Throughout Camino Hall, however, it’s crunch time. The fingers are moving quickly across the piano keys. A vocalist is working on the perfect pitch. String instrumentalists are collaborating with horn players to get their sound down, note for note. Practice time, whether it’s in small rooms, the 600-seat Shiley Theatre or Founders Hall’s French Parlor, is precious right now. Yes, it’s May and that means it is showtime for the University of San Diego Music Department’s students.
“Our students need to perform,” says David Harnish, USD music department chair, professor and musician. “They don’t get better just by playing in a classroom or in rehearsal. They need to play in public. They need that experience in order to grow.”
The time for those experiences, those opportunities, has arrived. Starting Wednesday, May 1, the department will host seven public concerts with eight different styles during the month. The department will also host a classical India dance program, the Gatha Odissi Dance of India, by the Orissa Dance Academy on May 11 in Shiley Theatre. This performance is free for USD faculty and students, but $25-$30 for non-USD individuals through www.indianfinearts.org.
Public USD music offerings in May will highlight a diverse set of programs within the department. Here’s the concert list:
• Wednesday’s show features both the Jazz Ensemble and the Mariachi Ensemble. The concert, held in Shiley Theatre, starts at 7:30 p.m. and is co-directed by Ella Steinberg and Serafin Paredes. Tickets are on sale at the door only for $10 general admission, $8 for seniors, faculty, staff and alumni and $5 students with ID.
• On Thursday, May 2, the Chamber Music Ensemble, under the direction of Professor Angela Yeung, performs at 7:30 p.m. in the French Parlor. Ticket prices are the same as the May 1 show.
• Tuesday, May 7 is a Gamelan Ensemble concert with the music of Bali, Indonesia as directed by Harnish. The gamelan (students pictured at left) is an ensemble of metallophones, gong chimes, cymbals and drums and features interlocking musical parts. Dance is also part of the concert. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. in Shiley Theatre. Ticket prices are the same as above.
• A second May 7 concert, one co-sponsored by the Music Department and the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, is the Tallis Concert, will take place in Founders Chapel at 6 p.m. It is directed by Ed Basilio and features the Choral Scholars. It is free for all.
• The May 8 concert is an opera workshop where students perform staged scenes from the works of Mozart, Purcell, Weill and Gilbert and Sullivan. The show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. in the French Parlor, is free to all.
• A lunchtime student recital will be held at 12:15 p.m. in the French Parlor on May 9. This free show showcases students who are enrolled in individual lessons presenting selections from their semester of work.
• The USD Concert Choir and Choral Scholars, under the direction of Edwin L. Basilio, will perform their annual spring concert at 7 p.m. May 10 in Founders Chapel. Tickets are available at the door only for $10 general admission, $8 for seniors, faculty, staff and alumni, and $5 students with ID.
• The final show is a free digital audio concert at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22 in Shiley Theatre. This features student compositions from the Digital Audio Composition course.
The concerts provide a little something for everyone and in some cases, it’s a chance to explore something new. For the student musicians, those “who have a gift, a talent, and something not everyone can do,” as Yeung says, it’s the thrill of performing live and in public. Faculty members such as Adjunct Professor Ron Shaheen, who works closely with USD student vocalists such as those who will perform in the opera and student recital events, said he often feels like a music parent at this time of the year. “It’s almost as nerve-wracking because you want them to do well.”
Harnish (pictured, right) is in his second year as leader of the music department. He said these concerts let the community —on and off campus — see that USD does have a lot to offer musically and that its program should be a consideration for students with an expressed passion for music.
He’s also working on ways to diversify USD’s relationships with the San Diego music community. The university has relationships with the San Diego Opera and San Diego Symphony and the mariachi ensemble has performed publicly this spring to great reviews. Harnish’s Gamelan expertise provides opportunities for music students and non-music students to do study abroad in Bali. He’s scheduled to co-teach an Honors Program course, Music in the Borderlands, with Ethnic Studies Department Chair and Professor Alberto Pulido.
“We’re looking at different kinds of things, wanting more things to happen that revolve around music,” Harnish said. “I might be a little biased, but I’d kind of like the whole world to revolve around music. We’re starting to do it locally and we’re hoping to build out, let people know about the opportunities that USD has for music.”
— Ryan T. Blystone