Orchestra Grasps Audience’s Attention with 2023 Spring Concert. BROOKEDELLAROCCO/ COURTESY
By Brooke DellaRocco, Staff Writer
Manhattan College’s performing arts ensembles took the stage in the Chapel De La Salle for an afternoon of music and artistry. With families filling the pews, and sunshine flowing through the stained glass windows, it could not have been a better environment for an event.
The evening started off with a lively opening of MC’s very own acapella group, Manhattones singing The Beatles Medley, Come What May and Don’t Stop Me Now. These all had original arrangements by Luis Chavez, Sarah Rosen, and John DelJuidice who were also featured as vocalists in some of the numbers as well.
The program then transitioned into a whirlwind of fabulous and calming orchestral music, featuring Sarah Rosen on flute, Alexander Ciprut on cello, and Richard Divirgilio on French horn. They presented many different pieces including Concerto for Cello in D Minor, Magic Flute Overture, and everyone’s favorite, Lord of the Rings.
Ava Cruz, junior principal second violinist, and vice president of the Orchestra expressed her love for Lord of the Rings and how playing it made her feel.
“The reason I loved it so much was because I really like movie soundtracks,” Cruz said. “This piece was something I feel like everyone, no matter what time period you were born or what music you listen to, everyone knew the Lord of the Rings to some extent…When I would look up sometimes, you could see everyone was smiling.”
In fact, most of the audience was filming and having a relaxing time listening to this inspirational medley. Cruz, a biology major, has been in Orchestra since freshman year, and continuously talks about how helpful the experience has been to her in and out of her studies.
“I love that when I get to practice, I just feel like I can unwind, play pretty music and I’m with my friends,” Cruz said. “You know, it’s just a way to kind of really help me decompress.”
Sarah Rosen, a senior mathematics major with a minor in physics, is an alto in Manhattones and MC Singers, as well as a flutist for Orchestra, has a similar take on how these music groups have shaped her mental well-being.
“For me, music is an escape from all the stress of life as a student,” Rosen wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “Once I start to focus on counting the rhythms of a song that’s all that occupies my mind, it’s therapeutic in a way to allow oneself to be absorbed in this world. There’s something universal about the emotions music can invoke. Even songs without words can hold so much meaning. I find a lot of joy in honing the skills required to make music, and even more in sharing the emotions that it evokes.”
Everyone involved in Orchestra has some kind of backstory as to why they are playing at MC and what benefits they will receive from doing so. Grace Dillon, sophomore flutist and piccolo player, as well as public relations manager for Orchestra, had a tough time deciding between where she wanted to attend college to follow her musical passions.
“In my earlier years in high school, I really honestly was thinking about touring schools that had music performance and maybe going for a performance degree or music education degree,” Dillon said. “And then it kind of hit me that I didn’t want it to be my professional life. I wanted to do it because I wanted to do it for my own self, and for fun, and to [have] an enriching experience; I’m very glad I made that decision.”
Following the Orchestra, MC’s College Choir, MC Singers, joined Orchestra on the risers to sing 4 beautiful arrangements of all different genres and languages. It is Well With My Soul, even featured student Conductor Luis Chavez, leading both the Orchestra and Choir in song. The evening ended with the Mass in G Major.
Alexander Ciprut, a senior computer information systems major and music minor, is a cellist and the president of the Orchestra. He spoke about his experience picking up the cello in the first place.
“I’ll be honest, I was gonna pick the bass but then I said, ‘Oh, I can sit when I play the cello,’” Ciprut said. “I chose the cello. And it just clicked. I don’t know what exactly, but I liked playing the cello. I played it through high school and when I was looking for colleges, that was something I was looking for.”
When Ciprut was asked about how he will carry these musical lessons into his life after he graduates, he spoke very confidently about what he has learned through his time here at MC.
“Well there’s one thing with a performance, it’s never gonna go the way you expect it to,” Ciprut said. “So you kind of learn to roll with the punches a little bit, and deal with on-the-fly thinking.”
Ciprut expects to carry this ideal into his future career and looks forward to possibly coming back as an alum and playing cello for the Orchestra.
All three music groups featured in the MC Spring Concert were able to have their shining moment in front of all of their families and friends. While feeling support from their peers, many of them commented on how they felt a lack of support from the school. Other than Andrew Bauer, director of music and coordinator of Performing Arts, and Dr. Gwendolyn Toth, director and conductor of Orchestra, students expressed their distaste for a lack of resources provided by the school. Cruz in particular spoke about how priority in MC clubs and groups can even affect the Orchestral instruments.
“Even the conditions in the Chapel, like when we have to go and rehearse,” Cruz said. “I don’t know who’s in charge of maintaining chapel conditions but sometimes it’s too cold for us to play, which can really affect the way we play…When you’re cold and stuff, you can’t really move your joints…..And also it ruins the conditions of our instruments.”
In too hot or too cold temperatures, these instruments can consistently go out of tune which can negatively affect the instrument overall and also affect how the Orchestra sounds altogether. This is not the only issue for the arts, as the budget that the Orchestra is given by the administration is a common complaint. The money set aside for this group is too low to allow for the purchasing of certain instruments that do break, or need fixing.
Looking ahead, Cruz mentioned her potential candidacy for president of the Orchestra in the 2023-2024 season, where she spoke about one of her main goals.
“My goal is, to grab the attention more of administration and say, ‘This is what we need from you, your support would be valued,’” Cruz said. “Because again, if you love attending these shows, if you love attending these performances, like you tell me you do, we would sincerely appreciate the support so we can continue to provide these performances that you love so much.”
All Orchestra members were overjoyed to perform on Sunday and expressed their ongoing hope for new and fresh members to join the club next year.
For more information follow their Instagram @mc.orchestra