John Moreland ’18 delved into the history of Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy in his presentation “How Music Propelled a Society Forward” last Sunday in Kemper Auditorium. Moreland, who has spent his life participating in music and theater, stumbled across the thesis for his Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) scholar proposal while exploring the archives during his work duty assignment.
Paige Roberts, Director of Archives and Special Collections, served as Moreland’s faculty advisor for the project. She was especially proud of how Moreland utilized archival research and connections to alums to give an oral history presentation on music’s role in the convergence of the two schools.
Roberts said, “The shift that John showed in his project that happened when William Thomas came here after the two schools merged during the 1970s and how that opened up the music department in terms of diversity, diversity of the student body, diversity of programming and outreach locally within Massachusetts, and even globally, was just a really cool thing to see. That all played out through his interviews and the archives research.”
Moreland felt closely tied to the topic of his presentation because of this discovery in the ways that Andover history mirrored his own current experience, despite being so distant in time.
“I feel like if I were to come away from Phillips with one thing it would be my music experience [and] the people I shared those experiences with, both peers and faculty. Hearing similar stories, although there was a lot of evolution in the music departments of Abbot and Phillips in the greater Andover community, those stories are consistent through the years that people really remember music as a grounding part of their experience,” said Moreland.
Max Rigby Hall ’18, an attendee of the presentation and a friend of Moreland’s, appreciated how Moreland dismantled the myths behind why the two schools interacted.
“There was definitely an emphasis on that the reason they were coming up the hill was not to intermingle with boys, and to see the Phillips kids. It was more to create good music so it was interesting to hear John’s take on how allowing for mixed-gender groups was all about creating better music and how he thinks that was really successful and is now the co-head of an all-gender acapella group. I think that was really cool to see his own crossing over with the topic of his presentation.”
Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20 is a member of Fidelio, the co-ed acapella group on campus, and connected to Moreland through his leadership as the 2017-2018 Fidelio Co-President.
After attending the presentation, Izuegbunam left feeling a strong connection to the students who craved the chance to make better music, since her previous school didn’t provide those resources.
She said, “The way I can appreciate music here is different from the way I could appreciate music at my old school. We didn’t have a chorus. I didn’t have that chance. John talked about how the students at Phillips and Abbott also wanted that opportunity and wanted the chance to expand upon and really delve into their music while they were going to school and how one of the first signs of co-education was music and knowing that whether you’re up the hill or the down the hill music can still bring you together.”
Rigby-Hall also believes that Moreland stands as a model for performers and has always influenced him to put forth the best version on himself while on stage.
“He epitomizes what theater is to me. [He is] such an open-hearted, kind, wanting people to succeed kind of person, and he very quickly embraced me,” he said.
Rigby-Hall adds, “He has this way of making you want to step out on stage with him, there’s definitely a certain aspect of performing with him where you want to put your best self out there because he always is.”
After spending a year researching for his project and having completed his CAMD Scholar presentation, Moreland is now at a crossroads between celebrating his hard work and missing the excitement of his discoveries.
Moreland said, “There was the feeling of relief because now I can focus my energy on other things but I already feel nostalgic toward the whole project because I’m never gonna have the opportunity to do exactly that again and I enjoyed it so much. The way I think about it is kind of like the way I feel after a show or concert it’s like oh my gosh that was wonderful we put so much hard work into that and then you perform and then it’s over.”