Jazz, Academic Conference, and Orchestra

Hi everyone! I hope you are enjoying the more spring – like weather we have had in Worcester! It has been a busy couple of weeks, but luckily we had a small break beginning on Holy Thursday through Easter Monday (one of the many benefits of going to a Catholic school!) The week prior to Easter I performed with the Jazz Ensemble, and the week following was Academic Conference featuring the Holy Cross Orchestra!

Our jazz concert this year was one of my favorites (and apparently an audience favorite as well). We performed a variety of interesting repertoire, including “First Love Song” which I was most nervous for (it featured a minute-long piano cadenza right in the middle!). Luckily, “First Love Song” and the rest of the performance went well and everyone seemed to enjoy it as a last send-off before Easter break.

Students in the orchestra came back a bit early from Easter break for our dress rehearsal on Easter Monday evening, but it was helpful preparation for a difficult program! In addition to Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, we played a student composition by Matthew Pinder ’20 called “In a Timeless World.” I had never played a composition with the composer himself, so it was a neat experience to be able to ask him questions (and sometimes criticize his composing) during rehearsal.

We performed as part of Holy Cross’ annual Academic Conference, a day when classes are cancelled  and students who have been working on semester- or year-long projects present throughout the day. Our performance was part of several others, including WRATH, a play based on The Iliad by Liam Prendergast ’19, dance performances, and several academic presentations. The conference (and our performance) was overall a success!

Now it’s back to finishing up classes and trying to make it to exams. Check back in soon to hear about Spring Weekend and exams!

Music and the Jesuits, Prepping for Orientation, and Battle of the Bands!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the spring weather (on most days)! Spring is certainly in full swing here at Holy Cross — all the snow has melted, students are considering which classes to take next semester, and most are hard at work in libraries (sometimes outside!) in this last big stretch of the semester before Easter break. Luckily, we have had a few fun events to help balance out the last big push in the semester, including Music and the Jesuits and Battle of the Bands!

Two weekends ago, members of the Holy Cross and broader Worcester communities gathered in St. Joseph’s Memorial Chapel to hear a variety of musical works somehow related to the Society of Jesus. The event was primarily overseen by Prof. Daniel DiCenso ’98 and his “Music and the Jesuits” seminar, who delivered spoken lessons to give context and meaning to each musical work. Nearly every ensemble on campus  were part of the show as part of our ongoing celebration of the College’s 175th anniversary. It was a wonderful event that did justice to the incredible legacy of the Jesuits in both music and education as a whole — great job everyone!

My friends and I enjoying the nice weather at Battle of the Bands (Photo: Emma Grugan)

Just yesterday, in a different but equally enjoyable musical event, eight Holy Cross student bands took part in our annual Battle of the Bands, sponsored by the Campus Activities Board (CAB). In addition to bragging rights, the winning band gets to open for the big Spring Concert (this year featuring Jay Sean and Loud Luxury) on the last weekend of classes. After a beautiful afternoon of great music, dancing, and free pizza on Kimball Quad, SCONE was named winner of Battle of the Bands for a second year in a row! We are all excited to see them in two weeks for Spring Concert!

SCONE celebrating their Battle of the Bands win

I am also excited to announce that this past week I was selected as a Fall Gateways Transfer Orientation Leader for the fall of 2019. I am very excited to continue working with the amazing Gateways team later this year and for the opportunity to work with new transfer students!

In the meantime, I will be spending most of my time in the library and in Brooks Concert Hall rehearsing for both the jazz ensemble concert on April 16 and the orchestra concert on April 24. Check back in soon to hear about both of these musical events and more!

SBIP 2019: Pearisburg, Virginia

Hi everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your spring break (if you had one!). As some of you may know, I was lucky enough to spend my spring break in Pearisburg, VA as part of Holy Cross’ Spring Break Immersion Program (SBIP), an alternative spring break program for students to immerse themselves in a completely different community. I loved getting to know the people of Pearisburg as well as the students I traveled with, and I found out some exciting news while I was there!

Similar to my trip to Glasgow, VA last year, my time in Pearisburg was marked by a wonderful sense of community from both the residents from the town as well as the other Holy Cross students with whom I lived and worked.  Even though I knew none of the 8 other students who traveled to Pearisburg with me, aside from two informational meetings before our trip, we are now best of friends, bonds forged through living and working and reflecting together for a whole week. We are looking forward to many reunions together!

My group and I on a hike near our site! (Photo: Kara Cuzzone)

One of my favorite aspects of SBIP is that while we do complete some service work for the community, such as painting, yard work, and construction, the focus is immersion in a new and different culture and lifestyle. We were shocked by the generosity of the residents of Pearisburg and loved hearing about their different experiences and lifestyles living in rural Virginia.

My group and I painting the hallways of the local library (Photo: Federico Sorcini)

Also, while I was in Pearisburg, I was notified that I was accepted into the Washington, DC Semester Away Program for the Spring of 2020. I will be living and working in Washington DC, working full-time at and internship as well as taking a public policy seminar and writing a full thesis. I am very excited about this opportunity to live and work in DC especially during an election year!

Check back in soon to hear about my SPUD site and preparing for a Music and the Jesuits concert at the end of March!

Denis McDonough and Little Women

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying this (relatively mild) February! We did have one snow “afternoon,” as campus-sponsored events after 3PM were cancelled this past Tuesday for the safety of the community. Luckily, for many professors (and perhaps unluckily, for many students), most classes, at least, went on as planned. These past weeks also saw a visit from Denis McDonough, President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, an eight-show run of Little Women from the Theater Department, and more!

On February 6, the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture brought Denis McDonough to campus to speak to students, faculty, staff, and members of the community on the ongoing refugee crisis. Rehm Library was at capacity, and students (including myself) stood in the doorway, peered through the glass windows, or stood on the adjacent staircase to hear his meaningful talk. McDonough served as President Obama’s Chief of Staff from 2013-2017 and has been a trusted advisor close to the Obamas. A Minnesota native, McDonough spoke about his own family’s experience sponsoring refugees into the United States, as well as a recent trip to Jordan visiting a refugee camp there. His comments were both disheartening, at the state of the crisis, but overwhelmingly promising as he inspired listeners of all ages to engage and continue to be men and women for and with refugees specifically.

The whole cast delivered an amazing performance!
(Photo: Liza Goodman)

The past two weeks, the Theater Department offered an outstanding adaptation of Little Women–it was so good I attended shows both weekends! Student-actors had been preparing since September, and many arrived on campus early in January in order to make final touches to the show. All actors were well-suited to their parts and performed wonderfully; Catherine Zachary performed a particularly outstanding Jo. Most astounding was the costuming, as each dress and suit was beautifully sewn and stayed true to the time period.  It was certainly an astonishing show–congrats to all! 

Aunt March (Liza Goodman), Amy (Corinne Heffernan), Meg (Megan Siebecker), Marmee (Samantha Sweet), Jo (Catherine Zachary) and Beth (Sadie O’Connor) on stage. (Photo: Liza Goodman)

Additionally, this past week I took my first science exam in college for my Biology of Addiction class. It is certainly different than writing papers and learning music, but I am learning a lot! Check back in soon to hear about a contemporary music concert and final preparations for Spring Break Immersion!

 

 

 

Dance Marathon & Spring Break Reveal Night!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all staying warm during this cold snap in Worcester! The spring semester is in full swing here at Holy Cross, even if it feels like winter outside. In addition to keeping up with my courses (syllabus week doesn’t exist at Holy Cross), this past weekend I participated in Holy Cross Dance Marathon again and attended Spring Break Immersion’s Reveal Night.

Like last year, I spent most of my first weekend of the semester participating in Holy Cross Dance Marathon, or HCDM. HCDM is a student-run fundraiser for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, or EGPAF, which treats children infected with HIV from their mother. In support of this cause, my friends and I danced all night (or at least stayed standing) from 8PM on Friday to 8AM on Saturday and managed to raise nearly $13,000! It was a great night all around, thanks to our sponsors, the Office of Student Involvement, the steering committee, and the performers who kept us entertained throughout the evening!

My friend Julianna and I at Dance Marathon! (The theme was 80’s throwback)

The Sunday after Dance Marathon was one of my favorite events of the year–Spring Break Immersion Reveal Night! I had such a great time on participating in the Spring Break Immersion Program (SBIP) last year and I am very excited to go again. On Reveal Night, students find out where they are going, who their leader is, and who they will go with to their specific site! This year I am blessed to be going to Pearisburg, VA with a great group of other Holy Cross students, most of whom I have never met before. We will meet a couple more times before we depart in early March, but we will mostly get to know each other on the trip itself. It is one of my favorite Holy Cross programs and I am so excited to see what this year’s trip brings!

Check back in soon to hear about Little Women (the Theatre Department’s annual musical!) and getting back to my favorite SPUD site!

Looking Ahead to Next Semester

Hi everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and found time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends. In addition to preparing for next semester, I was also excited to work for a bit as a lifeguard and catch up with friends from home.

I am excited for all my classes this semester, and I can’t wait to get back to Worcester! This semester I am taking Theory of Music 4 and History of Western Music 2, both continuations of courses from last semester; Biology of Addiction, for my science common area requirement; and French Rebels and Revolutionaries in the history department. I already have reading for some of my classes! Additionally, I will be back on campus as a tour guide as well as volunteer at Nativity School Worcester (the best SPUD site, in my opinion) and playing in the jazz ensemble and chamber orchestra.

Before the semester really gets going, next weekend I will be participating in Dance Marathon for the second time for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). I will be staying up from 8PM on Friday night to 8AM Saturday morning, dancing (or at least standing) the night away. This event was so much fun last year, and I look forward to helping such a great cause with some wonderful friends!

Next weekend I will also attend Spring Break Immersion Program (SBIP) Reveal Night, where I find out where and with whom I will be spending my alternative spring break. I participated in this program last year and had a meaningful experience volunteering with a group of Holy Cross students in Glasgow, VA, many of whom are still some of my good friends. I am looking forward to meeting this new group of students and growing, learning, and serving with them in a new community this March!

That’s all I have before I move back to Worcester–check back in soon to hear about Dance Marathon and Reveal Night!

 

Ending the First Semester!

Hi everyone! I hope everyone managed to survive exams (if you had them) and is ready for the holidays! My first semester ended in quite a rush of events, from a brief break at Thanksgiving to a jazz concert, recital, Lessons and Carols, and of course final exams.

Before the stress of exams set in, students packed into the chapel for my favorite performance of the year, Lessons and Carols. This year was the our 30th year performing the concert at Holy Cross, which was started at King’s College in the UK in 1918. It combines nine Bible readings and selections from the college choir, chamber singers, organists, and orchestra, always opening with “Once In Royal David’s City.” We had been rehearsing for the performance in conjunction with the choir for about a month, and we were all so excited to share our work and the Christmas spirit! The evening was extra festive as Kimball served its special holiday dinner the same evening, featuring roast beef, mashed potatoes, salads, hot chocolate, and much more!

The chapel was decorated beautifully for Lessons and Carols (Credit: my mom!)

In the weeks following Lessons and Carols, as classes ended, students became more engaged with studying and preparing for final exams and papers. While students spend most of their days in the libraries, studying away, the rest of the campus focuses on supporting the students in whatever way they can. Holy Cross Dining serves midnight breakfast, first in Kimball with Jesuits helping to serve food and later in Crossroads with many deans and other employees in student affairs. Libraries are open for 24 hours, and many on-campus groups bring in therapy dogs and sponsor other stress relieving activities. Even if it doesn’t seem like it will ever end, all students were out of the rush of exams by December 15 to enjoy a well-earned break!

As much as I love life at Holy Cross, I am looking forward to spending time at home to relax and enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Merry Christmas!

Check back in soon to hear about Dance Marathon (quickly approaching!), moving back in, and my new classes!

Family Weekend & Orchestra Concert!

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful autumn weather that has graced Mt St James these past couple days (when it is not raining!). I don’t have too much to say, as I’m spending most of my time in the library working on big projects and papers. But I did manage to have some fun on Family Weekend and perform this past week with the orchestra!

Two weekends ago Holy Cross invited the parents and families of students to come to campus for a variety of events as part of Family Weekend. While the weather certainly was not on our side, most events went on as scheduled! Although tailgating was tough, our football team beat Lehigh 56-0 (even though the band had to leave at half time to save the instruments!). There were also a variety of musical performances, including the Jazz Ensemble Concert the Friday night (which I was a part of!) as well as a music showcase on Saturday afternoon and two a cappella shows on Saturday evening. Everyone had a great time in spite of the Nor’easter!

This past week was one of my favorite events of the year: the Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra concert! We worked on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 all semester and we were rewarded with a wonderful concert this past week. Thanks to everyone who attended! Our next performance is Lessons and Carols (my other favorite concert)–a big Christmas concert with the choir.

Check in soon for another November update about chamber music recitals and extended orientation events with Gateways!

Sophomore Retreat and Music Performances!

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful fall weather we’ve been having here in Worcester! These past few weeks have been super busy but  I found time to get to the Joyce Contemplative Center for a retreat and attend a couple amazing performances sponsored by the Music Department.

The view is still beautiful even on a cloudy day from the patio at the Joyce Contemplative Center

This past weekend I was able to get away from campus for a bit and visit the beautiful Joyce Contemplative Center, opened in September 2016. It’s only about 20 minutes from campus, but it feels like a world away! I visited for two nights as part of a sophomore retreat focused on reflection, and how to find purpose in our various paths at Holy Cross, especially as we face a lot of decisions about study abroad, internships, and declaration of majors. The retreat is rooted in Ignatian spirituality and is inclusive of all faith backgrounds and traditions, like all things at Holy Cross. Although I didn’t walk away from the retreat knowing exactly what I want to do with my life, I have the tools to be able to reflect and figure it out!

Declan (a senior leader) and some of the sophomores and I enjoying the view from the patio of the Joyce Contemplative Center

In addition to hearing talks from our wonderful leaders (shoutout to Declan, Lilly, and Caroline for sharing!), we also found time to bond as a group, including going on a hike on the trails around the center as well as playing games and doing puzzles after our final prayer in the evening. I was able to make a lot of new friends and strengthened many existing friendships!

Additionally, I attended two wonderful performances sponsored by the music department these past two weeks. One was Mike Monaghan and Friends, a jazz concert with our jazz professor, Mike Monaghan and some of his SUPER cool music friends (including a pianist for the Boston Pops and a drummer who played with Dizzy Gillespie). As always, it was a great take for jazz players as well as newcomers to the genre, and everyone appreciated their immense skill and talent!

Just yesterday, violinist Michelle Ross visited campus and played a concert with two of our Artists-in-Residence, Adam Golka and Jan Muller-Szeraws. Their program was beautiful as well as moving — truly one of the best performances I have attended here! In addition to performing some truly amazing music, Maestra Ross attended a rehearsal for the Chamber Orchestra and provided some of her skilled insights as a former guest concertmaster for the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to being a skilled player, she is a wonderful person and shared some meaningful art with us here in Worcester!

Looking ahead, this coming weekend is Family Weekend — a great weekend not just because families visit, but because there are a lot of fun shows and events for students and families, including a jazz concert, a cappella performances, and a football game! I also have my first big history paper due next week, so hopefully I can sneak out of the library and enjoy some of the fun events!

Fall on Campus: Apple Picking, Homecoming, and Fall Break!

Hi everyone, and happy autumn! I am so excited for fall this year because it is (in my opinion) the best time to be on campus at Holy Cross. These past couple weeks have been fall filled, from picking apples with my friends to midterms to tailgating and ultimately heading home for Fall Break!

Two weekends ago my friends and I piled into two minivans and drove about 20 minutes off campus to a local farm to pick apples. Even though we go to school in a city, rural central Massachusetts is never too far away! My friends and I enjoyed a hay ride, picking apples and (of course) taking plenty of pictures. We ended the day filled with apple cider donuts and many fond memories together.

My friends and I showing off our apples!

Additionally, September 30 was official fall homecoming for alumni. I enjoyed reconnecting with many (recently graduated!) friends and of course participating in the many activities campus had to offer. In addition to a pep rally and special homecoming Mass, my friends and I enjoyed tailgating and going to Holy Cross v Bucknell. We may not have won on the field, but it was still a great weekend for alumni, students, and families.

My friend Emma and I enjoying the homecoming tailgate!

After all the fun was had on the weekend, I spent my week in Dinand Library studying for midterm exams, like many of my fellow students. Because we have a whole week off following Columbus Day for Fall Break, many professors like to squeeze in exams to summarize the first six weeks of class. Although being off for a whole week in October is unusual, many students enjoy the opportunity to catch up on internship-hunting, travel to visit friends abroad, or simply relax at home!

That’s the news at Holy Cross for now. Read next time to hear about jazz concerts and preparing for my first (big) paper!