On Monday, August 25, Shorter’s Brooks Chapel was graced with a special array of sounds. Specifically, the new semester was being ushered in by the music department’s annual faculty gala, and from the beginning the performance was engaging.
From the audience response it was clear to see that the faculty gala, which has been a tradition on the hill for about a decade, was a special time for all those involved. Professors and adjuncts took the opportunity to showcase their own esteemed talents, and the students were active to help the event run as smoothly as possible.
The chance to perform among peers for the faculty is special in more ways than one. As dean of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Dr. Alan Wingard, said, the gala is important because “it is an opportunity to showcase our new faculty. Also, it gives us a chance to hear the level of talent in our adjunct professors…they are all phenomenal performers.”
For the music professors, it is a source of camaraderie for the department as a whole. As Dr. Frederick Tarant said, “All music students must perform; therefore, we feel that their teachers should ‘set the stage’ for a year of great music-making…. My supreme joy is being able to experience my colleagues performing music with such professional skill. It is thrilling to me to know that I have the privilege of working with such gifted musicians.”
Additionally, junior music major Kyle Coleman said that the gala has a special significance even for those who are not performing. “As a music student, the gala is my favorite concert of the entire year. Not only am I reminded of the fantastic performer’s spirit each of the faculty members possess, but on a humorous note, I get to see them ‘ham it up’.”
The performance itself included a wide variety of musical pieces, from emotive organ pieces to French duets, and even included a rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in which the audience was invited to participate with simple instruments and commonplace items. Nonetheless, in each performance, the faculty demonstrated a definitive connection with the song.
However, such an eclectic and well-done performance does not simply come together on its own. It requires substantial emotional presence and preparation. Tarant said that each faculty member must select the pieces they would like to perform and practice for weeks during the summer.
After the gala, Coleman said “I enjoyed the concert as a whole more than I would have [any] individual performance. Without every act, you do not compose the diversity you do when all the acts are compiled together.”