Student songwriters perform original music at “Songs on the Patio” event

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Webster University’s Songwriting Masterclass had their first showcase of the year on Friday, Sept. 2. The “Songs on the Patio” event was planned to be outside the Thompson Music Building, but was moved inside due to rain.

Photo by Brian Rubin. Jalessa Smith sings an original song, “California Coast.”

The showcase featured original music from students in the masterclass. Some of the song titles include “Tattoos Don’t Wash Away” by Cam Burns and “Never see you Again” by Jack Harre. Audio students provided equipment for the performers.

“The songwriting masterclass is open to all four grades,” Melissa Bishop, an adjunct professor for the songwriting program, said.

Bishop also wants students to feel like their time was well spent and that this program is still going strong.

The idea for “Songs on the Patio” came from sophomore Cam Burns, who also performed at the event. Burns performed three original songs: “Tattoos don’t Wash Away,” “Waking Dream” and “Loving Ghost.” Burns said the one thing he wanted the audience to get from his performance was the energy in the room.

“I want everyone to connect with the song in a different way,” Burns said. “The atmosphere is a lot less formal and it is more communal.”

The inspiration behind “Songs on the Patio” came from Webster alum Rachel Deschaine. Deschaine had a senior recital on the patio behind the Thompson Music House, and Burns suggested to Bishop that it would make a great venue.

Not every music department class is open to all students, but the Songwriting Masterclass is.  For example, Katie Klein is a sophomore and a psychology major. Klein both sang and accompanied herself on the keyboard.

“It’s personal to me, it’s our own music, we write it ourselves and it’s completely original,” Klein said. “Music can bring people together, and it’s fun to perform and watch your friends perform and encourage them.”

Harre debuted music from an album being released on Spotify under the stage name J.X.O. He started writing at 14 and continues to write in college.

“Different writers were writing different genres,” Harre said. “There is a lot more music to hear, and it shows everyone’s potential.”

As performers sang, more and more students crowded the Thompson Music House Recital Hall. The room filled up so quickly that students peered in through the doorways to get a glimpse of their fellow students.

When the performance ended, Bishop mentioned how lucky she was to work with these students, many of whom are just starting their college careers. For those who missed this performance, there is another showcase on Nov. 4 at the Blue Strawberry, a music venue at 364 N Boyle Ave. in St. Louis.

Other student ensemble recitals this semester include Choral Ensembles Oct. 7 and Dec. 9, Webster Orchestra Oct. 2 and Nov. 13, Wind Ensemble Oct. 10 and Dec. 5, Jazz Combos Nov. 7, Jazz Collective Nov. 14, Webster University Jazz Singers Nov. 21 and another student composers event on Oct. 30.

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Brian Rubin
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