Applause and gratitude to Miami University’s department of music is rippling through Oxford, following the resounding success of “A Grand Night for Singing” at Hall Auditorium Saturday, April 17. Few campus departments can boast the kind of student/faculty collaboration reflected in this performance. In recent years there has been a lot of discussion in the academic community about the role of a university in our society.
One recurring idea is the university should provide outreach to the public. This is something Miami’s department of music does year after year. Not only does its dedicated faculty train the students, providing them with the tools of the trade, but these same faculty members then spend the necessary rehearsal hours — beyond their assigned teaching loads — required for quality student/faculty collaborative performances. The result is a product that, as the department of music mission statement declares, establishes this department as “a vital component of a public university founded on the liberal arts.”
The broad scope of Saturday night’s program represented the music of more than 30 illustrious composers, focusing on American musicals from 1929 to 2002. There were works by such composers as Rogers and Hammerstein, Bernstein and Sondheim, Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holiday, Andrew Lloyd Weber, George and Ira Gershwin, “Fats” Waller, Elton John and Tim Rice, to name a few. Three Miami music graduates in this performance, who have gone on to establish national and international careers in music, were Laura Smith, William Sauerland and Jonathan Baldwin. Other wonderful contributions by fine guest artists included music performed by soprano Calesta A. Day, as well as Tedrin Blair Lindsey, a pianist of remarkable talent and energy.
Congratulations to all of the students and faculty who participated in this project, to faculty members behind the scenes who aided in advance preparations, to Mari Opatz-Muni, associate professor, who provided expert coordination, and to Ben Smolder, associate professor and conductor, for his careful attention to the details of leading the performers in this truly Grand Night.