By Roxanne Bequio
On Halloween, City College’s music department performed a free concert in the Creative Arts Building. Billed as “More Than Talking Heads”, the concert featured a diverse selection of music, with faculty members playing classical, jazz, opera and songs of the Renaissance to a crowded room of students and faculty.
The mood of the concert was set when music teacher Larry Ferrara dashed down a side aisle to the front of the room wearing a long, black wig, later claiming to be “a cross between Alice Cooper and Howard Stern.”
“I’ve performed quite a bit before but I was a little bit nervous because I had this costume on. I wanted to be in the Halloween spirit,” Ferrara said. “I think the faculty did great. We have a lot of talent in the department.”
With Ferrara on guitar, music teacher Helen Dilworth lent her powerful voice for “Come Again”, a beautiful melancholic love song arranged by Renaissance composer John Dowland. Ferrara then performed Dowland’s “Fantasia” on his guitar, a light tune of gentle lulling.
“When we started this, it was just a matter of the staff wanting to do something special for their students, so they could see that staff members just don’t talk, but also have a lot of skills to help students,” Dilworth said.
Dilworth explained it was difficult to decide on a day for the event due to the conflicting schedules of the faculty, but that everyone could agree on Halloween as an appropriate date.
One highlight of the concert was when violinist Anthony Blea performed a stirring solo rendition of Bedrich Smetana’s energetic and quick paced “Aus der Heimat,” or “From my Homeland,” to roaring applause.
Other performances included Michael Shahani accompanied by Les McWilliams on piano, for Erich Korngold’s “Pierrot’s Tanzlied,” which is a gloomy piece about yearning and reminiscing over the past, and Harry Bernstein on flute, with William Severson on piano for “Freylach No. 8,” an upbeat song typically heard at Yiddish weddings.
In an unforgettable rendition of Gioachino Rossini’s “Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti” or “Funny Duet of Two Cats,” music teachers Mary Argenti and Dilworth sang along with Music Department Chair Madeline Mueller on the piano. All three donned cat ears for the piece, which is comprised only of the word “meow”. Their performance was a refreshing and hilarious break from the more serious songs performed, and drew plenty of laughs. Argenti and Dilworth took on the roles of two stubborn cats hissing and clawing at each other, and ended without a cat fight.
The music department also paid tribute to retired faculty member Neyde Azevedo, who passed away over the summer. Mueller played Astor Piazzolla’s “Flora’s Game,” a sweetly sad song which evoked somber emotions and memories of Azevedo.
“One of my favorites was definitely ‘Dulce Maria’ when Charlie McCarthy played on sax. That was amazing,” said City College student Yarilis Vázquez Guzmán, who watched the concert because of her love of music. Accompanied by Lenny Carlson on guitar, McCarthy performed the arrangement, which he composed for his wife.
The concert ended with the audience and performers coming together to do “a Pumpkin Carol.” The words “Dress Yourself So You Look Scary” replaced the traditional words of the festive tune “Deck the Halls.” Fa la la la la.
“I don’t know of any other music department where the faculty can get up and be just so professional, so wonderful, so varied! Really, they’re special. We had a lot of fun,” Mueller said.