Members of the Keene Jazz Orchestra performing as part of the PRISM Showcase of Music Alumni event on March 25 in the Main Theatre. The event commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Redfern Arts Center.

 

This year, the Redfern Arts Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

To commemorate this anniversary, the Keene State music department hosted the PRISM Showcase of Music Alumni event on March 25. The event brought together current KSC music students, faculty and alumni to celebrate the anniversary year. Over 70 music alumni returned to commemorate the occasion.

“It’s really a great celebration of music past and present,” Music Department Chair Dr. Sandra Howard said.

KSC’s Concert Choir and Concert Band joined together for a performance of German composer Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” Also performing alongside the two ensembles were current members of the KSC music faculty, including Howard. 

Howard said giving faculty the opportunity to perform alongside their students can bridge separation between faculty and students. “I think sometimes across campus, it can be easy to feel really separate from your professor as a student… So this is a way that we’re kind of leveling the playing field, literally,” Howard said.

Also joining the ensembles were Keene State music alumni, ranging from the class of 1980 to the recent graduating class of 2021.

Among the returning alumni was JoAnne Mead, who was a student at the college when the Redfern Arts Center opened. Prior to the opening of the Redfern, there was no arts center on the KSC campus. The Redfern Arts Center provided a space for all music performances and courses to happen under one roof.

“There was no arts center at all, so 40 years ago, I was at Keene State when we walked through the brand new doors of the Redfern Arts Center and moved into our new space, it was pretty exciting. So the 40th anniversary of that is something that I am so thrilled and honored to be part of,” Mead said.

Mead performed in a quartet with current music faculty members Morgan Bothwell and Pamela Stevens, as well as alum Kirk Bobkowski. The quartet performed “Benedictus” from Mozart’s “Requiem.”

Following opening remarks from KSC President Dr. Melinda Treadwell, the Keene Jazz Orchestra performed under the direction of Dr. Steve Cady. The set included two world premiere pieces, including Cady’s arrangement of “Rosetta” by American jazz pianist Earl Hines.

“I’ve known [“Rosetta”] since I was young. I’ve always liked the tune. And to my knowledge, there’s no such thing as a big band arrangement of it,” Cady said.

The Keene Jazz Orchestra also performed selections such as “Amad” by American composer Duke Ellington, an arrangement of “Touch Me” by The Doors and “Beat 70” by American jazz guitarist Pat Metheney.

The PRISM Showcase of Music Alumni event also featured several alumni solo performances, including 2020 graduate Will Wright. Wright performed his original composition “Sonata for Scott in c minor” in memory of former music faculty member Scott Mullet, who passed away unexpectedly in January 2018.

“It was just really hard because I had just started working with him about six months before and he was giving me so many opportunities and just teaching me so much,” Wright said.

The 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Ted Mann, a current member of the music faculty. In an email sent to The Equinox, Mann said he was, “very surprised but deeply honored  and moved to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.”

Junior Andrew Cropper, a member of the Concert Band, said the event displayed the best of what Redfern has to offer. “It’s just to showcase kind of how the Redfern has evolved since the beginning… and really how strong we are as an ensemble and how grateful we are to get to play music altogether,” Cropper said.

40 years after its initial opening, the Redfern Arts Center has become a central part of the college experience for KSC’s music students. “The Redfern just was the main part of college for me. So just being able to come back and celebrate it is really, really cool,” Wright said.

Alum Sean Meagher said the Redfern Arts Center brings the art community together in an area that often feels isolated. 

“The Redfern Arts Center has a way of bringing people together and we do that through performances, we do that through art exhibits and dance, whether it be music, musical theater, all of the art forms coming together at Redfern brings us together as a community and I’m very excited to come back and be a part of it again,” Meagher said.

 

Caitlin Howard can be contacted at

choward@kscequinox.com

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