MLK Music for All Concert

In an effort to get more voices involved in the planning of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Lawrence, many of the events were proposed and executed by students here on campus. Throughout the day, students and community members were encouraged to register for events on disability policy and advocacy, abolition and anti-racism as well as a community book reading. There was something for any comfort level. Among these events was the Music for All concert. In years past, on the Day of Service, students and faculty have teamed up with Riverview Gardens, a close neighbor of campus in Appleton and where many service hours have been logged, to put on a performance showcasing the musical talents of the Lawrence community — of which there is no shortage. 

The concert is usually held at Riverview Gardens; however, this year, as most things, it was taken into the virtual world instead. Junior Jacob Dikelsky handled the organization of musicians on the school’s end, and when the performances came together, over 80 people logged into Zoom to enjoy the music as an online group. There are drawbacks to the format, but one upside is that it does allow for continued community safety and allows those who are far away from campus to participate either as a performer or as an audience member, including a few viewers who don’t attend the university. Additionally, it could all be enjoyed from the comfort of home.  

The concert went off without a hitch, with each of the performances pre-recorded for quality’s sake. The pieces played were beautiful and varied, from chaotic pieces like “Hammers” by Allison Loggins Hull, played by flautist junior Allison Gauvreau and percussionists sophomore Dylan Borash and juniors Ben DePasquale and Aaron Montreal, which was meant to emulate the sounds of construction in a city, to the smooth fluttering of junior Isabella Cisneros on the flute playing “Danza de la Mariposa” by Valerie Coleman, and showing the rhythms and sounds of various butterflies. Somewhere in between these two moods was a piano piece played by Professor of Music Michael Mizrahi, called “The Red Devil Dreams of Numbers,” which is by Lawrence alumnus Evan Williams ‘10. It tumbled through an elaborate intro before leveling out to a slower lyrical section. 

Before each piece, there was an introduction that explained more about the piece. The tone of the introductions was sometimes more casual than an in-person concert, which made it all feel a bit more informal but also gave the viewers a chance to see the personalities of who was playing. Before their trombone quartet rendition of “Emma Catherine” by Omar Thomas, juniors Mikayla Frank-Martin, Jacob Dikelsky, Omar Tlatelpa-Nieto and Nathan Graff explained that the cadence of the name “Emma Catherine” was the inspiration for the song, and then went around explaining how the beats would flow.  

One unique aspect of this Zoom format that is not reproducible in person, was the type of audience interaction that happened during the performance. In the chat-box of the livestream, people were able to respond in real-time with their reactions to what was going on. It was a kind of feedback that those who performed could keep track of even as they watched their own recordings — pleasant and impressed viewers all around.