If there’s one thing Ramapo College has, it’s incredibly talented student musicians. From classical to jazz to Brazilian beats, Ramapo’s music community has got it all.
There is so much musical beauty across the campus that it is nearly impossible to explore them all. With that in mind, two music organizations came together to create a space where the Ramapo community can enjoy all the musicians at the same time.
Ramapo Chorale and Ramapo Music Club hosted a Music Showcase on Friday, Nov. 18 that featured student musicians from clubs and classes. The music department has never done anything where multiple musical groups have performed alongside each other, and Music Club president Claudia Eligur and Chorale president Sascha Kaplan thought it was about time the different musicians came together for a night of shared excellence.
“I wanted to steer away from our weekly open mic nights and monthly concerts. I thought, ‘Why isn’t the music club really associated with the music program?’ There are so many music majors and not many of them are in the music club or know about the music club’s events,” Eligur said. “I felt like it was two separate things and that should change.”
Music Club worked with Chorale last spring for a Ukrainian fundraiser, and they thoroughly enjoyed their time working together. For many of the Chorale students – who can be part of the Chorale by taking it as a 2-credit course or joining as a club member – it was their first time being involved with Music Club events, and for weekly Music Club open mic attendees, listening to the Chorale sing Ukrainian songs was their first exposure to the organization.
“A lot of people here tend to stick in their own little world. There’s a lot of diversity within the music department, but if they’re classical musicians, they stick to classical music. If they do rap and hip hop, they stick to that,” Kaplan said. “So it’s really cool to have all these different groups that focus on a wide range of genres in one place in one night.”
After hours of setting up stage and audio equipment, students, professors, friends and families gathered into the Alumni Lounges for the very successful showcase. Although most of the audience was made up of the performers and a few of their friends, every musician performed as though they were playing in a prestigious concert venue or symphony hall.
The show began with a solo performance from Tom Dolan who performed three rock covers, including “For Me This Is Heaven” by Jimmy Eat World. He sang and played his electric guitar to hype the audience up before Solie Kang shifted into a more elegant tone with an angelic flute solo.
Other soloists included Eligur with an acoustic guitar and vocal performance of her original song “Give It Time” and recent graduate Jamie Moore who sang and played acoustic guitar during a seven-song set, including songs by Genesis, Phoebe Bridgers and an original.
Five music ensembles performed, and each performance was incredibly professional and entertaining. Chamber Music gave a swingy, stringy and windy performance that was later followed by long, funky tunes by the Jazz Ensemble. Chorale and CantaNOVA sang four different songs that were sure to lift attendee’s spirits.
The highlights of the night came from improvised performances that featured ensemble directors. A student pianist from the Advance Music Performance class was joined by Professor Gilad Cohen in a single keyboard duet that was completely improvised. If they didn’t tell the audience, anyone could believe it was a well-rehearsed piece.
Brazilian Latin Percussion Ensemble director Amarildo Costa performed with the four other members donned in traditional Brazilian apparel of the ensemble in the most engaging and memorable act of the night. The powerful and lively beats had everyone moving along, and by the end of the performance, practically the entire room was part of the band. Attendees had the opportunity to play a variety of percussion instruments, and everyone drummed, shook and stomped along to the director’s commands.
“I’ve never seen the Brazilian Latin Percussion perform, and I’m a music major,” Eligur said. “[Their performance] was the best thing I’ve ever seen at Ramapo. It was just so eccentric and something different that you don’t see every day. They accept people of all levels and they just all sounded really professional.”
With the Music Showcase’s great success, student leaders and professors plan to turn this into a semesterly tradition, hopefully in larger, more accessible locations that can emerge all of Ramapo into the campus’s diverse music community.
Photo by Emily Melvin.