Kei Riggins, a senior in vocal performance with a creative writing minor from California, performed her versatile senior vocal recital titled ‘Raised,’ which was different from other recitals because she acted out opera scenes, photo, artwork and sang in Spanish, Italian, German, and French.
Riggins said, “It’s not a regular, boring, classical recital. It’s something more.” Before the recital even started, all of the programs ran out because of the number of those in attendance. Dressed in a stunning sangria red velvet dress and beautiful curly locks, Riggins’ recital was both entertaining and moving.
Gunnar Norton, a sophomore in exercise science from Arizona said the performance was heartfelt. “The opera songs were super cool. For my humanities class last year we had to watch operas and I thought it was really boring. However, Kei did an amazing job, I really loved her performance.”
Brittney Norton, a sophomore in English from Arizona, said she and Riggins served together as companions in the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission. She added Gunnar and her are big Kei Riggins fans and they have been to every one of her performances since attending school here. Brittney Norton said, “Kei has a really powerful voice and there’s a lot of spirit behind it. It has been cool to see her develop and see how she has grown in this talent.”
After her tearful finale, she took a few moments to thank and present leis to her vocal teacher, Melissa Glenn and accompanist Jennifer Duerden. In her program she wrote a paragraph thanking her parents, Glenn, and both Brother and Sister Duerden.
Darren Duerden, music professor said, “Kei is spectacular. She has been my featured vocalist not only because she can sing in Spanish and English but also because she is an amazing vocalist. She has a really nice stage persona and she is extremely well suited for the Latin and Jazz genre. Her and Josh have been two of the best students I have ever had.”
Riggins said before attending BYU-Hawaii, she attended school in California and studied music. Her voice teacher told her that the only person getting in the way of being successful was herself. “When I came here it just felt right. I felt like Heavenly Father wanted me to be in vocal performance. Had I not stuck with singing, maybe I wouldn’t be doing it today. So yeah it was a teacher who told me to knock it off and take it seriously.”
She said being insecure has been the hardest part in her journey with music. “My biggest challenge has been self-doubt and self-esteem because it’s a really competitive world and even if you’re really good you might not make it. As a musician you put so much effort for so little money and gratification. Times like when you perform and no one congratulates you…Even if one person likes your music, it makes it worth it.”
The evening was a family affair as Riggins’ parents, Andy and Sandra Riggins travelled all the way from San Diego and were seated in the very front along with Riggins’ fiancé, Josh Wallace.
Andy Riggins said, “Kei’s performance was absolutely amazing. This kind of experience is an example of what we learn in the temple about having joy in your posterity. We are so proud of her and all the people who have helped her along the way, all of the talented people at this school.”
Sandra Riggins said, “Kei started singing before she started talking. As a baby she would lie on my bed and play with her voice. She didn’t know what she was doing but she definitely showed her talent from an early age.”
Riggins’ selection of songs really showcased the range of her voice. As she hit the soprano notes her pitch, the sound resonated through the entire auditorium. A slideshow presentation on the right wall of the auditorium gave the synopsis, origin, and quotes related to each individual song selection. Photographs and artwork also depicted the visual beauty behind the music.
In addition to having Jennifer Duerden accompany her on the piano, Riggins also featured fellow students. Her performance of ‘Scherzano sul tuo volto’ featured mezzo soprano Sola Oh and ‘Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5’ featured violinist, Cynthia Johnson. The finale, ‘No llores por mi Argentina’ showcased three members sitting in the audience who stood up and sang vocalizing notes with Riggins for a few measures.
With graduation and a wedding coming shortly Riggins said she feels emotional about leaving BYUH. “I’m sad. I’ve come to love the professors and my classmates here. It’s scary to know I’ll have to audition for things and put myself out there. I feel so comfortable here.”
However she said she wants to keep making music in her future. “I am really blessed to be marrying a musician. I wanna do other things, I want to write and go to grad school.” Riggins and Wallace will be moving to Spain in the Fall as Wallace attends grad school there.