A & E Editor
Mary Beth Bjork
When looking around the audience, one could notice feet tapping, smiles growing, and hands clapping along to the beat—to the beat of the jazz ensemble that took place on April 25, 2012 in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center. “We have a pretty loyal following and the audience always seems to enjoy not only the music but they enjoy the relationship they have with the students,” Don Baldini, professor of music said.
“Last night we said goodbye to four seniors, two of which were twins. We’ve all watched them grow not only as young men, but also as performers and musicians. I think the audience responded strongly to that concept,” Baldini said.
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Reflecting upon the past Baldini said, “Through the years this has happened many times, they get attached to a particular vocalist and latch onto and from the audience standpoint I think there’s a real bond which I think is one of the things college is supposed to do, make that bond with the community.”
Baldini also said, “People come up to me all the time and people ask me whatever happened to some student they had a fondness to. I expect people will ask me that about the Robinsons, those two boys that have been in the band four years now. That’s what the audience takes away.” And what the audience takes away is the message the ensemble wished to convey. Baldini said that the message is that this group has a good time playing music with one another. However, this ensemble’s music is one that most of this group is unfamiliar with. But what is unfamiliar allows these musicians to grow and develop as an artist.
“Exposing them to this music in an era that they are completely away from age wise is very important especially in music to relate to things that are in the past to go forward in the future and improve upon them,” Baldini said. The music performed was not only unique to the musicians but also to the audience members as well. However, this unique aspect is what caught the attention of the audience members.
Senior Joe McConaughy said, “I thought it was pretty sweet it really engaged the audience in a different way than you see with a lot of the other performances you see at Redfern.” McConaughy said that “Bellavia,” originally composed by Chuck Mangione, was his favorite performance of the night—a performance that was unique in its own. “‘Bellavia’ had a great balance with it almost like it was a classical performance. It had that encore at the end, that was awesome,” McConaughy said. However, for some attendees the jazz ensemble was more than just a unique performance—for some the jazz ensemble demonstrated their passion for music. Junior Katie Joyce said, “ I thought it was really good. It was great. They put in a lot of effort and it showed. You could tell that everyone put their heart into it tonight. This is some of the seniors’ last show. I thought George’s (Loring) conducting was really cool. It’s cool to incorporate students because it’s something they want to go on and do in their lives.” But this performance can only be derived from hard work and dedication. Musician Rob Skrocki said that the rehearsal process was a long and dedicated process, but the end result was well worth the hardwork. For Skrocki it was important for him to hit all his notes as well as maintaining a good balance with the rest of the group.
“The Keene Music Department is doing good things and everyone should come check us out. It’s fun, exciting, and jazz. Music is alive and well at Keene State College,” Skrocki said. However, developing a theme that was cohesive and maintained throughout the ensemble was a challenge. “We’ve done Latin things throughout the years, we’ve done dozens and dozens of different themes and they’ve always worked out well, but this time we thought let’s do some music we like,” Baldini said.
In order to make this the performance that Baldini envisioned, it was important to incorporate a magnitude of various instruments. Baldini said that one piece featured the trumpet section, while another featured the saxophones. “I wanted to feature those two boys, that’s how it evolved. I didn’t intend to not have a theme but it just happened. It worked out really well,” Baldini said. This vision of what the theme of the performance should be met Baldini’s goals for the last performance. Baldini said he wanted to emphasize what it meant to deliver a professional performance because most of his students were graduating and on their way to become music teachers themselves.
“You draw from your experiences that’s probably more true in music and the arts in general, than a lot of other subjects. You are a product of the environment you’ve been exposed to,” Baldini said.
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