Webster music students performed ‘The Human Experience’ on March 9

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Seventeen Webster University music students created a concert to perform for peers, family and community members on March 9 titled “The Human Experience.” The event was put together as part of a class final for professor Matthew Pickart’s MUSC 4700 class (The Complete Performance) and was held in the Community Music School (CMS).

The concert featured students from a wide variety of musical talents, incorporating piano, accordion, harp, violin, drums, guitar, ukulele and a Moroccan instrument called the krakeb. Student singers were also able to show their skills with vocal pieces.

Music major Hannah Wozniak sang and played ukulele in the performance. She was also appointed the president of organizing the performance, designating rehearsal times, scheduling group meetings and reserving practice rooms in the Thompson Music Building and CMS. However, Wozniak said most rehearsals occurred during the 4-hour class meeting on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

“Everyone in the group was so talented and amazing that it made my job really easy. Everyone was able to fulfill their responsibilities in such a way that I didn’t really have to step in at any time,” Wozniak said.

Vocal performance major Jay McKeehan, who sang in the concert and helped publicize the event, said the collaboration between classmates helped organizing run smoothly.

“We would spend the first little bit of class sort of checking in with everyone and seeing where everyone was at. We all had certain jobs,” McKeehan said. “Then each [group] would get together and get all their instruments together and just practice whatever piece they were performing in the concert.”

Wozniak said the final performance for MUSC 4700 is intended to showcase the various backgrounds, specialties and knowledge of music students. There were composition majors, vocal performance majors, musical theater majors, instrumentalists and singers all performing different genres.

“We had a few jazz majors in the group, combined with a lot of classically trained performers,” Wozniak said.

Student composers Noah Lovins, Franklin Gnahore, Louis Wall and Zach Tesch wrote original pieces for this performance. Each piece had a theme; Wall’s composition centered around teenage angst and had a grunge-rock feel. Tesch’s piece deals with feelings of loneliness during the pandemic and lockdowns.

“Our idea was to sort of bring people together since we all spent these last couple of years dealing with various levels of isolation and just general loneliness,” McKeehan said. “And being [unable], especially as musicians, to perform in public and have that camaraderie.”

The performance was titled “The Human Experience” by the class because it focused on exploring the performers’ and composers’ emotions through the last two years. The March 9 performance was the first in-person event the MUSC 4700 class was able to hold in 2 years, since before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

“We wanted to do something special, where we could feel like whoever came to the concert could relate to it somehow. And so we thought nothing better than branding it as the human experience,” McKeehan said.

The event also helped raise awareness and funds for the non-profit organization Prison Performing Arts, which helps incarcerated individuals put on their own musical shows. The organization aims to help those in the prison system express themselves through music and have a creative outlet.

“A lot of musicians will describe the healing power of music and how music can really help with learning and healing, and just overall creating a more positive environment within one’s own self. And so that’s why we thought performing Prison Performing Arts was especially important,” Wozniak said.

Funds raised for the organization contribute to providing resources to those in the prison system, such as instruments and fees for licensing performance of musicals.

“I think all of us, you know, as musicians, we struggle a bit to make a living or to raise money ourselves. So having the ability to help other people raise money for their dreams, their aspirations or their programs, I think it’s just a special treat for everyone,” McKeehan said.

“Not only was it just really special to be able to perform live again, but to do it with people who are truly dedicated to their craft and who love music as much as I do,” Wozniak said. “When you’re with that kind of community, it’s almost impossible to not feel that community aspect on stage. And that energy of collaboration and love for music just really made the performance special for me.”

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Lifestyle Editor | + posts

Kate McCracken (she/her) is the lifestyle editor for the Journal. She is a double major in Philosophy and History, minoring in Professional Writing. She has always loved to write and create stories, and she wrote her first book at age 10. Aside from writing, Kate also enjoys photography, environmental/animal activism, paranormal investigation and oneirology, the study of dreams.