School of Music Benefit Concert

NI theater and event critic Shelby Welsch said the UNI School of Music concert was “super fun” to watch.

SHELBY WELSCH, Theater and Event Critic

The 36th Annual Scholarship Benefit Concert, hosted by the UNI School of Music, was a spectacular celebration of the current successes of students and faculty in the music program at UNI, but also acknowledged the accomplishments of UNI’s loyal alumni.

The concert was held last Friday, Sept. 22, in the Great Hall of the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC).

Although I am already quite familiar with the distinguished music program that we have at this school, performances by our Northern Iowan Wind Ensemble, Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, UNI choral groups and other small ensembles absolutely blew me away (no pun intended) on Friday night.

One thing that I was not expecting when I stepped into the colossal doors of the very appropriately named Great Hall was to be serenaded by a couple of successful UNI alumni flutists.

Rebecca Johnson and Nicole Molumby graduated from UNI several years ago and have since traveled all across the country performing and teaching. The pair played two gorgeous pieces to near perfection.

The first piece, “Maya,” composed by Ian Clarke, was a slow, meditative piece that I believe was written to soothe your soul and make the hairs stand up on your arms. It was an experience anyone would be lucky to witness. The second song, “Trio,” by Blaz Puchihar, was more quick-paced and boasted a sing-songy “flute-off” duet pattern, but was just as lovely as the first song.

Another noteworthy performance was by our very own Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra and the UNI Singers. This performance was very special, because the composer, UNI music faculty Nancy Hill Cobb, was able to attend the concert and explain why she wrote the piece.

She explained that the piece was inspired by the Oklahoma City bombing that took place 40 miles away from her home in Oklahoma back in 1994 when she worked at Oklahoma Baptist University. Cobb discussed how she couldn’t believe that somebody could possess enough hate in their heart to perform such a heartless and malicious act.

With the combination of the colorful array of instruments in the symphony and the powerful and dazzling sound of the UNI Singers choir, I was told a beautiful story through song that reminded me that although we live in a world where terrible things happen, there is still so much good that gets underappreciated. In short, every single person in this world has the power to make a change for the better.

Although many of the performances were incredibly touching and emotional, some of them were just downright goofy. One of my favorites was a piece called “Dead Elvis” by Michael Daugherty, in which faculty member Cayla Bellamy dressed up as a fine-looking Elvis and jammed out on her bassoon alongside her music faculty buddies.

It was super fun to watch and showed that “orchestra music” can definitely be fun to play and listen to. I honestly had such a good time just watching a bunch of well-seasoned musicians who have literally been playing their instruments for more than half of their lives kick off their shoes and get down and dirty with the music.

When the musicians are having fun, the audience is going to have fun too — hands down.

Although going to the “symphony” isn’t something a lot of college students see as a fun time on a Friday night, I had a great time going on an emotional rollercoaster with all the ensembles that performed at the 36th Annual Scholarship Benefit Concert.

Such amazing talents come out of our very own university, and I think that’s something we should all be proud of.

If anybody is looking for something cool and different to do on their weekends off, go to one of the UNI School of Music events; you will not regret it.