It has been quite busy in Pottle Music Building since the beginning of the semester. The events that have taken place are impressive considering the size of the department. It seems like the simultaneous work of different ensembles and professors is having a deep cultural impact not only on the Hammond community but also on the entire Parish. From a choral weekend to a masterclass by a world-famous soloist, the variety of choices is overwhelming.
The first large event, Cabaret, an opera/musical theater workshop, that took place on Sep. 26-27 in the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts showed great attendance from members of our community. The university students who made up the cast, directed by Chuck Effler, received the best comments from the public.
A few days later on Sept. 30 and on Oct. 2, the Southeastern Wind Symphony and the Southeastern Symphony Orchestra opened their seasons with two concerts at Pottle Music Building Auditorium. The first one featured the Wind Symphony with “The ‘Suite’ Sounds of Louisiana,” presenting music inspired by our beautiful Pelican State under the direction of Prof. Derek Staughton. The second one was put together by the Symphony Orchestra and directed by Victor Correa-Cruz in cooperation with the university’s Community Music School, giving young talented students the chance to perform as soloists with a symphony orchestra.
On Oct. 9 the Jazz Lab Band had a concert. It was directed by John Madere, instructor of music, and Michael Bothers, instructor of jazz studies, performed an impressive program in the recital hall, featuring famous saxophonist and university alumnus Zakkary Garner.
That was not the only occasion when a soloist visited the university. On Oct. 16, Giacomo Baldelli gave a performance of contemporary music for guitar and electronics organized by Dr. Philip Schuessler, an American composer. There was also a collaboration between Southeastern Louisiana University and Louisiana State University through a cello master class by Dennis Parker, professor of cello at LSU. The event was organized by Daniel Cassin, professor of cello. The last guest who came to the university was Lynn Harrell, one of the greatest cellist of our time, who on the morning of Oct. 25 gave a master class and stayed in Hammond to perform later in the evening with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.
At the same time, the Concert Choir prepared an ambitious program including the world premiere of a piece written specifically for them by Andrea Ramsey, which was performed at First Baptist Church on Oct. 17. They also went on tour, performing at several high schools in Louisiana. Dr. Alissa Rowe, professor of voice, was the conductor and organizer of these outreach activities.
The university music department is drawing talent and attention through its thriving calendar of events. And it is not going to slow down now. There is a big event coming up in Baton Rouge, the LMEA State Conference in November, where all the university ensembles are going to perform representing our university. Additionally, there are some Christmas concerts coming up. Stay tuned and keep an eye on the posters.