In Keene, New Hampshire, finding diversity can be challenging. However, the Keene State College (KSC) Latin American Ensemble, “Cotopaxi,” brought culture to the Alumni Recital Hall stage on Wednesday, April 12.
Collaborating with KSC’s Guitar Orchestra and Chamber Singers, the recital series offered a variety of musical stylings.
The music was chosen by Professor and Director Jose Lezcano and several pieces such as, “Two Canticles: Song of Maria and Song of Simeon,” were performed for the first time.
A majority of songs were in Spanish and some in Swedish, which created a large obstacle for the singers involved.
KSC junior and Chamber Singers member Matthew McGinnis said he was grateful to bring this challenging performance to the college.
“It was really special,” McGinnis said. “We usually perform as just the Chamber Singers, so getting a chance tonight to be really collaborative was really fun. I’m glad we got to get out of our bubble.”
McGinnis said his favorite song he performed was the finale, “Berusa Er!” The piece ended with the students bursting into dance, while Director Dr. Sandra Howard jumped right in with them.
“Learning Swedish was an adventure, but the piece is very rhythmic and challenging but we had a lot of fun with it,” McGinnis said.
KSC senior and Guitar Orchestra member Mark McCarthy said while the recital was worthwhile, it required a lot of additional practice.
Finding the time for all three ensembles to rehearse and getting used to the different styles took some patience, according to McCarthy.
“We’ve done stuff like this, like last year we did a concert with the concert band, but it was never like this where we were hosting our own concert with another big ensemble. It was definitely a lot of extra time then when it’s just us,” McCarthy said.
The collaboration was able to draw in more people, McCarthy added. “It was kind of long for a concert, so hopefully people didn’t mind that, but this was definitely the most people we have seen at a Guitar Orchestra concert,” McCarthy said.
Of the audience members was KSC junior and former Chamber Singers member Tim Peterson, who said he had to leave the group for academic reasons.
Even though he could not perform with them this semester, Peterson said he still enjoys attending the recitals.
“I think it is interesting what they are doing with the Guitar Ensemble [orchestra] because I have never seen them perform before,” Peterson said.
“This was a really cool collaboration between the groups I’d like to see again.”
McCarthy, Peterson and McGinnis said they were glad with the turnout, but all wished more students would attend music department events.
“It’s so important for students to come see their peers and see the work they are doing,” McGinnis said.
Peterson added, “It’s all part of the liberal arts education. If you are only sticking to your major, you really aren’t getting a whole understanding of what’s out there. The more you learn about things outside of your field, the more well-rounded of a citizen you will be.”
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org