Musician’s Union event showcases students’ musical talents

By Heather Fabritze
Elm Staff Writer

In conjunction with the Washington College Department of Music, the Musician’s Union presented their fall showcase on Nov. 19 in Hotchkiss Recital Hall in the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.

Starting at 6 p.m., the showcase featured solo and group performances from various student members of the union. It finished off with an improvisational piece from their Jam Band.

Jam Band is a subset of MU that meets for an hour a week and involves improvisational jazz-based music. It is informal and allows for musicians to express themselves in a way that music sheets do not ordinarily allow.

Performances included senior Maggie Poppiti’s performance of “Nothing New” by Taylor Swift with guitar and vocals; freshman Jevon Small’s rendition of “Sleepers, Awake” by Johann Bach and the “Super Mario Bros Theme” on saxophone; freshman Darrell Rideout’s saxophone performance of “Autumn Leaves” and “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis and Nat King Cole, respectively, with accompaniment by junior Alex Palmer on piano; and sophomore Hunter Ward’s rendition of “Toccata and Fugue” in D Minor on piano.

The showcase, which, according to MU President and junior Faithlin Hunter, will occur twice each semester, prides itself on a low-stakes environment for performing music. Formal concert wear is not required and audience participation is encouraged.

MU treasurer and junior Stephen Marvel, who participated in the Jam Band segment on bass guitar, feels that this informal nature reflects the idea of the showcase as a whole.

“It’s less of a concert and more of a cabaret,” Marvel said. “And a cabaret, in its purest form, is meant to not be taken seriously. It’s about fun, it’s about people sharing what they do. One of the biggest parts about an MU showcase is that people can go up and perform with an instrument or voice and they don’t even have to be good at it, if they’re just willing to perform.”

Any student is welcome to join regardless of musical experience or their major. One doesn’t even have to know how to play an instrument to join, as long as they’re willing to listen.

Club meetings, which take place every other Monday in Hotchkiss at 6:30 p.m., often involve discussions of different genres of music and general music-related pop culture.

Hunter feels the best changes that MU’s new executive board have made involve the lack of exclusivity within the club.

“Coming into the leadership position, I wanted to make sure that all musicians on campus, regardless of involvement in other musical things or talent, could feel welcome in the club,” Hunter said. “Because, otherwise, it would be very closed off for musicians that only were the top of the top. I feel as though this year our group is very diverse in instrumentation and just overall enthusiasm for the group.”

Hunter, during the showcase, performed an original piece titled “Lonely with You” with piano and vocals. 

MU Vice President and sophomore Sarah Poirier, who performed two pieces on cello during the showcase, feels that MU makes it possible for more musicians to feel confident in sharing original pieces or talents, primarily due to audience support.

“Music is a great way to come together and bond, and it’s a good escape,” Poirier said. “It gets you thinking on a higher level, too. Audience members should come out and support because musicians…are always looking for support everywhere…So, it’s always good, especially in a small college setting, to get just a little bit of audience support.” 

The MU executive board encourages any student interested in music to participate in one of their regular meetings or Jam Band sessions, and to attend their upcoming showcases in the spring semester.

Photos by Kayla Thornton
Featured and Embedded Photos Caption: Performing in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, members of Musicians’ Union gather to share their love for music in their first in-person show since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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