In the midst of the accreditation crisis, you may have heard a rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s classic song “We will survive” passionately played from a worn piano in the Creative Arts
Building while faculty member Helen Dilworth feverishly sang with an operatic coloratura soprano.If the Accrediting Commission for Community Colleges was looking for a reason to keep City College open, the music department gave them one. The small room A-133 in the Creative Arts Building was packed at the “SOS: Save Our School” concert by students and faculty. Pianists, ukelele players and singers sang, strung and drummed to honor City College, to which they attributed many of their successes.An adaptation of “This Land Is Your Land” compelled the room to rise and sing in unison.“So money’s short now, and so is patience/Who in their right mind cuts education?/Go send a message to our legislators/This school belongs to you and me,” they sang. “This City College, like many others/It taught our fathers, it taught our mothers/We’ve got to fight back, it’s our community/This school belongs to you and me.”
Most of the musicians learned to play their instruments through City College’s music department.
Opener Dilworth’s dramatic stage presence set the scene for what was a compelling low-production concert. Madeline Mueller of the music department played many of the piano accompaniments, along with fellow faculty member Judy Lee. Impassioned singers expressed the talent City College helped cultivate, expressing many students’ and faculty’s uncertainty about their college’s future.
“Singing is what ferments forward thinking, I’m not gonna say a revolution,” Mueller said with a wink.
“Good Morning Heartache,” a dour jazz blues song originally sung by Billie Holliday, was performed by student Clara McDaniel. “Good morning heartache/Thought we said goodbye last night,” McDaniel sang deeply and soulfully, possibly referring to the looming uncertainty about the college’s fate.
Electronics instructor Brian Fergus lightened the mood with a ukulele. “Who would serve the 47 ½ percent?” he sang to the cheers of the audience.
Cellist Sascha Jacobsen softened the mood with his multi-layered original piece with a quartet of violinists and percussionists.
Aside from music, voter registration forms were available and attendees were encouraged to vote in the upcoming election with attention to Proposition A and Proposition 30.
“Students ask me all the time what they can do to help save City College,” Mueller said. “If you want to save the school, stay here. it’s as basic as that. It’s not the buildings that make City College, it’s the people.”