By Jessica Braveman Special to The Chronicle
If you had been taking a stroll through South Campus on Friday night, your ears would have directed you straight to Monroe Hall where concert was being held. You would have heard the soft, light sound of early music, the emotional arias from Italian operas and even the fast, rhythmic beats of modern electronic dance music.
Graduates of the music department performed at the Alumni Recital and Scholarship Benefit Concert on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Helene Fortunoff Theater in Monroe Hall. Musicians showcased their mastery of music since taking lessons at the University.
The most exciting part of the recital was a performance by Herbert Deutsch on the Moog Voyager, a type of synthesizer. Deutsch is both a professor emeritus and an alumnus from Hofstra’s class of 1956. Along with being a co-developer of the Moog Synthesizer, he also created degree programs for jazz, composition/theory, and music merchandising at the University. The performance by Deutsch was mesmerizing, a piece titled “Baklava.” Overall, Deutsch and his performance seemed to be an audience favorite.
The final performance of the night was given by the band Monroe Hall, cleverly named after the music department’s main performance space. The band is composed of two current students, sophomore Jeremy Arndt and senior Max Ross, as well as two recent graduates, Paul Ceglio of 2013 and Rob Lombardo of 2012.
Monroe Hall’s sound can be described as rock with a jazz feel, and both of the songs that were performed by the group are original pieces composed by Ross and Lombardo. Both songs were up-tempo, something the audience could have danced to if they had been in a less formal performance venue. The band worked well together, each member smoothly adjusting his sound to perform as part of one whole. Although the group had technical difficulties throughout its performance, the members kept their composure and joked with the audience about these difficulties.
“Essentially, the music department becomes one giant family,” said Arndt. “You get to know everyone so well because you’re around everyone so often, and it’s a great experience. No one’s mean here, everyone’s supportive, everyone’s willing to help, all the teachers are fantastic, all the students are very talented – it’s a great program here.”
Ceglio also had only positive things to say about the department from which the band, Monroe Hall, draws its members.
“You’ve got a bunch of students with all different musical interests coming together from different programs, and the teachers, the experience that they have is mind-blowing,” said Ceglio. “They come from all different genres – opera, jazz, classical – all the different places they come from to help the students. It’s great here.”
When asked about how the department prepared them for their jobs post-graduation, both Ceglio and Lombardo felt that they were made more than ready.
“I got to work with a lot of great faculty in music ed,” said Lombardo. “I learned a lot, teaching-wise, along the way. A lot of the things that I use now in the classroom, I was able to learn here. I was able to build my teaching repertoire and get a lot of ideas from working with the faculty. It definitely helped me be prepared for when I got an actual job in the classroom.”
Allegro con Brio, the music department’s official alumni association where Deutsch is president, sponsored the recital. Performers ranged from recent graduates to current professors. The music was a mixture of pieces by famous composers, such as Verdi and Puccini, and pieces composed by the performers themselves. There was also a variety of instrumental and vocal music, as well as a performance on a synthesizer, to appeal to the audience’s diverse tastes.
The recital was overall very well done. There was a balance of instrumental and vocal music, so the recital never felt monotonous. The performers poured emotion into each performance, which was reflected with every melodic phrase played or sung. The smooth voices of both Lombardo and Ross blended with the jazzy feel of their music to evoke a calming feeling. The most disappointing part of the recital was a lack of people in the audience. The department is full of incredible musicians, so it’s always upsetting that they don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Besides, not only were alumni able to showcase their talents, but the recital also raised over $500 for the department’s scholarship fund.