Music Ensembles Prepare for Final Concerts of the Year

Allissah Jerome

As the school year is coming to a close, the concert band, jazz band, concert choir, and Bella Voce are busy preparing for their final concert of the year.

Bret Amundson, who is the Director of Choral Activities and Director of General Education at The College of St. Scholastica, will be directing the Bella Voce and Women’s Choir on Friday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Auditorium, where they will perform their “Let Your Love Be Heard” spring concert. The pieces performed will focus on love – the love of nature, of singing, of using your voice. Those who attend can expect a wide variety of music, according to Amundson.

“’Let Your Love be Heard,’ will really bring in an aspect of love of yourself, love of others, love of nature, love of the world, love of spirituality, love of God and you can really bring in a lot of different directions,” Amundson said of choosing the theme for the concert.

Amundson is looking forward to directing Bella Voce as they perform, ‘Sing, wearing the Sky,’ by Lalla. It is a western musical piece, but has middle eastern influence. It also has a really meaningful text and it has an intense viola part in it, according to Amundson. In regards to the concert choir, Amundson is most excited to direct a piece entitled “Ecco mormorar l’onde.” This piece, due to its harmonic movement, is something that college students are not used to hearing, Amundson added.

The Concert and Jazz bands at Scholastica will also perform their last concert of the year, and last ever under the direction of Marianne Connelly. The concert will take place on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mitchell Auditorium. Connelly has been employed at The College for the past nineteen years as the Director of Bands and an assistant professor of Music Education. She is also an alum of St. Scholastica. Connelly’s upcoming concerts in April will be her last, as she is retiring at the end of the school year. These final concerts will be a peak experience in Connelly’s life. Having her family and friends attending the concert front and center will make her heart full, she stated.

“I am not going to think about it being my last time because then I will miss the moment. I will have time later to be sad,” said Connelly.

Connelly has fond memories of her time at St. Scholastica. These include attending a showing of “The Titanic” with students for musical inspiration, student directed concerts, traveling, and performing at venues. At one concert, the theme was March Movie Madness and all of the students dressed up as movie characters and Connelly surprised her students by coming out of the audience just moments before the concert began and surprised her students by being dressed as one of the Sisters.

Connelly will also always remember the specific concert she directed as a response to 9/11. The concert featured many different pieces including John Lennon’s “Let Your Love Be Heard.” Guest speakers performed readings and recited poetry, and a slide show was included to represent students giving back to the world.

The most challenging aspect of directing bands at the collegiate level is the constant changing of personnel, according to Connelly. Clinicals, different classes, different majors, practicals, internships, financial aid, work, and study abroad sometimes prevent students from continuing in band, even if they want to. Because of this, some years they don’t have enough trumpets, while others have as many as nine.

“Band Dances and Dance Bands,” the last concert, Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mitchell Auditorium, will feature both the concert and jazz bands. This concert band will include moving and playful pieces, unique instruments, a guest conductor and guest band members including faculty, staff, St. Scholastica alumni, and more.

“The reason I chose dances is because what I witness in my students’ lives at this time of year, every year, is stress. … I like to make the spring concert a break from all that,” Connelly said.

The second half of this concert will feature the jazz band performing two swing dances, two ballads and will end with “Dancing in the Street.” In collaboration with the band, Emily Lundgren will sing during the piece entitled “Embraceable You.”

Out of all the final pieces that Connelly will direct, she is most excited for “Sarabande and Polka from Solitaire.” According to Connelly, this piece is gorgeous, fun, and represents the joy of music making.

“We need the slow beautiful things to express what’s in our heart and we need just the energy and the joy and movement … it can help you forget your troubles and just lift you up so you can carry on,” she said.

The concert and jazz bands will say goodbye to eight seniors on concert night. “You are loved,” Connelly stated.

“Everybody will have a good time. I mean, how could you not?” Connelly stated of attending the concert. “Please come to my concert and if you ever played in my band, come sit front and center.”