Music department celebrates century milestone

By Heidi Cho 
Arts & Entertainment Editor

The College’s Music Department celebrated its 100th anniversary over two days, Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28, with stunning performances. Students, faculty and alumni came together at the student showcase concert, reception and gala to show off their talent.

Students deliver an enchanting anniversary concert performance. (Randell Carrido / Staff Photographer)

Professor Joshua Roach conducted the wind ensemble for the first segment of the student showcase concert and put together a repertoire that carried the audience through 100 years of music.

The concert began with pieces from the 1910s. “The Vanquished Army” started the audience off on a two-day journey with a cheery marching song inspired by World War I, according to Roach, who is also the wind ensemble and band conductor.

A later piece, “Music for Prague 1968” by Karel Husa is a regularly performed piece by the band, according to senior music education major Ryan Galik.

The piece was inspired by the dashes and dots of morse code used heavily during the Russian invasion of Prague. This staccato-like beat gave the piece an untraditional harmony emphasized by sounds similar to that of abandoned bells in the wind. Prague was a city known for its bells, according to Roach.

The music kept the audience in tight suspense. Husa replicated the inspiration of his song perfectly, and the wind ensemble performed the tension of Prague falling under the Russians and martial law perfectly with soft playing, tense silence and cacophonous eruptions of sound.

Michael Catherine Isnardi came to see their daughter, sophomore music education major Sophia Isnardi, play the flute. Michael Isnardi commented on how well the pieces represented musical styles over the years.

“It really gave homage to WWI,” Isnardi said. “All the instrumentalists and featured soloists are doing an absolute fabulous job.”

After an intermission, the TCNJ Collegium Musicum captivated the audience with a range of songs.

Junior English major Julien Blanchard was the self-described scat soloist for the most light-hearted piece of the night, “My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth” by P.D.Q. Bach.

Blanchard would close his eyes and keep vocalizing by himself, long after his fellow chorale members had stopped to stare at him until Blanchard caught on.

The vocalists would sing as if they were at at a formal ball, “She looketh like a jewel,” then switch into singing as if they were in a rowdy tavern, “and smelleth like a mule.”

The next piece took itself more seriously. “Past Life Melodies” was a departure into pure sound with only ethereal vocalizations that echoed throughout the theatre.

“It was pure music,” said Jason Lubrano (’04), an alumnus collaborative pianist at the College. Lubrano has accompanied several of the College’s Chorale’s renditions.

John P. Leonard, the director of choral activities, chose the repertoire that would best showcase the students’ talents and show off the chorale’s versatility.

“The vocal groups and group harmonies were very tight,” Isnardi said. “The dynamics were very expressive.”

Meaghanne McBride, a sophomore music major, enjoyed being an audience member that night.

“My brain is melting — in a good way,” McBride said about the energy and passion displayed at the student showcase concert.

Suzanne Pickman, the coordinator of vocal studies, toasted the music department at the reception in the Brower Student Center after Friday’s performance. Pickman has worked at the College for 34 years.

Pickman first raised her glass of champagne to the students “for confounding us, for giving us someone to teach.”

The next day, the Kendall Main Stage Theatre was almost completely packed for the final event, a gala.

Audience members stood as the chorus and orchestra finished off the two-day event with the College’s “Alma Mater” by Franklin Grapel.

Chris Cancglin was excited to be a part of the performance as a freshman music education major.

“Being able to perform with alumni … and over 150 people was like an astonishing experience,” Cancglin said. “It was an amazing getting to see alumni come back.”

Barbara Santoro, a member of the gala’s planning committee, hoped that the event would further connect the College’s undergraduates and alumni through the music department.

“It was not only exciting, it was beautifully done,” Santoro said.

Maurice Hall, the dean of the School of Arts and Communication, appreciated the performances as well.

“Thrilling, moving and really wonderful,” Hall said. “I look forward to a hundred more years of exactly this kind of virtuoso performance from the music department.”