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Mount Hosts Musical Gala

Peter Dorsey, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Liberal Arts

gala feature

The Mount hosted a musical gala on Friday, February 22, at the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center in downtown Frederick, Maryland. Held in the Center’s spacious Gardiner Hall, the event featured the Mount’s Big Band, Chorale and Lab Band, musical ensembles directed by the university’s Visual and Performing Arts Department.

As guests sipped wine and mingled, the Lab Band opened the evening with classic jazz numbers such as Duke Ellington’s “C Jam Blues,” experimental rock pieces like Tortoise’s “I Set My Face to the Hillside” and American standards such as Johnny Mandel’s “Shadow of Your Smile.”  The Lab Band forms a class taught by Mark Carlson, DMA, and the students’ versatility was on full display, as performers swapped instruments, scores and musical genres.  Next, the Mount’s Big Band took the stage and delivered big sound with Count Basie’s high energy “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” and the driving beat of Jimmy Forest’s “Night Train.” 

Next up was the Mount Chorale. Harmonizing beautifully, they performed the Israeli folk song, “Erev Shel Shoshanim,” followed by the sacred song, “V'al Kulam.”  Transitioning smoothly from the sacred to the secular, they sang “Moonspeak,” an original composition based on President John F. Kennedy’s speech advocating a moon landing. Turning wistful, the Chorale finished its set with an inspiring rendition of Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”

At various moments during the evening, student performers Pratosh Brahmbhatt, Allie Wade, Shawn Manges, Scott Korte and Rita Marcotte addressed the audience.  These musicians explained how their involvement in the Mount’s musical program impacted their university experience by sharing moments of humor, friendship, adversity, poignancy and sheer fun. All the performers described how their musical life at Mount St. Mary’s very positively impacted their social, academic and professional development.  The music program at the Mount is open to all majors, who can participate for college credit, as an extra-curricular activity or both.

The evening’s lively final set featured Rita Marcotte singing a Big Band version of “Paper Moon,” followed by a rousing rendition of Louie Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing,” during which Pratosh Brahmbhatt amazed the crowd with show-stopping drum solos.

Once the music stopped, student musicians, Mount faculty and staff, and guests mingled and shared in the joy of a successful performance. “Every day Mount students come to rehearsal and push the envelope of musicianship to establish the quality standard for the next semester. It is a privilege to work with so many intelligent and dedicated musicians and a joy to share their work," Carlson reflected.

The student performers also enjoyed the experience.  Keyboardist and bassoon player, Betsy Busch said, “Performing at the Gala in Frederick was a great opportunity because we normally only perform at the Mount. It was also exciting to share the music we’ve been working on for Big Band since we put so much time and effort into it.”

The Visual and Performing Arts Department hopes the Gala will become an annual event and believes it marks an additional step in the evolution of the university’s music program.  It certainly showcased how well university students are developing their already impressive skills while exporting the goodness of Mount St. Mary’s.   If the success of this year’s concert is any indication, next year they may need a bigger venue.

Peter Dorsey, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Liberal Arts