Students shine at 2012 President's Concert

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Roughly 170 Penn State student-musicians experienced a rare opportunity on Tuesday night, as they performed before an enthusiastic audience in Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh. The event was the sixth annual Penn State President’s Concert, a collaboration among the School of Music, the Alumni Association and the Office of the President.

“It was absolutely fabulous singing up there. I loved the opportunity,” said Nathan Owen, who played Grandpa Moss in the Penn State Opera Theatre’s portion of the program. “Singing in a hall with such great acoustics is really great. It requires a different kind of singing, a different kind of listening to yourself. It’s really interesting, and really cool.”

The Penn State Opera Theatre, under the direction of Ted Christopher, performed Act 1, Scene 2, from Arron Copland’s “The Tender Land.”

“I’ve never been to the opera before, but I liked it,” said Natalie Hamilton, a student at the University of Pittsburgh. Hamilton came to the concert because she’s from State College and knows a lot of the students performing in the Glee Club. “The last time I was at Heinz Hall I saw Ben Folds. To see a lot of people I know performing here is really special.”

The Glee Club, conducted by Christoper Kiver, opened the concert, performing a selection of songs that included a commissioned work from alumnus Mark Lehnowsky, and an Australian piece that was accompanied by percussion “whirlies” and a didjerido.

“They did a wonderful job,” said Connie Sewchek, whose son Nicholas is in the Glee Club. She said the family has been to Heinz Hall a lot since they’re from the Pittsburgh area. “To be able to see my son on this stage is amazing, very impressive. He’s gotten to sit in the audience here, and now he gets to see things from the other side.”

Bonnie Olson of Pittsburgh came to the concert to see her daughter’s boyfriend perform. “It’s so exciting to see him perform on stage at Heinz Hall. It’s wonderful to have that opportunity. Penn State has an amazing music program. I’m very impressed,” she said.

After a brief intermission, the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gerardo Edelstein, performed two pieces, after which they were joined on stage by the members of the other ensembles to lead the audience in the singing of the Penn State Alma Mater.

“It was pretty amazing,” said Will Harrison, who plays cello with the Philharmonic. “It was really nice to play in this hall, where we could hear ourselves so well. It’s very different from performing in Eisenhower Auditorium.”

The concert was preceded by a reception hosted by the Alumni Association, where attendees heard from Roger Williams, executive director of the Alumni Association; Sue Haug, director of the School of Music; and Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

Haug told the alumni that even with his busy schedule, Erickson often is seen at School of Music events, and long has been a supporter of the arts at Penn State.

“I don’t believe you can be a great university without being a great university of the arts,” said Erickson, who thanked the alumni in attendance for their support. “Your support of this event says a lot about how you value the arts at Penn State.”

For photos from the event, visit http://live.psu.edu/flickrset/72157629116064634 online.

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Last Updated February 29, 2012