Under the illuminated glow of fairy lights, Lyla Guthrie ’23 gently accompanied her soprano voice on a ukulele. As she strummed the last chords of her original song, “Five Months,” the packed audience burst into applause.
On Sunday, February 16, in the Timken Room, “The Sunset: Café and Lounge” showcased various student performances of original voice and piano pieces. Differing from a traditional student recital in its coffeehouse-inspired decor and ambient atmosphere, the event also hosted an impromptu open mic afterwards.
According to audience member and friend Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20, Guthrie’s piece was proof of all of the performers’ hard work.
“[Guthrie’s] song, in particular… was awesome. I take AP theory in the room right above [the Timken Room], and… I see [the songwriting class] when I leave. So this is really interesting to see this class always working, and to see the fruits of their labor,” said Izuegbunam.
Holly Barnes, Instructor in Music and Director of Performance, was responsible for organizing the event. Her initial goal was to provide an informal venue for students in her songwriting course, Music-380, to showcase their work in front of a wider audience.
“I hoped the kids were super pumped just to walk into this space and see how we transformed [the Timken Room]… It’s nothing like anything on campus. I thought, ‘If we have 30 to 40 kids the first time we have this, it will be a great success.’ We had over 100 people,” said Barnes.
Henry Crater ’20 performed his original composition, titled “My Place.” Despite having never heard many of the other performers play or sing before, Crater still felt a personal connection to their efforts. He also commented on the importance of the event in highlighting the accessibility of original music at Andover.
“People can step into [Graves Hall] or into any [musical] setting and feel like they’re part of the event, and they’re participating audience members. Music is for everyone,” said Crater.
Barnes mentioned the importance of showcasing a diverse array of student performances and musical styles, citing the chance to explore music outside of a formal setting.
“For many people, I think the music feels more accessible, and it’s unique in that almost everything that was performed tonight was written by [the] performer… People feel like they can understand or appreciate what’s happening and feel a part of it, instead of, ‘I’m sitting here. I have to be quiet.’ I think they both have their place. This is just something we don’t have enough of on campus,” said Barnes.
Izuegbunam appreciated the opportunity to witness her peers share their passions for creating and performing original music.
“It’s one thing to be creative, but I feel like everything in my life is now filtered through, ‘You’re doing it at the Academy.’ It’s really nice that everyone was able to put in the time for all of this hard work, and [for] something they’re very passionate about,” said Izuegbunam.