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Musicians Savor Having Live Audiences Again

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

By Johanna Sommer

A group of students gather to watch a concert in the Quad. Photo by Roy Kent.

Despite the Stood remaining closed and strict guest policies remaining in place, students are still finding ways to perform around campus.

For many, these are some of their first times performing since the pandemic started.

Students have participated in an impromptu jam circle that has emerged several times since the fall semester has started. Usually, random musicians approach the Quad area across from D-Hall and join in with their instruments. John Porcelli III, a freshman percussion major, is one of those students, relishing the opportunity to hop on his friend’s drum kit. At least 60 students were in the audience with 10 people playing the first time he was asked to join in.

“The fact that I have something to look forward to now after having so many months of complete boredom is a game-changer,” Porcelli said. “Being able to actually take up those opportunities is such a blessing.”

He also expressed the difference performing with others has from practicing on his own, as well as how this has had a positive effect on his relationship with his instrument.

“When I’m playing with a set of musicians who are playing on completely different instruments, I get a sense of unity,” Porcelli said. “Getting to play in that sense is great because you get to see how other people play, you have to adapt and adjust to other styles, and it makes, I think it makes, my style more versatile.”

TJ McMaster, a sophomore arts management major and saxophonist, and Ethan Famodu, a sophomore studio production major and guitarist, shared Porcelli’s enthusiasm about the outdoor jam sessions on campus and the ability to have an audience again.

“It feels like a love has been unleashed,” says McMaster, “like I re-met an old friend I have not seen in a really long time.”

The first few weeks of the semester have been the first time McMaster has been able to play with others and in a spontaneous atmosphere since his senior year of high school. Both Famodu and himself were off-campus for their freshman year.

“It almost seems like the music has a gravitational pull, you know, like everyone just wants to get into it because there was nothing going on for the past year-and-a-half,” McMaster said.

Famodu touched on a moment from a previous night’s jam session where student break-dancers had joined the musicians in their own improvisational performance. “I had never experienced anything like that before,” he said. “I was like, ‘Damn, with the dancing we better not mess up.’ ”

Porcelli also shared the stage with freshman dance major David Keingatti. The two played off one another’s movements and energy, finding an unexpected collaboration and showcasing one of the benefits of being surrounded by creative peers again.

“When I was playing, I literally just sat down on the kit and there was this long, long improvisational jam going on and he started dancing to it,” Porcelli said. “To be able to feed onto that energy and play along with it and have him play along with me was nothing short of mind-blowing.”



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