Pearl River’s Fine Arts season ends on a high note 

April 29, 2024

Upbeat popular music, jazzy tunes, and instrumental melodies reverberated in the Brownstone Canter for the Arts at Pearl River Community College during the final two student performances of the school year. Wind Ensemble, featuring the PRCC Concert Band under the direction of Mike Bass and Jerry Pickering, was held on Tuesday, April 16. Spring Pops was held on Tuesday, April 23, featuring the Jazz Cats under the direction of Bass, and a trio of vocal groups, the Voices, the Currents, and the Rapids, under Dr. LaDona Tyson’s direction. 

Wind Ensemble

stage with dozens of musicians sitting in chairs or standing.
PRCC’s Wind Ensemble for 2024 takes to the stage in the Brownstone Center for the Arts.

The Wind Ensemble provided a variety of instrumental pieces with wood paneling along the top of the stage reflecting the vibrant sound out to the audience. Selected pieces included “Galop” from Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Poncheille, “The Cave You Fear” by Michael Markowski, “Code Talkers” by Dr. Earl Fox (a local composer from Picayune), “Carpe Diem” by Steven Pyter, excerpts from “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky and arranged by Jay Bocook, “Celtic Wedding” by Jeremy Bell, and “Light Cavalry Overture” by Franz von Suppe and arranged by Henry Fillmore. The piece “Paper Cut” by Alex Shapiro incorporated the use of black lights and student musicians holding up reflective papers as part of the performance. 

Wind Ensemble performs “Paper Cut” under black lights with inclusion of paper held or thrown in the air.

“These young adults have worked incredibly hard this semester to perform this music to an incredibly high standard,” said Bass. “They have diligently prepared their parts in limited rehearsal time to produce a wonderful concert of very diverse music. We’re so very happy with their growth this semester!” 

Marshall McCoy is a dual-enrolled student from Pearl River Central High School who attended the concert as part of his Music Appreciation course requirement. 

“I thought it was a very wonderful concert,” said McCoy. “It had a very exciting song selection and carried elements of wonder with some selections. 

“My favorite piece was ‘A Song for Friends’ by Larry Daehn. I loved Mr. Bass’ dedication of the song to the sophomores and super sophomores of the group. It carried very strong elements of friendship and the unbreakable bonds and adventures you experience as friends.” 

Spring Pops 

The Voices opened the Spring Pops concert using the entire stage for their choreographed movements of the a cappella pieces. Jonathan Freeman, Noah Hartfield, Madison Mims, Jack Moeller, and Lila Reed rotated through the selections as soloists. 

Fourteen young men and women sing on stage while holding microphones.
The Voices combine vocals and motion for lively performances.

Selections during the first half of the performance included “Hate to Be Lame” and “Shoulder to Cry On”, both arranged by Rob Dietz. Additional songs arranged by Wilson Smith included “Ain’t My Fault”, “Crazy on You”, and “Open Arms.”  

Thirty men and women stand in a row behind microphones on a stage.
Alumni joined current members of The Voices on stage for two selections.

For “Let Somebody Go” arranged by Wilson Smith and “Midnight Sky” arranged by Rob Dietz alumni singers joined the current members of The Voices on stage. 

The Jazz Cats’ performance came on the heels of their participation at the Bill Evans Jazz Festival in Hammond, Louisiana, held on April 18. They were adjudicated for their performance and participated in a clinic by the featured artist, saxophonist Laura Dreyer. 

PRCC Jazz Cats at Bill Evans Jazz Festival 2024. Photo by Phillip Colwart.

“Rarely at the college level in band do you get ratings,” said Bass. “But we chose to go there and be rated. I am very proud to say that they got all superior ratings from all the judges.  

“They’ve worked incredibly hard to produce these results and we’re excited and happy for them and the jazz program here at PRCC!!” 

Jazz Cats perform at Spring Pops 2024.

Selections performed by the Jazz Cats during the second half of the concert included “Make Swing Your Thing” by Doug Beach, “One Note Samba” arranged by Paul Murtha, “Work Song” arranged by Erik Morales, “Quality Time” by Gregory Yasinisky, “Invitation” arranged by Erik Morales, “Pure and Simple” by Jeff Jarvis, and “Stompin’ at the Savoy” by Mike Kamuf. Solosits included Jacob Hodges on Alto Sax, Brandon Dufrene on Tenor Sax, Samuel Cerniglia on Trombone, Landon Berryhill on Trumpet, Joshua Perez on Guitar, Brennan Sullivan on Bass, Joe McHenry on Drums, and Dr. Andrew Gilstrap on Vibraphone/Drums. 

Between selections performed by the Jazz Cats, the Voices returned to the stage with some selections featuring the all-women group, the Currents, and the all-male group, the Rapids. Soloists included Susanna Argueta, Haliey Cronin, Jollie Holcomb, Kaylyn Kelly, Madison Mims, Jack Moeller, Lila Reed, Ruthie Ramsey, Halie Slaydon, and Carlyn White. 

The Currents sing at Spring Pops.

“Chandelier” arranged by MaryAnne Muglia, was performed by the Currents while “Wouldn’t Come Back” arranged by Rob Dietz was performed by the Currents with the women of the Voices. “Sound of Silence” arranged by Rob Dietz was performed by the men of The Voices and the Rapids. Other songs performed by the Voices included “Want You Back”, “Dreamin’ with a Broken Heart”, and “Women of Country Medley”, all arranged by Rob Dietz. 

The Rapids and men of The Voices perform.

Ian Quinn is a freshman at Pearl River who came to the concert with several friends. They consider themselves the “Brownstone Baddy Squad” as they enjoy coming to all the performances. 

“I thought the evening was really jazzy,” said Quinn. “They had a lot of variety and honestly, I could sit through another show. 

“My favorite piece tonight was “Open Arms.” Lila was amazing and just knocked it out of the house.” 

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Article and photography (unless noted) by Laura O’Neill.

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