NCF musical opportunities hit a recent high note

Photo credit: Jacob Wentz
Photo credit: Jacob Wentz

        Every week, multiple performance opportunities take place around campus. In addition to contributing to New College’s creative atmosphere, these shows give students the chance to practice their instruments in a collaborative setting. Whether the performances are hosted by students or organized by the music department, there are always opportunities for eager musicians to express themselves.  

Performances

Various musical performances are always happening at NCF in the form of jam sessions, small concerts and most recently, New Music New College. These impromptu shows allow musicians to create experimental sounds and friends to dance their hearts out.

“Pretty boy aloe hosts these live music events in his dorm, ‘Space Cave,’ where people just sort of impromptu get together to jam and play their own stuff,” second-year Elijah Weiss said.

“Often times there’s a lot of improv and musical talking back and forth between people. People come, people go, it’s a very open musical experience; it’s just creative expression.”

In addition to students, the Four Winds Café and the Bike Shoppe have recently announced that they are willing to host musical events.

“Four Winds is a community space and is open for students to put in event requests,” thesis student Sophia Schultz wrote in a forum post.

The musical environment at NCF has grown a lot since last year, showing the community’s growing value of art and creativity.

“I’m a lot happier with [the musical opportunities] this year than I was last year,” Weiss said. “There wasn’t as much spontaneous jamming—that I was aware of, at least. Now that that’s becoming more of a frequent and regular thing, that gives me hope for the student body to create a more cohesive creative and musical community.”

Photo credit: Adilyne McKinlay

Ensembles

The most consistent way for musicians to practice their instruments is through organized ensembles. Led by Virginia Bray, the New College Chorus is a part of the music program on the “academic” side and therefore tends to be more officially recognized than the other ensembles at NCF. The New College Chorus provides students opportunities to sing classics of a vast choral repertoire, from Gregorian chant to music of today’s composers. The Chorus has greatly grown in size and regularly attracts large audiences to its concerts.  

In addition to the New College Chorus, staff members occasionally organize specialized ensembles.

“I’ve led ‘open instrumentation’ ensembles over ISPs, in which students who play any instrument assemble and take on challenging contemporary repertoire by composers like Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, Fred Rzewski, and others,” Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Mark Dancigers said in an e-mail interview.

“I also created and led two Laptop Orchestras as a part of the class in Electronic Music a few years ago, and may revive that in the future.”

Though many opportunities come from the music department and staff, there are multiple student-led ensembles on campus. The New Cats jazz band, one of the college’s only organized instrumental group, practices at least once per week and puts on occasional concerts for students. The New Cats is a more selective ensemble, however, as it only accepted one new member this year.

The New College A Capella group, organized by thesis student Tessa Geier, provides a more casual opportunity for those who would like to further their vocal skills.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to create beautiful art with like-minded, cool people who also really want to have fun,” first-year student Cole Schmidt said.

Photo credit: Jacob Wentz
Photo credit: Jacob Wentz

New Music New College

Founded at the turning of the millennium, New Music New College (NMNC) has significantly grown from its beginnings in 1998. However, the foundational principles of NMNC remain extremely similar: experimental performance creates the opportunity for dialogue; new music comes alive when presented in the appropriate performance space; short and intense performances have maximum impact; and the conversation about contemporary music is richer when it involves the community, students, faculty and staff. For the past seventeen years, NMNC has opened dialogue about contemporary music and performance with the New College community, the greater Sarasota-Bradenton community and world-class musicians.

“New Music New College is an outstanding series that is yet more “local”, taking place right here on campus,” Dancigers said.

“New Music New College brings nationally-recognized performers and composers who specialize in adventurous and experimental music-making for performances throughout the year. These concerts are free for all NCF community members – check them out!”

In addition to bringing the community together to experience concerts in “Club Sudakoff,” NMNC puts a strong focus on educational activities, including Artist Conversations and panel discussions. This focus on education is especially important for NCF students and at least one NMNC concert every year features NCF student work in a prominent way. This blend of community, education, and performance shows the unique approach to musical knowledge that gives NMNC an incredible amount of value.

Photo credit: Caitlyn Ralph
Photo credit: Caitlyn Ralph

Funding

The creative community at NCF will continue to grow, thanks to recent artistic funding. The Andrew V. Mellon Foundation has awarded a five-year grant of $750,000 to NCF for project New College: Connecting the Arts and Humanities on Florida’s Creative Coast.

The central goals of this project include elevating the college’s capacity to contribute to public discourse on humanities and arts in our region, building sustainable relations with local art organizations, and establishing sustainable academic connections with local colleges that comprise the College Consortium group. Not only does this grant show the importance of humanities in education; it allows New College students to further advance the artistic community on campus.

To those who need to let their creative energy flow, NCF seems like a very suitable environment.

In addition to gaining a large amount of funding for the arts, our college is always alive with musical performance opportunities. Whether one would like to jam with friends or spectate at a New Music New College performance, the musical setting at NCF is rich. To aspiring musicians, take advantage of these opportunities and follow this advice from Dancigers:

“Work hard every day, and let your ears guide you on your journey.”

 

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