On Feb. 20 the Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University presented the first concert held in Eastern’s new state-of-the art Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). The historical concert, featured vocal and instrumental ensembles composed of Eastern students, faculty, staff and local community members.
“It was an absolute pleasure to be with the students, faculty, staff and community for this historic event,” said David Belles, conductor of the Eastern Concert Chorale and Eastern Chamber Singers. “I spoke with all of them and asked for a moment of silence to think of the magnitude of what was about to happen as they brought their sounds to the audience, and made the notes of the composers come alive for the first time in the moment and space.”
Eastern’s Music Program supports a variety of musical ensembles, which are open to all Eastern students regardless of major, including the Eastern Concert Chorale, Concert Band, Chamber Singers, Wind Ensemble, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Opera Workshop and Percussion Ensemble. All performed at the inaugural concert.
The Eastern Concert Chorale is the largest vocal ensemble at Eastern and focuses on choral and orchestral masterworks, as well as shorter choral selections. The ensemble performed excerpts from “Come Ye, sons of Art” by Henry Purcell, “Better is Peace” from Armed Man Mass by Karl Jenkins and “When in Our Music God is Glorified” by Charles V. Stanford.
“It was exciting to be one of the first students to perform in the FAIC,” said music major Sharon Whitehead ’18. “This building has been a long time in the making and it is amazing to think about how many talented musicians will use the space in the future.”
“The FAIC is a phenomenal space and it makes students even more excited to perform than ever,” said Stacy Dziuk, conductor of the Eastern Concert Band, Eastern Wind Ensemble and Eastern Jazz Ensemble. “The students had so much fun and that excitement really translated into their performances.”
The Eastern Concert Band is a unique blend of more than 80 musicians, including Eastern students, faculty, alumni, local music educators and talented musicians from the community. Performance repertoire includes classic band literature as well as challenging works from contemporary composers. The ensemble performed “Slava!” by Leonard Bernstein, “Pageant” by Vincent Persichetti and “America, the Beautiful” by Samuel Ward.
The Eastern Wind Ensemble is the newest instrumental ensemble and provides students with a unique, student-centric instrumental playing experience. The small ensemble performs music from the wind ensemble and chamber winds repertoire as well as more contemporary works. The ensemble performed “Fantasy for Band” by Frank Erickson, “Air” from Brook Green Suite by Gustav Holst, and “Blue Ridge Reel” by Brian Balmages.
The Eastern Chamber Singers is Eastern’s premiere vocal ensemble and features 20-25 auditioned singers. Repertoire performed by Eastern Chamber Singers encompasses chamber music from more than four centuries. The ensemble performed excerpts from “Hymn to St. Cecilia” by Benjamin Britten, “O Magnum Mysterium” by Javier Busto and “Let Me Fly” by Robert DeCormier.
The Eastern Men’s and Women’s Choruses provide Eastern students with an additional opportunity to sing in smaller student-only ensembles. The ensembles perform a mixture of both accompanied and a cappella repertoire. The Men’s Chorus, conducted by Belles, performed “Fillimiooray,” an Irish-American Folk song arranged by Lon Beery. The Women’s Chorus, conducted by Emily Riggs, performed “Scarborough Fair” arranged by Jay Althouse. The two ensembles also performed a combined piece titled “Mouth Music” by Dolores Keane.
Prior to the concert, Eastern’s Opera Workshop provided entertainment to arriving guests in the grand foyer. Directed by Riggs, the workshop is offered each semester as an opportunity for students to experience the steps involved in creating and performing opera scenes. Students who participate are introduced to new repertoire and learn how to research and prepare roles for performance. During their pre-concert performance, the Opera Workshop performed “Language of Love” from Boccaccio, “Ah, perdona al primo affect” from La clemza di Tito, “Sull aria” from Le nozze di Figaro, “Agony” from Into the Woods and “It Takes Two” from Into the Woods.
The Eastern Jazz Ensemble, a traditional big band that plays music from a wide variety of styles and eras in the jazz idiom, also provided 15 minutes of entertainment during the concerts intermission.
Now housed in the new FAIC, Eastern’s Music Program will continue to provide theoretical and experiential opportunities which emphasize the history, theory and performance of music. All ensemble concerts are free and open to the public!