Senior Performing Arts Scholar Dabbles in MC Ensembles and Personal Endeavors

by Alexa Schmidt, Features Editor

Senior Kevin Donald is one of five people in his class that has the Performing Arts scholarship at Manhattan College. A double major in English and philosophy, Donald plays trumpet in the Jazz Band, the Jazz small group band, and occasionally accompanies Orchestra.

Donald originally got into music through taking piano lessons in second grade. He later picked up the trumpet and guitar, and got involved in more casual commitments in high school. He tried his hand at the Performing Arts scholarship during his college search.

“I actually missed the deadline by a day and I was freaking out, my mom was going to kick my butt,” Donald said. “So she made me email Andy Bauer, and I had just won an All-Northern Jersey jazz award. So she made me send him the Patch article about it, and he was like, ‘Oh it’s fine, just FaceTime me.’ Little did I know, I was treating it very seriously, and Andy is like the most casual guy ever, and I FaceTimed him from my high school band room, and it took two minutes, and he was like, ‘Oh you’re great. You can definitely do this,’” he said.

He received the scholarship a few weeks later, which influenced his choice to attend MC.

“It’s really been helpful to have that extra little bit. And honestly, I mean I would be in Performing Arts anyway, I think most of the scholarship students would do it with or without the scholarship, but it definitely, at least for me, motivated me to be a leader in the community and to take on a role on the e-board in Jazz Band and stuff like that. It’s just an incentive to get a little more involved when you know there’s some money to it,” Donald said.

In addition to Manhattan’s programs, Donald performs in his band, Let Me Ask My Mother.

“Let Me Ask My Mother is a project I started last year, and we perform a bunch of songs that I’ve been writing for the past six or seven years. It has a cast of rotating people that I perform with,” Donald said. “I’ve done a few shows in the Bronx and a few shows in the New Jersey basement scene with my friends from Flycatcher, who I occasionally play with, and one of their members, Greg Pease, is in my band,” he said.

“That’s really been the more creative outlet for me. Performing Arts really offers me a lot in more traditional settings, but Let Me Ask My Mother lets me express who I am a little bit better. It’s a little bit more exactly the genre I want to be doing, and doing the things I’m feeling,” Donald said.

When asked about his inspiration for his songs, Donald jokingly answered that it was girls.

“More seriously, a lot of it is intimate relationships, but also friendships. I feel like that’s something people really don’t talk a lot about in their music. I think it’s an interesting thing to tackle. Like platonic friendship. And thinking intimately about growing up and going through the changes that you go through from sixteen, seventeen, to being twenty-two. It’s a lot of change,” Donald said.

Along with mandatory practices and performances, Donald is a Resident Assistant and a member of the improv group, Scatterbomb. Juggling all of his activities with limited time can be challenging, but Donald enjoys it all the same.

“I am busy. I don’t really know if I can say that I cope with it so much as that I just kind of thrive in that stress and that frantic nature of running around from rehearsal to a show or something like that. I just kind of like that. It keeps me busy, it keeps me living,” he said.

Although Donald appreciates the Performing Arts at MC, he thinks there is a lot of room for improvement and growth.

“There’s not a lot of opportunities for people that want to do more DIY stuff, more untraditional music, there’s not a lot of outlets or spaces for people that maybe want to put on a punk show on campus, or off-campus for that matter. And I think that’s something we should really try to create. And that’s something I’ve tried to create, putting on shows in my friends apartments, and in places off-campus, but I’d love to see that kind of community grow. And I hope that the radio, WRCM, has a part in that, and I’m trying to foster some of that too,” Donald said.