On Sunday, May 5, at 7 p.m., professors and students alike gathered around the Lawrence University Box Office in the Music-Drama Center. The atmosphere remained casual, with audience members chatting and even breaking out into singing the theme song from the “The Office” before the performance began. Fifth-year Emmylou (Milou) de Meij, a double degree student studying Russian and piano performance and recent Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award recipient, frequently performs piano and melodica in a variety of settings. For her Tiny Box Concert, Milou played piano and sang, performing all original or collaborative works.
At the start of her program, de Meij stepped out of the box office, where a piano and sound equipment filled the space and joined junior Liam Wood with his ukulele, standing in front of the audience’s semi-circle of chairs. De Meij announced that she and Wood would perform a song from Wood’s recital. In this upbeat song, de Meij and Wood sang verses back and forth and sang together, their voices harmonizing well. Their sweet voices combined with Wood’s buoyant ukulele accompaniment and made this love song a treat to listen to. Next, de Meij sat at the upright piano inside the box office and introduced her next piece, also a love song. She said, “Song writing for me is a very vulnerable thing,” and she added that this song detailed the magical experience of falling in love. A sensitive, cascading piano accompaniment ensued, and de Meij’s thoughtful voice carried through the small space. The audience seemed to enjoy this number especially, hollering and clapping after it ended.
De Meij told everyone that she had just written her next song that very morning. She remarked that she had only started singing and writing her own songs one year ago—an impressive feat considering the song-writing prowess she displayed in her performance. This next song was more melancholy than its predecessor but was enjoyable to experience nonetheless. Then, junior Liam Fisher joined de Meij at the piano inside the box office to perform a song they wrote together about trying to be perfect for someone. After, de Meij performed another original song about the joys of being in love. This heartfelt number achieved an emotional depth that was palpable in de Meij’s low, breathy voice, and it became my favorite song of the concert.
For her last song, de Meij performed “Breathe,” her favorite song that she has written so far. Having performed in the Lawrence’s water opera “Breathe” earlier this term, de Meij talked about how she has felt a remarkable connection to breath in her life and has developed an appreciation for it as the foundation of everything. This song featured a soft piano accompaniment and long melodic lines, including a long hold on the word “breathe” in the chorus. De Meij sang and played from her heart yet again, bringing her wonderful Tiny Box Concert to a close.
De Meij’s Tiny Box Concert, like the other concerts in the Tiny Box Series, afforded a much-needed break from typical, formal Conservatory concerts. It is wonderful to have a place where students may take emotional and musical risks in a supportive and relaxed atmosphere. For more information about upcoming Tiny Box Concerts or to inquire about playing a Tiny Box Concert, visit the Tiny Box Concert Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TinyBoxConcerts/ or talk to curator and senior Jeanette Adams.