Last Sunday, the music fraternities of Christopher Newport University got together to put on a charity concert featuring their musical talents to raise money for a local organization right here in Newport News. Soundscapes is a nonprofit educational program that teaches music to children in the local communities. In addition to tickets, the music fraternities also sold candies and snacks and had a raffle for basket prizes to raise money for Soundscapes.
To start off the concert, a representative from Soundscapes in Newport News came up and spoke a little bit about what the organization does and who it affects in this area. During his talk, he introduced a young cellist from the program who, due to donors like the CNU music fraternities, was able to perform at a concert in LA last yard. She, and many other students, are able to access incredible opportunities and resources because of Soundscapes. The cellist then called out a group of her fellow students, and together, with their teacher accompanying them on drums, they performed a song from West Side Story. I loved being able to hear students from the organization that the money for my ticket was going towards. They were incredible for students who were so young!
After this, there were a couple of student duets by people from the music fraternities. The first was a duet from The Greatest Showman. I loved watching it because both of the singers were super dynamic, putting an incredible amount of emotion and movement into their performance.
Another student duet followed, this time the students sang a dramatic and mournful rendition of This Grill Is Not a Home from SpongeBob, with one of the students also playing the keyboard. It was a great piece, even if it was from a kid’s show. It had the perfect combination of humor and drama, as well as a great deal of skill and talent involved.
To take a break from the student performances, a local band from the area called Band of Tipsy’s was introduced to the stage. The group consisted of four guys: one of drums, two guitarists (one of whom also sang), and a bassist. They sang two songs for us during their time on stage, both of them covers and both of them full of energy: Van Halen’s Panama and Animal by Def Leppard. The guys were clearly very passionate about their music, which reflected well in their performance.
Following Tipsy’s performance, the concert began the performances by the Greek organizations and their different classes, starting with Kappa Kappa Psi’s Mu class perfoming Toxic. The group was all wind and brass intruments, but that definitely fit the piece well. The loud brash of the trumpets was perfect for the melody line, while the swan-like clarinets were perfect for the underlying harmonies. It was clear that the students put a lot of effort and had a lot of fun with the piece, since they moved with the music and played with incredible skill.
Next up was Nu Kappa Epsilon, which featured one of my very close friends who also was the one to invite me to the event. I was super excited to see her and her group perform because I knew how much work they put into it. All dressed in black, the singers formed a semi-circle, a pianist setting up on the keyboard behind them. With one of the girls keeping tempo, they sang a beautiful rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, perfectly capturing the bittersweet message of the song in their soft and gentle harmonies.
Followed by another Greek vocal group, Sigma Alpha Iota took the stage in two lines, performing an a capella round, utilizing the great acoustics of the stage and balanced harmonies, as well as their incredible skill. I had never heard the round that they sang before, but I loved every part of it. It was playful, but also clearly very technical.
As the largest of the organizations, Phi Mu Alpha served as backup as one of their students sang the melody from The Longest Time. The student was incredible and definitely earned their spot at a solo. Around halfway through, a different student took the stage and finished the second part of the song. This student was just as talented as the first, and overall, both of the solos made the performance very memorable.
After this, there was a short break as the student volunteers set up the stage for the following performance by Kappa Kappa Psi’s Jazz Band, who played the classic Nina Simone ballad I’m Feeling Good, with a trombone soloist playing the melody. The trombonist was absolutely incredible! In addition to his amazing talent, he was definitely into his performance, dipping and swaying with the music. By the end of the song, his face was red with exertion. The rest of the band backed him up the whole way through, playing just as passionately through the song as he did, adding to the already breathtaking performance.
With the stands still out, the rest of Kappa Kappa Psi performed yet again as a full group rather than just one of the classes. Following their theme of classic throwbacks, this time they chose the 80s hit Sweet Dreams. It was interesting hearing the usual synthesized harmonies played on trombones, trumpets, and clarinets. I loved the sound it produced, making a song I already loved even better in my mind.
To wrap up the concert, all four of the Greek fraternities gathered on stage, both instrumental and vocal, to perform another personal favorite of mine: Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. The song is a bittersweet melody about the constant passage of time and the desire to hold onto each treasured moment, the student host commenting on how that only seems more true for college students, who only have four fleeting years together on campus. With all four groups, the harmonies were chillingly beautiful. It was the perfect way to end the concert!
I really enjoyed my experience attending the Soundscapes Charity Concert here at CNU, and I definitely hope that more students will come out and support their fellow students for a good cause next year.