiful auditory image of the stories of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, the archangels venerated by the Anglican Church, to which the composer belongs.
The performance of the Archangel Gabriel’s Movement was stunning. Not long into the piece, one could nearly hear the angel’s voice as he announced the good news of the Savior’s birth to Mary.
The final portion of the night featured three pieces composed by French composer Jehan Alain, entitled “Trois Pièces.” While the first two lulled the crowd into relaxation, the final piece evoked the emotions of a heartfelt cry of agony. Composed after the death of Alain’s sister, the song communicated Alain’s grief as mild, harmonic phrases gave way to phrases of dissonant suffering and confusion.
Voice major Matt Wagner, senior, said, “This was a really exciting opportunity to get to see the music program in action, especially to see one of the most talented students in the music programs really give their all.”
Rose McGrath, a Franciscan alumna of the sacred music program, particularly enjoyed the piece “Le jardin suspendu.”
“It was so tranquil and so peaceful,” said McGrath, “but this rhythmic energy created a glitter that just sprinkled over everything. He was so uplifting in his performance, and I just felt so drawn into prayer. It was beautiful.”
Ponce ended the night pleased to have accomplished his impressive performance and excited to perform again in the future. “I am ready to start preparing for my senior recital and the future beyond that,” said Ponce.