By Veronica Flesher
Emotions were high in the Mayo Concert Hall on Sunday, Feb.10 as the Music Students Association put on the Zujkowski American Heart Association Benefit Concert in memory of senior music education major Jason Zujkowski, who died last November.
Thirteen different groups performed, including a saxophone quartet, the trumpet ensemble, the clarinet choir, TCNJ Trentones, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, TCNJ Treblemakers and some individual performers.
“The concert was a celebration of life,” said Dean of the School of Arts and Communication Maurice Hall. Hall emphasized the need for friendship and art as a response to grief times of hardship.
The performers, who are music students at the College, wore all black with a small red ribbon pin in support of the American Heart Association, as Zujkowski passed away from a heart condition.
The show opened with Zujkowski’s former saxophone quartet playing one of his favorite jazz standards, “Blue Bassa.”
A member of the saxophone quartet and freshman music education major Keith So remembers Zujkowski as a great performer and friend.
“He put everything into every ounce of music and made us all better people,” So said. Jason was such a wholesome person. “He had such a passion for music.”
The pieces ranged from a 1700s hymn to a Kanye West song. Many of the songs performed were pieces that Zujkowski had enjoyed, such as “Naima” by John Coltrane and “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky.
Other pieces performed in the first half included a violin performance and a euphonium.
The first half of the night ended with an emotional performance from the College’s acapella group, The Trentones, who covered “Run to You” by Pentatonix and “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West.
“‘This is a God dream,’” They sang. “‘This is everything.’”
The second act opened up with a surprise performance by musicians Michael Ray and Laranah Phipps-Ray of the outside jazz group, Michael Ray & The Cosmic Krewe. The duo had performed with Zujkowski at his last performance this past fall before he passed away. They performed an original piece with Ray playing the trumpet and Phipps-Ray scatting and singing.
“It’s really special,” Phipps-Ray said of performing at the concert. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
As he played his trumpet, Phipps-Ray sang, “We love you, Jason.”
The show came to a powerful end with the all-female acapella group, the TCNJ Treblemakers, performing “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga.
Among the audience members were fellow students, President Kathryn Foster and Zujkowski’s family.
All proceeds from the ticket purchases went to the American Heart Association in Zujkowski’s name.