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Sounds of UD: University of Dayton Department of Music performs for Dayton community

By Carolyn Kroupa '22

Despite less than two weeks to prepare for a performance at Levitt Pavilion on Sept. 3 in the heart of downtown, the invitation was too good of an opportunity for University of Dayton Department of Music faculty and students to miss.

Nearly 200 students and 15 faculty performed for several hundred concert-goers, who listened and danced on the lawn during the two-hour musical showcase.

The performers included student groups UD Trumpet Ensemble, Pride of Dayton Marching Band (POD) and Dayton Jazz Ensemble; as well as the UD Faculty Brass Quintet, Faculty Jazztet, and faculty soloists Jim McCutcheon, guitarist and artist-in-residence; Minnita Daniel-Cox, associate professor and soprano; David Sievers, tenor and artist-in-residence and Andrea Arese-Elías, adjunct faculty on piano. Three May 2021 graduates also performed with the jazz ensemble. 

Musical performers have been deprived of live audiences for the past 18 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Having the opportunity to perform live again has been incredible,” said Derek Rempe, a senior music education major from Celina, Ohio, a POD marching band drum major. “The energy of our audiences in Dayton is truly unmatched and it's something we'll never take for granted ever again.”

Julia Randel, associate professor and department of music chair, said the audience response was gratifying. 

“People were up and dancing, including little kids, and you could feel people enjoying the music,” she said.

Students are used to performing for family and friends on campus, but showcasing their talents for the Levitt Pavilion audience enriched their performing experience and increased connections across the University and Dayton communities. 

Randel said the opportunity for students and faculty to share the stage at the venue provided students with valuable experiential learning skills. Performing and working with a professional sound and stage crew prepares students for their future, whether they plan to pursue a career in the arts or a different field.

“For students going into music, the more experience they have performing the better, especially experience with professional crew and seasoned professional performers,” Randel said. “Many non-music majors participate and the hope is to help foster their love and commitment to music and the arts.”

The majority of students in the ensembles are not music majors. Many chose to study in different academic fields, but still want to find community at the University through the music department. 

“We firmly believe doing music and thinking about the world in a different way is good for students as future engineers, doctors and any career path they follow,” Randel said.

Marching band drum major Nicole Ortenzi, a junior accounting and finance major and music minor from Brecksville, Ohio, plans to pursue a career in accounting at a major U.S. accounting firm after graduation.

“Being involved in music allows me to be human and explore those outlets I cannot always express in class,” Ortenzi said. “My future career is very extroverted and involves a lot of creativity, and POD fosters that within me.”

The UD Department of Music has other public performances planned for the 2021-22 academic year, including the Christmas concert on Dec. 7 and Celebration of the Arts planned for early March. Randel hopes the Levitt Pavilion concert will become an annual event.

“Performing for the greater Dayton community makes me grateful for this institution and all it has given me,” Ortenzi said. “Not only do I get to play great music and see new places, but I get to meet people from all walks of life. Having complete strangers compliment you on your conducting or playing makes you feel like the work you have been putting in over the years gets noticed. This art form gives me the space to honor my family, express myself and give back to the University that has given me everything.” 

For more information, please visit the UD Department of Music website.

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