March 30, 2022
Montclair at The Met
Cali musicians perform on the stage of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Arts, Homepage News, University
University Singers soloists and djembe drum players open a performance at the Met with a traditional Zulu song of welcome. From left, Tim Nuzzetti, Ethan Smith (baritone), Nick Scafuto (tenor) and Julian Dippolito announce themselves to the audience, asking permission to take the stage and usher in the rest of the choir.
Cali musicians won’t soon forget their night at the museum. “There was something different about this performance,” says Nick Scafuto, a lead tenor with the University Singers, who along with the Wind Symphony and Jazz Ensemble, performed on March 19 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “You’d have to be trying very hard to not feel the electricity in the room.”
“Montclair at The Met” featured a concert of fast-paced, diverse genres in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. “Every single artist on stage was in top form and playing and singing their hearts out,” says Scafuto. “It was the kind of performance that said, ‘Here we are, New York! Where do you want us to play next?’”
Heather J. Buchanan conducts “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” arranged by Alexander Lloyd Blake, featuring Lisa Bremer (mezzo-soprano soloist) and Thalia Suleymanov (soprano soloist). The a cappella piece fuses two musical styles that are innately American – folk spiritual and jazz – to create a new perspective with this familiar melody.
The University’s Wind Symphony, conducted by Thomas McCauley, performs the entire suite of Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. In remarks reflecting on the musicians’ return to the world stage, Anthony Mazzocchi, director of the John J. Cali School of Music, thanked the leadership of the museum for collaborating on “a model for how we will move beyond the multiple disruptions the pandemic has leveled on our profession.”
Lornaa Morales, a second-year transfer student in the Music Therapy program, accompanies the Jazz Ensemble. “Sharing our art form in a venue full of people who were there to appreciate the arts was one of the most rewarding feelings ever,” says Morales, whose primary instrument is classical percussion. “At the height of the pandemic we rehearsed in a parking garage in hopes that we might soon return to normalcy, so this experience was an absolute gift.”
Montclair’s Jazz Ensemble, directed by Oscar Perez, performed a swinging set, including “Jojo’s Mojo” by Marcus Printup, “Ding Dong Ding” by Bob Brookmeyer and “Trouble Man” by Gaye & Mintzer.
The University Singers’ program opened with a traditional isiZulu song “Bayasibiza” arranged by Michael Barrett and Mbuso Ndlovu. “Bayasibiza” is a traditional greeting song and as is customary in Zulu culture, when entering a village, visitors need to announce themselves by calling out to the chief of the tribe. In this rendition, the University Singers acted as the “visitor” and asked the audience if they may enter the stage in order to entertain them. Shown center are baritone Ethan Smith with arms spread wide and Tim Nuzzetti.
Gavin Ard, a senior Music Performance major, plays his “Mambo” solo from Symphonic Dances from West Side Story with the Wind Symphony. Thomas McCauley conducts.
University Singers perform Eric Whitacre’s “Water Night,” an a cappella choral work inspired by the work of Mexican poet Octavio Paz. The evocative imagery uses water as a metaphor for love with its power to transform. “Water Night” uses his characteristic tone clusters, with the choir split into 15 parts at the climactic moments.
The University Singers perform “Janger,” a Balinese traditional dance introduced to the island around 1925. This folk song is typically sung by Balinese youth while dancing the Janger together during evening parties. “Janger” (Balinese for ‘humming’) features the sequence of trancelike humming, dancing and singing from the girls participating in the dance, with boisterous physical and vocal outbursts from the boys.
Swaying dancers waving fans in “Janger,” a Balinese traditional dance.
Montclair’s arrangement of the traditional Balinese dance movements were staged and taught by Harrison Smith, a senior Musical Theatre and Linguistics double major (center, front row.)
Alex Desrivieres, center, takes his solo on saxophone.
Nick Scafuto, a lead tenor with the University Singers: “Here we are, New York! Where do you want us to play next?”
Photos by University Photographer
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