McKenna Liebenow Performs Senior Recital

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MISHAWAKA--McKenna Liebenow, graduating senior, performed her senior recital Saturday, Feb. 20. As a percussionist, she used a range of instruments, from a marimba to a floor tom, and she played a range of pieces written from 1965 to 2000 by a diverse group of composers. 

The recital started with the Dean of Arts and Science Janna McLean, Ph.D., introducing Liebenow and leading everyone in prayer. The recital then went a little dark and the lights came up in the house and the stage. Liebenow appeared with a mask and dress combo of purple sparkles. Roland Kinsman, the lights person for the recital, considered the themes of each piece and wanted to provide the appropriate mood for each one. Pieces he found striking he put red lights on and mellowed-out pieces took a cooler tone with blues.  

Many of Liebenow’s pieces were played on the marimba, her primary instrument. A marimba is comprised of wooden bars resembling a piano; these bars are then struck with mallets, wooden sticks with yarn on the ends. The first two pieces were on the marimba. Liebenow’s mother described the first piece as the “plunka-plunka” piece. She changed the sticks for each movement, green to blue then back to green again.  

The second marimba piece Liebenow performed has a story behind it. A graduate school professor challenged Liebenow with this piece, saying it would be impossible. Liebenow took that challenge and ran with it. It is a very strenuous piece that requires a lot of stamina. Her father, who called this piece his favorite, said it took a lot out of McKenna. 

“This is the most athletic recital I’ve seen,” Liebenow’s father said. 

The third piece was a thunderous display on a timpani. This piece was accompanied by Rob Rhein D.M.A. He said he has only accompanied a timpani piece once before, and the piano part was lackluster in his opinion. For this one, he was challenged, and it provide some lyric passages he enjoyed.  

The fourth was another display on marimba. The second movement of this piece was interesting because the mallet colors were different. She had two red mallets in her left hand, and one blue and one red in her right. When asked about that, Liebenow said it was to bring out the melody with a harder mallet. The blue mallet is harder to bring out a unique timbre for the piece.  

The next piece, “Suomineito,” tells of the time that its composer, Zivkovic, spent in Finland. This piece was especially enjoyed by Liebenow’s boyfriend, Mike Lee.  

“It put chills down my spine; it felt like a night scene,” Lee said.  

Liebenow finished with the piece she was looking forward to the most, “Cold Pressed.” This piece featured five movements and 19 instruments.  

This recital had a special meaning for Liebenow because she was scared that it might not happen. She has been dealing with wrist pain for a while due to tendonitis, and she talked to her physical therapist about her concerns. The therapist recommended that Liebenow go through with the recital, but then take it easier going forward.  

“I was excited, but worried, going in,” Liebenow said. “I’m glad it’s over. I’m so thankful.” 

Liebenow plans on going to physical therapy every other day for rehabilitation for her tendonitis. 

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