Students and faculty showcase talent in Common Hour concerts


Courtesy / Maya Pontes

Common Hour Concerts, open to all, offer the Fine Arts Department students a chance to showcase their musical skill for the campus community.

Maya Pontes, Crier Staff

The Fine Arts department is home to a somewhat hidden gem: Common Hour Concerts. The shows occur regularly throughout the school year from 12:30 to 1:15 pm in the Dana Center’s Koonz Theater, otherwise known as “common hour.” On Wednesday, November 9th, a concert was held at its usual time featuring faculty and students performing with a variety of instruments and voices. While relatively unknown by the general student population, the concerts provide a unique opportunity for both students and faculty to showcase their skills and for audience members to witness the rich artistic talent on campus, making the productions a window into the vibrancy of the Fine Arts program. 

The Common Hour Concerts began back in 2014 when, after years of physical developments to the Dana Center, students were able to take music lessons for course credit. The concerts were instituted as a means of exhibiting the work accomplished in those lessons. Professor Sean Parr, a member of the Fine Arts department, who remembers the beginnings of the concerts: “The common hour was new in that year, too. It was the idea of having lunchtime concerts that are low pressure for the students and faculty to perform, but also a nice opportunity to share music in a way that hadn’t really been done before on campus.”

Professor Molly Lozeau, a lecturer also in the Fine Arts department, is currently the main organizer of the concerts. She says that the performers for each show are largely chosen based on their professor’s discretion. For example, for students taking a lesson, their professor may ask if they would consider performing their piece. Professor Lozeau emphasizes that no one is required to perform at the Common Hour Concerts, but “some students are really interested in trying to perform more, so for those who are a little more open to taking that next step, it adds so much to their musical experience.”

While the act of performing on stage for an audience that can vary in size depending on the week may seem intimidating, the Fine Arts department is filled with support and encouragement. Professor Lozeau says, “the students and faculty are always so supportive. Everyone wants them to do well.” Students experience this support not only during the concerts themselves, which are complete with quiet attentiveness and loud applause, but also in the process of preparation. 

Senior Natalie Bender, a Great Books and Music major, who has had her fair share of experiences in the concerts, echoes Professor Lozeau’s statement. “To say they go the extra mile is an understatement. The fact that they care about students is evident everyday.” With Saint Anselm being the third full-time college Bender has attended, she remarks that she has “never had faculty like this.”

The faculty also get to display their talents during the concerts, something that both Professors Lozeau and Parr believe is incredibly beneficial not just for the concert-goers, but especially for their students. “It’s nice for them to see professors practicing what they teach,” Professor Parr states. “It shows students where they can go in the future.”

The concerts prove to be a rewarding experience for all involved. “I like seeing the students when they’re really proud of how they did on stage,” Professor Parr says. Professor Lozeau echoes a similar sentiment: “Even if there are three students on the program and five people in the audience, that feeling of ‘Oh, I did it! It was great,’ I love that.”

The audience also gets the experience of seeing what artistic talent is housed within the college. At the concert on November 9th, six students and two faculty members gave performances. Professor Lozeau executed the Vocalise, Op. 34, No.14 by Segei Rachmanioff (1873-1943) on piano along with Professor Heather Braun-Bakken on violin. Bender played viola as a part of a string quartet completed by violinists Professor Braun-Bakken and sophomore Rachel Bender, and sophomore cellist Taoighan Othot. More student performances included senior Soleil Skehan’s cello solo, Rachel Bender’s piano solo, and senior Jacqueline Bentubo and sophomore Emma Durand’s solo vocal pieces.

For those who may have missed the concerts that have occurred so far, Professors Lozeau and Parr say not to worry–there will be a Spring concert celebrating French musicians during Francophone month and an African American Heritage concert during February to honor Black History Month. For those who wish to get a look into the art sooner, Bender will be showcasing her senior thesis project, Amahl and the Night Visitors, an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, on December 4th at 4pm in Koonz Theater. Any students who find themselves interested in being part of a concert in the future are encouraged to consider taking one of the many Music courses offered next semester.

Prof. Braun-Bakken (left) and Prof. Lozeau (right) perform a duet on violin
and piano during Nov. 9th concert. (Courtesy / Maya Pontes )