Alums return for encore performances in spring concerts

Vincent Buscemi '99
April 25, 2017

“Encore!” takes on new meaning this spring as Hanna Martin ’13 performs as narrator of “The True story of Cinderella” with the Singing on Stage class and Vince Buscemi ’99 conducts the band for “Nilesdance,” just as he did as a sophomore more than two decades ago.

It’s spring concert season on the Hill, and many of the performing groups boast alumni members.  But having Martin and Buscemi perform in key roles marks a new standard for a Music department known for its close connections with alumni.

Martin, an attorney with a major Manhattan law firm, and Buscemi, digital communications and social media director for McDaniel, could not be more thrilled.

Alums return for encore performances in spring concerts
Hanna Martin '13 returns to the Hill as the narrator of Cinderella.

“Working with my professors again is going to be fun. The workshop is just fun — there’s no other way to put it,” says Martin, an English and Music double major who remembers the inordinate amount of joy she got from tossing confetti in the air every time she entered or exited the stage as a college junior in the role of the Fairy Godmother in the same Cinderella musical.

“It’s a mix of all different types of students and majors and skill levels and everyone just enjoys themselves singing together and sharing a love of music.”

Whether they major in Music or another of McDaniel’s 70-plus programs of study, students can, and often do, continue or begin studying an instrument or voice during their years on campus. After graduation, many find ways to keep music in their lives, but not all have ready opportunities to perform.

Buscemi, a percussionist, co-founded the band Three Sheets and the Wind, and plays harmonica in the band’s frequent gigs in the Carroll County area. Still, he found that he was just a tad rusty when faced with the challenging, and always changing, time signatures in the “fast and furious” piece by David Holsinger.

“I had to dust off the cobwebs and get into training to keep up with the tempo,” says Buscemi, who taught himself percussion after studying clarinet in elementary through high school. “It’s really rewarding though. We’re all out of breath at the end of it since it is such a high energy piece.”

The first time Buscemi conducted “Nilesdance,” he was an English major and percussionist in band and jazz ensemble with a hankering to step onto the rostrum and conduct band. He asked McDaniel band director and Music senior lecturer Linda Kirkpatrick to give him a chance. As a result, Kirkpatrick designed the first conducting independent study — and after weeks of practice and mentoring, Buscemi stood before the band, baton in hand.

“I love engaging with the musicians — 21 years ago and now,” he says.

Alums return for encore performances in spring concerts
Original program and flyer announcing Vince Buscemi's student conducting debut in 1995.

Like their counterparts in other departments, McDaniel’s Music faculty frequently hear from alums across all decades. They return to perform with musical groups and often dot the concert audiences. Each year, at the close of the choir’s holiday concert, director Margie Boudreaux asks choir alums to join in to sing “Still, Still, Still.”

Every fall, Kirkpatrick has a “meet the new band members” night. She stops the rehearsal early. New members get their food and return to the band room while those musicians who have been in band for at least a year — including a few alums from the ’80s — go get their food and return to find, at Kirkpatrick’s request, someone new who is not in their band section and introduce themselves.

“Current students realize that once they graduate, there is no reason to stop playing their instrument,” says Kirkpatrick, who has been with the Music faculty since 1981. “I have freshmen who are amazed that alumni from the ’80s are still involved with the instrumental music program here at McDaniel.”

The Singing on Stage — formerly Opera/Musical Theatre Workshop — class allows for impromptu guests, says senior lecturer Kyle Engler. She welcomes these former students back to join in the class fun since many, like Martin, do not have careers that offer performance opportunities.

“Many of my former students keep in touch,” Engler says. “Christy Thomas is a Music History professor and sings with choral groups, but we try to meet for a voice lesson when she’s in town.”

When Martin takes the stage as narrator for Cinderella, it will be a nostalgic moment for Music professor Robin Armstrong.

“It’s a bit like passing the baton — I narrated Cinderella when Hanna sang the Fairy Godmother,” says Armstrong, who encourages life-long music participation. “Our alums returning strengthens the connections between the Music department and the folks who we don’t get to see every day anymore but who touched us.

“The fact that they return demonstrates that we touched them, too.”


Upcoming student musical performances:

For information, call 410-857-2599.

• Musical Theatre/Opera Workshop, “Singing on Stage,” class performance of selections from operas and Broadway musicals, April 30, 7 p.m., WMC Alumni Hall, Studio Theatre.

An Evening of Madrigals, May 1, 7:30 p.m., Baker Chapel.

Jazz Night, May 4, 7 p.m., Decker Center Forum.

College Band Concert, May 5, 7 p.m., WMC Alumni Hall, Main Stage.

Gospel Choir Concert, “I Need You to Survive,” May 6, 7:30 p.m., WMC Alumni Hall.

Vincent Buscemi '99 will conduct "Nilesdance" during the college band concert on May 5 at 7 p.m. in WMC Alumni Hall.