Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 6, 2018

Alumni, Students Sing in Harmony at Homecoming Performance

Kaleigh Gabriel


Friday, Sept. 28, at exactly 7:32 p.m. the quiet chatter of the auditorium faded as a rhythmic “thump, thump” was heard from a lone percussionist on stage, returning alumna Mackenzie Lowry.

Members of the Jazz Ensemble flooded onto the stage to join Lowry in the song “Hey Pachuco,” an upbeat swing piece littered with the occasional gleeful shout of the title from performers in the ensemble.

At the conclusion of the song, director of bands, Scott Humphries, stepped to the mic to address the crowd. After thanking guests for attending, Humphries went on to inform the crowd that the next piece, “Blueberry Jam,” had been selected because he likes jam. The crowd erupted in laughter.

The Jazz Ensemble then concluded with the popular song “Leap Frog,” which Humphries prefaced with a story of his childhood, recalling his father’s ’78 record and remarked that the ensemble “wouldn’t be playing it quite that fast.” The classic jazz era music erupted from the ensemble, along with a beautiful trumpet solo from sophomore Manuel Hernandez.

After the Jazz Ensemble took their bows, they made their exit for the A Capella Choir to be fully seen at the back of the stage on their risers. In the sea of choral performers there was a mix of current students and returning alumni prepared to dazzle the crowd with tunes such as “Ave Verum Corpus,” “Sing Me to Heaven” and “Mairi’s Wedding.”

First-year and Bass I singer Anthony Harris was especially proud of the second piece “Sing Me to Heaven” because, as he said, “we had worked very hard on this particular piece, especially on dynamic contrast and the choir as a whole was able to come together and move the audience to feel something with the song.”

Similarly, first-year Tiffany Williams said she enjoyed this piece as well. “I’ve sung this song before and it has sentimental value to me as it was one of my grandma’s favorites in my high school choir career.”

At the conclusion of the A Capella Choir—a crowd-pleasing performance with music of many speeds and energy levels—the entire Symphonic Band convened on stage to begin a riveting performance of orchestrated music, including selections such as “Flourish for Wind Band,” “Yosemite Autumn” and “Sheltering Sky.”

“I was extremely nervous about this concert,” said first-year Kendall Wrage. “I am usually nervous until I get on stage and start playing; after that I’m totally fine. This was the first organized concert I’ve played for in over two years, so it was a little nerve-wracking, especially playing with the alumni.

“I am always intimidated by the sheer talent of professional players,” she added, “not to mention how good the alumni sound, even though they might not have played for a long time.”

For the final performance, the Symphonic Band and A Capella Choir joined together to perform “Be Thou My Vision,” a piece arranged by Dr. Debra Lynn. “This song is one of my favorites, the way [Dr. Lynn] combines symphonic and choral chords,” Humphries remarked.

Together the musical ensembles also joined to sing the school song, “By the Kenapocomoco,” per university tradition.  In an awe-inspiring movement the crowd stood with the students on stage and sang along to the school’s song, alumni and students alike, thus ending a musically flawless concert.