One Thursday morning this semester, the stars finally aligned for us to hold a sectional rehearsal for the orchestra’s clarinetists. No other wind instruments and definitely no strings present! It was just Scott, the other clarinetist, our professor, Kelli O’Connor, and me running through orchestral music together. One of the pieces we played in orchestra this semester is the impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite.” As is typical of his works, it features complex, mystifying and beautiful harmonies. Part of our job in a sectional is to learn to get these harmonies in tune, which helps the orchestra sound better.
One recent Thursday morning, the stars finally aligned for us to hold a sectional rehearsal for the orchestra’s clarinetists. No other wind instruments and definitely no strings present! It was just Scott, the other clarinetist, our professor, Kelli O’Connor, and me running through orchestral music together. One of the pieces we’re playing in orchestra this semester is the impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite.” As is typical of his works, it features complex, mystifying and beautiful harmonies. Part of our job in a sectional is to learn to get these harmonies in tune, which helps the orchestra sound better.
This past month, one of the most driven members of our student body, Shameesha Pryor ’17, organized the second Black Women’s Conference hosted at Conn with the assistance of the Africana Studies Student Advisory Board. Although the first conference was held in 1969, the need for this event has not diminished, just as the injustices and double standards black women face daily certainly have not. It goes without saying that the Earth is fortunate to be graced with the melanin of black women, but this is also a group often pushed into archetypal roles not representative of their humanity and actual experiences. Instead, they are viewed as the angry, strong, or sassy black woman. This conference shattered those narrow perceptions and stereotypes of black womanhood, and provided a space for people to discuss the complexities that come with being a black woman in today's world.
Despite my enthusiastic participation in it, I will never hesitate to say that a cappella is probably the weirdest extracurricular I have done in my life, excluding my scarring musical theater days. The universal love of singing attracts unlikely groups of people, and although it’s not quite as dramatic as the movie “Pitch Perfect,” a cappella culture is fascinating. I got an in-depth look at this phenomenon during spring break when I visited Williams College and Brown University with my group, Vox Cameli, during our “Premiere Tour.” While we graced these campuses with our lovely voices, I realized my favorite part of a cappella occurs once the performances are over; a cappella after dark. I’ve found that the only thing that can be expected to occur after a performance is a sing-off, the result of two singing groups realizing they’re too awkward to socialize.
In the beginning of my first semester at Conn, I joined the club Ultimate Frisbee team, and even though the spring tournaments Riptide and High Tide were months away, returning team members talked constantly about how great spring break was going to be. So I knew I was in for a fun time when I set out to spend my spring break with 40 of my friends.
There are moments when I look back with amazement at the many performances and lectures I have been to in my short time at Conn. Recently, I saw three powerful performances on campus all in one week: on Monday the Ammerman Center sponsored a visit by famed performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña. On Friday, I saw the theater department’s production of Mark Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock,” and on Saturday I went to the Women’s Empowerment Initiative performance of their 2017 show “She is a Tempest.” These three performances dealt with difficult themes, such as dividedness, inequality and oppression, and inspiring ones, such as effecting change, empowerment and living life to the fullest.
Since coming to Conn, I have become a professional novice, frequently trying out new experiences to find my place within the community. My first semester here I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and tried out for the improv comedy group N2O. Second semester I tried out for “She is a Tempest,” the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative’s annual show.
“You must be the change you wish to see.” – M. K. Ghandi
I live my life by this quote because it challenges me to take action to make the world a better place. Its philosophy is also a driving force behind Green Dot training here on campus, which I recently completed. Green Dot is a national organization that works to prevent power-based personal violence, such as sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking, in communities throughout the country. I’m glad that Connecticut College has a robust Green Dot chapter, with about a quarter of students who have undergone training. My friends who completed the training encouraged me to do it for months, so when I got an email about a session that worked with my schedule, I signed up for it.
Before I arrived at Connecticut College, I had never really been interested in hearing the sound of my own singing voice, perhaps because my older sisters never hesitated to tell me it was similar to a cat in heat. Even so, I decided to audition for an a cappella group last year, just for fun. I must say that I was EXTREMELY surprised when I was accepted into the amazing group that is Vox Cameli. I didn’t realize that a cappella is sort of a hot commodity on the East Coast, with groups frequently being the entertainment at Conn’s events. While I’m quite confident that only one-third of the notes I sing are ever right, that hasn’t stopped me from getting on a stage yet, and our performance for Green Dot Week was no exception.
It’s my theory that growing up in an urban environment causes people to have an inherent connection to music and dance, although not everyone is blessed with the rhythm to match. As a result, while I may walk and run with stiff, questionable posture, I can bust quite a few unexpected moves on a dance floor. It could also happen to be in my room, kitchen, a hallway, while running on the treadmill; anywhere I can listen to music doubles as my shameless stage. Generally, I avoid doing so in front of large groups of people, but last weekend I had to power through my anxiety to audition for Eclipse, the largest student-run dance show, for my final year at Conn
I have never really been much of a skier—in fact, the first time I skied was in the 10th grade on a high school ski trip. Since then, I have skied a handful of times, maybe four or five, and have not achieved much greatness in these endeavors. That is to say, I fall a lot when I ski. A lot.
There are many concerts and recitals at the end of each semester, produced by the music and dance departments, student bands or a capella groups, SAC (Student Activities Council), or any of the myriad student groups here. I should know because I usually end up playing in a few of the ones that the music department runs. For me, it’s a bittersweet moment in the semester. Playing in concerts is a fun and invigorating experience, but it’s usually time-consuming with rehearsals and preparation for each performance. It’s also a sign that the semester is getting close to the dreaded finals period. However, playing a concert is about more than just jumping onto the stage of Evans Hall. There are a lot of little things that go into it.
It’s Friday night, you’re in Olin basement and an improv show is about to begin. Whether it’s Scuds or N2O, the main improv groups at Connecticut College, going to an improv show at Conn is an intimate experience. The shows almost always take place on Friday nights— traditionally a night in which student activities are abundant. So, the scene is this: hanging out with your friends and undoubtedly lots of other people you know in a smallish lecture hall, cheering for your pals up there on stage.
For two weeks in November, Connecticut College Asian & Asian American Students in Action (ASIA) hosted ORIGINS: An Asian Arts Festival, a first for both the club and Conn. The festival brought many amazing cultural opportunities to campus, including a lecture by internationally renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing, a food making workshop, and a student art exhibition in Coffee Grounds, one of the coffee houses on campus.
As our nation works to understand the implications of the election results, students throughout the country have been meeting with deans and other administrators to discuss its impact. Here at Conn our administration has been proactive in learning about the needs of our community. The day after the election, less than twelve hours after Donald Trump was declared president-elect, I attended Lunch with the Deans with Jefferson Singer, John McKnight, and Victor Arcelus, the deans of the College, Institutional Equity & Inclusion, and students respectively.
On October 22, the Connecticut College Habitat for Humanity chapter celebrated World Habitat Day. Within the Habitat for Humanity community, this is a day to recognize the successful global network that this organization is. Like most other events that we host, it is intentionally inclusive and asks for the community’s help to spread awareness of our presence on campus and to encourage participation from our peers and friends. My own involvement in Habitat includes being a member of the executive board as the fundraising coordinator. I have found a dedicated and awesome community of students through my involvement in our Habitat chapter at Conn.
Something almost magical whips through the air each fall, and it is always most prominent in October. At Conn, this time of year is celebrated with the return of alumni as well as the welcoming of parents, family and friends all coming to enjoy the exceptional beauty of the season. Though the changing colors of the trees alone is enough of a reason to visit campus, people flock from all over for a different reason: Fall Weekend.
Everyone in the Jewish faith has his or her way of ringing in the Sabbath. At Connecticut College Hillel, we try our best to accommodate everyone and their respective traditions. That said, on April 1, our Hillel group was invited to celebrate the Sabbath with President Bergeron. We dined, wined (using Kosher wine), sang, and ate so much that some of my friends and I joked about moving into the president’s house. Why is there no alternative housing option for such?
After completing a crazy busy week at Hillel, we craved the Sabbath dinner and its luxurious flavors. The salmon, sesame noodles, green beans and sweet potatoes were delicious, but did not compare to the cake that followed the meal.
Simon Luxemburg, president of Connecticut College Hillel said, “The purpose of the dinner was to celebrate Shabbat with community and delicious food.”
As a recently declared dance minor, I have decided that watching dance is a lot more fun when your friends are a part of the show. Why put your feet through the pain when you can sit back, relax and appreciate your peers put on a beautiful dance show?
On Friday, Feb. 26, I went to see “Pivot," The Dance Club’s production. Why was the show titled “Pivot”? In dance, we pivot when maneuvering our bodies to move elsewhere on the dance floor, as a way of transferring weight.
Saturday’s performances of “Coming From the Beast” confirmed the notion that words alone can carry immense power. The Women’s Empowerment Initiative touched upon tough topics yet carried them out sometimes with humor and sometimes with sad truths, but always with honesty. “Coming From the Beast” was a show that delved deeply into issues surrounding women and not only how they are portrayed in everyday life, but also the struggles and hardships many women face behind the unknowing eye. In my opinion, the show was a success because of the honest way that these issues were addressed. Each member of the cast was not afraid to swear, talk openly about sex, and feel deeply about what it was they were saying. The unwavering truths that were discussed helped the audience to really understand the message. If the show were a little more prudish and less honest, it would not have been the success that it was.
The show contained a whopping total of 97 Connecticut College female students. The crew had been rehearsing and getting the show together since the semester began, and their tireless efforts certainly paid off.