Jeralayne Ruiz, a third-year graduate student studying music therapy as well as voice performance and pedagogy, presented a vocal performance at her graduate student recital.
The recital, Ruiz said, is part of a requirement for her degree as a performance major, which is a provision for all undergraduate and graduate performance majors.
Ruiz has been involved with music since childhood, beginning with piano at age 5. She has been taking voice lessons since high school and attended Ohio University as an undergraduate student studying music therapy. Ruiz is now pursuing her master’s degree at OU and is completing her final year.
The graduate recital took place Sunday at 2 p.m. at Glidden Hall, with a live-stream for virtual viewing.
Ruiz said the pieces in her voice performance were specifically chosen between her and her voice instructors to construct a representative and holistic image of her ability and the creativity that resonated within them.
“My voice teacher would give me a list of songs to listen to, and I would listen to them and maybe sing through some of them and see what fit in my voice and what I thought was really interesting not only musically but story-wise with the text and find what clicked with me and what I wanted to perform,” Ruiz said. “So, it was collaborative in that way.”
Prior to attending the recital, Ruiz said her adrenaline for the performance was widely influenced by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on live performances. Due to social distancing and health precautions, many performances were halted or shifted to online formats to accommodate safety concerns. However, this year, the recitals all had a live component, allowing Ruiz and other students to return to the beloved stage.
“I'm just so honored and privileged to be able to do it in person,” Ruiz said. “After a year of very little live music performances, It's just nice to be able to be in the same room as people making music. Concerts and performances just being together making music again and experiencing music together is a privilege that we didn't know was a privilege until we lost it for so long, so it's nice to get back to it.”
The most important aspect of this experience, Ruiz articulated, was that her parents, who traveled from out of state, were able to attend the show in person. This opportunity allowed Ruiz to demonstrate her craft in front of her strongest support system.
“My parents are able to come, and they live in New York,” Ruiz said. “So, being able to have them there to support me is also exciting. Had I done it last year or the year before, they wouldn't have been able to come out due to COVID. S,o it was nice that this all worked out in the way that it did, and it meant a lot.”
After her recital, Ruiz emphasized the importance of not only the in-person performance but the inclusion of a virtual component, which allowed her show to reach a larger audience.
“It’s just a joy to be able to make music and share music in a room full of people,” Ruiz said. “And I think one nice thing about these recitals now is that we can have both people attend in person as well as online. I had a large support system watch the live stream as well as people attend in person, which was just really, really fabulous.”
While Ruiz is still finishing up her graduate degree, she said she plans on continuing her work as a music therapist but would still love to embark on further performance opportunities, much like the recent recital, after she’s finished.
Regardless of her future aspirations, however, Ruiz said the recital was a fulfilling experience to see this long-term project come to fruition.
“It was such a joy,” Ruiz said. “I (have been) working so hard on this program and finally having a finished product and being able to share it with my friends and family and peers and colleagues — it's just such an honor.”