Music students get chance to perform with special guests

Dana School of Music practice for a classical performance featuring performances by vocalist Jeanie Darnell and pianist Michael Baron.

By Kaitlyn McCarthy

Youngstown State University welcomed special guests Jeanie Darnell and Michael Baron to the stage for a classical music performance Friday, Sept. 24. Students from Dana School of Music got the chance to practice and perform with the guests.

Darnell is a soprano vocalist who has performed across the world and is currently the head of the vocal studies program at Florida Gulf Coast University. Baron is an award-winning pianist who performs in dozens of concerts each year and works with Darnell as the head of the keyboard studies program at FGCU. Both of their talents were included in the performance. 

“The two of us, for the music that is voice and piano, get together and we rehearse, and we work out our own interpretations,” Baron said.

Both Darnell and Baron worked with Dana School of Music students prior to the show. During rehearsal, Baron would play piano with the students to teach them tricks on how to make their music sound better. 

“It’s fun to work with the students here and to experience a new landscape for a while,” Darnell said. 

The recital was meant to exemplify the talent of the students from Dana School of Music and the skills taught by Baron and Darnell during practices. The performance consisted mostly of classical music. 

“We are doing mostly pieces from the very rich, romantic era. And it’s music full of passion, beauty and excitement,” Baron said.

Darnell wanted people to see this recital as a relaxing place for audience members. She sang the songs as Baron played the piano.

“Our society today is always so busy, they’re traveling from one place to the next or working. It’s nice to go to a concert where you can sit down for an hour and just focus on what’s happening in the concert. Forget about your problems,” Darnell said.

Both guests talked about their excitement to perform at YSU ahead of the concert.

“I’m excited to perform for the Youngstown audience tonight with my friend Michael Baron. We’ve done a lot of concerts together and it’s always a pleasure to work with him,” Darnell said.

Students showed off new skills learned from Jeanie Darnell and Michael Baron.

Baron and Darnell have performed in Youngstown prior to Friday’s recital and both have contributed to past shows.

“It’s always a pleasure to come to Youngstown with the very appreciative public,” Baron said. 

Misook Yun, professor of voice at YSU, hoped the audience shared the same excitement that she had for the recital.

“I hope people are not afraid of classical music and enjoy it,” she said. 

Like many other events, the performance schedule was changed by COVID-19. Both performers were supposed to perform in 2020, but came a year later to ensure safety and to follow protocols.

“We actually set up the dates, but COVID happened and we had to cancel and reschedule,” Yun said.

The performance took months of preparation from Darnell and Baron. Each worked individually and brought their ideas together to create the performance.

“We have to learn our notes, work out an interpretation, we have to think very carefully,” Baron said.

Though many attended, if you missed out, don’t worry — this likely won’t be the last time YSU will welcome Darnell and Baron to its stage.