So many concerts, so little time.

This week has been full to bursting with not only classes, tests, and the normal business, but also many musical events – five in the last week!

To begin it all, last Saturday night my conducting class took a field trip to the Augusta Symphony.  Our professor Dr. Nabholz – who is also the director of the Choraleers – met us there, and we enjoyed an evening of four varied pieces by Barber, Takemitsu, Higdon, and Bernstein.  One of the highlights of the evening came after the concert, when we got to go backstage and meet the conductor, Shizuo “Z” Kuwahara!  It was exciting to be able to talk for a few minutes with someone who is making his living in the “real” world in music, and to be able to see a lot of what we discuss in class applied.  The entire evening was great fun, though, from the hour and a half drive to and from (especially the GPS troubles), to discussions of the concert as a class – the five of us and our professor – over frozen yogurt after the event.

My conducting class after returning to Erskine from the Augusta Symphony.

After the weekend, the week of concerts began.  Monday started with Erskine’s music department hosting a concert by Winthrop’s chorus; we began the event with Erskine’s Choraleers singing a few selections, then we let them take over the stage and sing several of their pieces.  As with the Intercollegiate Choral Festival the week before, it was rewarding and enjoyable to share music with and get to meet another college choir, especially in our own auditorium!

Tuesday night we hosted a Czech string quartet – the Talich Quartet.  They are professionals who are internationally recognized for their talents, and this showed – the concert was absolutely brilliant!  I do love string instruments, and their selections were well-chosen and exquisitely played.

Wednesday was the night off, and Thursday we co-hosted an organ recital with First Presbyterian Church in Greenwood.  Our organist was Dr. Craig Cramer from Notre Dame University, who demonstrated his great skill and experience on the instrument in the variety of styles of the pieces that he chose, as well as his expression in playing them.

Finally, Friday was a concert at home featuring our instrumental chamber groups and the Women’s Chorale.  Although we have more vocal than instrumental students in the department, it is always great to see what the latter can do!  None of the ensembles featured in the concert were very large – Women’s Chorale being the largest, at around a dozen – but they all showed that you do not necessarily need a large choir or symphony to make a great sound.

No one can say that there is nothing to do on campus on week nights!

Creepy Costumes and Concerts

Our door decorated for Halloween.

Halloween at Erskine may not mean much during the day, but in the evening there is no lack of festivities.  To begin with, this holiday is big in the women’s dorms.  There are there decorations put up in the buildings – in the lobbies as well as some individual rooms – and in the evening most of the girls dress up and give out candy.  That’s right, local children come trick-or-treating at Erskine in the dorms!  There are always crowds of children that come through, and we hand out treats and have activities in the lobbies for them to enjoy.

My Halloween costume - Medusa.

This year I wasn’t able to give out candy, because we had one of our final dress rehearsals during the same time, but my disappointment was somewhat abated by our (somewhat) traditional Halloween Extravaganza in the music department.  The concert begins at 11:00 and runs until around midnight, and features a variety of acts, instrumental and vocal, solo and collaborative.  It is always great fun to see so many people in all kinds of creative costumes – the professors as much as the students!  Some featured works this year were selections from Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony, Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony on four hand piano, Hedwig’s theme from Harry Potter on solo violin, a ghoulish medley by the Chamber Singers, a Bach Fantastia on organ, one of Papageno’s arias from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and the jazz band playing “Thriller”.  Costumes ranged from princesses to ghouls, Godzilla to Charlie Chaplin, Adele to Dexter Morgan, cowboy
s, wizards, and all kinds of creative characters!

My friend Lolly the Ringwraith playing "Hedwig's Theme" from Harry Potter.

Dr. Kuykendall as Dexter Morgan on piano(s), Peter as Godzilla turning pages, and Prof. Ellis the nerd singing one of Papageno's arias from Mozart's "The Magic Flute".











(Thanks to Allyson Bassett for a couple of her pictures that I borrowed from the concert!)


Fall Happenings

Busy times at Erskine!  The past week has been one activity after another, from a ghost walk through Due West to the traditional Big Man on Campus competition, tests to rehearsals, concerts to Homecoming activities.

Last Friday was the Fall Choraleers Concert, the first under our new director, Mark Nabholz, and what an evening it was!  We had a great turn out of family, friends, alumni, and students in the audience, and all the music sounded wonderful.  The in addition to the Choraleers, our main choral ensemble, the Chamber Singers, a small mixed ensemble, and the Fleetones, our men’s ensemble, sang a few selections.  One of the great things about being in the music department at Erskine is being able to use our talents to create beautiful music.  We make a point in Choraleers to sing for God, and we always pray that we will be able to touch our audience with our music.

Erskine Choraleers looking good!

On Saturday, after a day of homecoming activities, in the evening we enjoyed a concert of a different sort – Fall Fest.  On the steps of Bowie Arts Center, in the middle of the mall in the center of campus, students, alumni, and other members of the Erskine community enjoyed the music of bands Prettier than Matt and Sequoyah Prep School.  There was also hot chocolate and cider, as well as pumpkin carving for everyone to enjoy while listening to the music.  One of the highlights of the evening for me was seeing a former Erskine student, Jessica Skinner, singing and playing in the opening band, Prettier than Matt.  I only knew her for one year while in school, as she was a senior my freshman year, but it was fun to see what a former music major has been doing in the few years after graduation, and I even got to talk to her for a little while.

Prettier Than Matt Performing at Fall Fest

Sequoyah Prep School playing on the steps of Bowie Arts Center









There is hardly ever a shortage of excitement here!  Stay tuned for this week’s big event for me – the opening week of our fall play, Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Pumpkins carved at Fall Fest - Happy Halloween!


That’s right. The Erskine House of Pancakes, or rather, the Athenian House of Pancakes took over campus last night. As it has become a late night Erskine tradition, students love to take midnight trips to IHOP in Greenwood to enjoy the warm, tasty feeling of buttermilk pancakes! But why make them drive so far? Following the Jars of Clay concert that was held on campus last night, the Athenian Literary Society held a pancake extravaganza in the student center to raise money and serve the late night hunger needs of the students.

I definitely mastered the art of cooking on a griddle as the place was filled for THREE hours with orders coming left and right. I mean, who can beat THREE pancakes for ONE dollar? The Erskine community showed great support as we were able to bond with our newly inducted sisters. I can tell you, working in a kitchen full of women can tell you a lot about someone’s personality. After the chocolate chips have melted and been re-frozen and then crushed with a hammer while I explode a box of powder all over myself, all reservations go out the window:).

It is such a neat experience to live in a community that supports these unique avenues of fun and adventures because at Erskine, creativity is essential. However, I believe that is part of what makes this place so special and encourages the growth of students on this campus. Erskine is not a place where everything is handed to you. Rather, you must make an effort to seek out and take part in developing what interests you the most. As psychologist and major educational influence Jean Piaget once stated, “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive, and discovers.” Therefore, think, explore, dream, create – be a leader and not a follower!