The faculty of the music department amazed its own students and members of the campus community at the annual TCNJ Music Faculty Gala on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Sponsored by the Music Educators National Conference, American String Teachers Association, American Choral Directors Association and the music department, the show was one night of classy, melodious, first-class enjoyment and learning.
The Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall was filled with not only music lovers, but also people from all parts of New Jersey. The elegant setting ran parallel to the sophistication of the performers as the night began.
Starting the night off, David DiGiacobbe, adjunct instructor of music, who played the flute, and Michael Sheadel, who played the piano, performed a four-piece sonata by Robert Muczynski. They set the mood of the night with their high quality work and their ability to keep the audience amazed through the intense beginning, softer third piece and the impressive finale, leaving the stage to thunderous applause.
After hearing this first piece, there was no doubt as to the extraordinary talent to come. Dr. Robert Young McMahan, a professor of music and also the area coordinator of music theory, composition, ear training and classical accordion, graced the stage with his accordion along with horn player Linda Dempf, music and media librarian.
This duo was an interesting pair and the audience anxiously awaited the piece composed by McMahan. As Dempf and McMahan were completing the three-part piece, she began to walk offstage, which left McMahan to face the music alone.
While continuing to play his accordion, McMahan rose and started walking offstage, bringing a bit of comedy to this event, which one would think had a serious decorum. He added a light touch to the event that led to a roaring standing ovation when he returned with Dempf.
Katie Seymour, senior music education major, was amazed by the piece that McMahan composed. “I had him in a class about music theory and to see him compose and perform this piece made us think about what he was thinking when he put together this piece,” Seymour said.
Onstage, faculty members employed the theories and the ideas that they teach students in the classroom, presenting an alternate way of teaching the students. Seymour said, “Even though I’m not in his class anymore, this was still a great learning experience.”
The music did not die throughout the night. Every faculty member, with a different instrument or talent, proved to the campus community that they are more than qualified to teach their classes due to their animated and vibrant performances.
Suzanne Hickman, associate professor of music and area coordinator of vocal studies, sang an Italian piece, “Una voce poco fa” by Gioachino Rossini, accompanied by the pianist, adjunct instructor of music Joanna Chao. The audience did not need to understand the words of the song, for her energy and vitality brought the meaning to them.
“It’s pretty awesome that Dr. Hickman – head of the department – is up there singing. We get to see a different side of her,” Seymour said.
Indeed, the College community was able to see the passion and ardor within the music department. The sweet sounds and extraordinary talent proved that the students being taught here are taught by the best.