Brockport Symphony Orchestra Has a Night on Broadway

Michele Pettis—On Thursday night, the Brockport Symphony Orchestra played “A Night on Broadway”. The evening featured songs from Show Boat, Porgy & Bess, Carousel, West Side Story, The Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, and My Fair Lady. The orchestra spotlighted performances by vocal soloist Mary Wojciechowski and trumpet soloist Stephen Jessup.

The concert was both entertaining and informative. During a small delay due to an uncooperative microphone, Mary Wojciechowski shared some information about the famous composer Richard Rogers. She said that when he worked with Oscar Hammerstein, Oscar would write the words and Rogers would compose the music after. But when Rogers worked with Lorenz Hart, he would write the music and Lorenz would add the lyrics after. Rogers and Hart had amazing success in their years working together, but nothing that compares to the lasting impact of Rogers and Hammerstein’s music.

We also learned that the song “My White Knight” from the stage musical The Music Man had to be changed when the play was made into a movie in 1962. Meredith Willson’s writing partner Franklin Lacey didn’t like the way the movie was being made so he refused to allow his work to be featured. Lacey had written the beginning and ending of the song “My White Knight”. Meredith Willson’s part, the bridge, made it into the movie as the song “Being in Love”.

Both the microphone snafu and the anecdote about the song change served as a reminder that life’s what you make of it. You can be frustrated that things aren’t going how you planned them, or you can roll with the punches. Often, things work out just fine in the end and you save yourself so much aggravation.

The Brockport Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Concert will be on December 5 at 7:30pm.

The Faculty are Friends, Not Foes

Michele Pettis—As a college student, it’s easy to get caught up in our own little, busy, worlds and start to forget that the person lecturing in the front of the classroom is an actual human being and not some very life-like automaton. Every now and then it’s good to get to know the flesh-and-blood side of the faculty. The semester is only a week old, and I’ve already had two great opportunities to do just that.

Friday, August 23, was Academic Convocation. As a transfer student, I had never gone to this event before but wanted to take advantage of the opportunity while I still could. (As a senior, you start to notice your last chances at things in college life.) I spoke with several faculty and staff members before the event and they all said it was their favorite. They enjoyed it even more than graduation.

I started milling around the SERC taking pictures (I also “live tweeted” the event) when the students were herded in by their group leaders.  The Brockport Symphony Orchestra played some stately music and the faculty entered in their robes. Approximately 1,500 people were there to hear remarks by Dr. Halstead, interim provost Dr. Scheidt, and several student and former-student guest speakers. The ceremony concluded with a rousing performance from the Sankofa African Dance and Drum ensemble.  As the students left the House of Fields they were applauded by the faculty and the music of Sankofa It was a very inspiring send off. I’m sure the students were ready to start their college careers with enthusiasm.

The Tower Fine Arts building hosts performances and art exhibits. On Thursday an exhibit of faculty work premiered. There were some striking works of painting, mixed media, sculpture, and glass. Many of the pieces were very personal and revealed so much about its creator. It was amazing to me that members of the faculty were willing to bare their souls like this for their coworkers and students to see. (The Department of Art Faculty exhibit runs until October 13.)

So the next time you have the chance to get to know one of your professors, take it! You never know what you might discover.  Plus, a few brownie points never hurt anyone. 😉

Writers Forum – Take a Hike

Michele Pettis—On Wednesday, May 1st, Cheryl Strayed spoke about her book Wild. The college presented her with the Art of Fact Award. The lecture was held off campus at Temple Br’th Kodesh in Brighton.

I have not yet read Wild, but it is on my summer to-read list. I can’t wait until the semester is over and I can check out her book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after a personal breakdown. There have been many times this semester that I’ve wondered what on earth I was doing. Being pulled in so many directions by work, school, and friends hasn’t been easy. There have been many times when a solitary walk in the woods sounded very appealing.

While Wild isn’t a how-to book on hiking, I am curious to read it because I would like to start hiking this summer in anticipation of going to New Zealand in the winter.

In her talk, the author shared some of the things she has learned since the book was published. She has traveled all over the country talking about her experiences. She has heard from many of the people that she met on her trek.

I’m very jealous of the determination that she had in order to finish the long hike. I hope that I’m as dedicated as she was when it comes to preparing for my big trip in the winter.

My Twitter Relationship

Michele Pettis—I was perfectly content with my relationship with Facebook until Twitter came along. It’s like when there is suddenly a new kid in your class and you can’t take your eyes of him/her. Your current friends are great and all, but this new person represents so much mystery and intrigue.

I joined Twitter in November of 2009 because I was curious. I’ll admit that my first interactions with the new kid were a bit awkward. I found 140 characters to be very limiting (you may have noticed I’m a bit long-winded), and I felt like I was just sending words out into the ether of cyberspace and no one was listening. But when I started following groups I was interested in (anything about the Red Sox, New Zealand, or writing), I felt more connected. I even started to get followed back by people just like me.

Twitter and my friendship was growing nicely. I thought of Twitter as social media only and didn’t consider the news aspect of it until Tiger Woods had his infamous car accident. It was actually the New Zealand Herald’s tweet that I saw first.

But Twitter and I hit a rough patch during the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent manhunt. Twitter seemed to fulfill my want for information about this terrible situation, but for every informative tweet there were dozens more that were pure speculation or opinion. On Friday of that week I happened to wake up around 4:30 and glance at my phone. I was sucked into the manhunt for the rest of the day. In between classes I was checking the situation. They had locked down basically the entire city of Boston and some of the surrounding areas. It felt like they must be on the verge of capturing someone at any moment. But they didn’t and the hunt dragged on and on. I got so burned out by reading tweet after tweet about what might be happening that I gave up. I almost didn’t even watch the news when they finally did apprehend the suspect. It had gotten to be too much for me.

In the days that followed I spent less time with Twitter. We didn’t officially break up or anything. It wasn’t really Twitter’s fault that someone had tried to hurt the city that I love. But I just needed some space.

This morning I woke up with a burning question: does my parking permit work during the summer session? I poured over Parking and Transportation’s website. No answer was to be found. I send them an email, but who knew how long that would take to be answered, if it was ever answered at all. But then I had a lightbulb moment. This might just be a job for my friend Twitter. I tweeted my question to @BportParking and, sure enough, I had my answer in less than five minutes.

Twitter and I are on good terms again. Just like any form of social media, you have to know the pros and the cons and you can’t let it take over your life.

Now the question remains: what to do with my old pal Facebook?

(For the record, Parking and Transportation answered my email in 57 minutes which isn’t too bad considering I wrote to them before 8am.)

Scholar’s Day – Dream Travels

Michele Pettis—I want to go to New Zealand. Bad. I’ve wanted to go there since I learned that those awesome mountains and fields featured in The Lord of the Rings were not computer generated. I’ve watched every Travel Channel show on New Zealand. I’ve bought half a shelf’s worth of New Zealand travel books. I’ve hung a 3’x4′ map on my wall. But I’ve never actually gone there. Yet. 

On Scholar’s Day the Office of International Education presented 6 students’ experiences with Study Abroad. I’ve done a study abroad program before and it was awesome. I recommend it to anyone who can. One of the many great things about Brockport is that they offer so many Study Abroad programs. These six students all had radically different experiences all over the globe. But one thing was true of them all: they wouldn’t change a thing. Two of the students there had been to New Zealand before and I enjoyed hearing about their trip. I had actually just put down my deposit for the winter session trip to New Zealand. I can’t believe I’m finally going to go!

My dream will come true in just 255 days! Not that I’m counting. 😉

Scholar’s Day – Do It Yourself

Michele Pettis—For her Honors project Madeleine Bryant decided she wanted to write a novel. And she did. As a want-to-be writer I’m totally in awe of this. Madeleine presented her book, Nation Nine, on Scholar’s Day. She explained her inspiration for writing. She had done some doodles in her notebook and they seemed to grow personalities. From this humble beginning her novel took shape.

Eventually she finished her novel. When it came time to edit it she used her friends, family, and professors. This saved her money. Publishing a book can be a pricey proposition. She ended up using an online service to publish the novel herself. I love the idea of this. It seems so freeing to know you can present your work to with world without going through a big publishing house.

Now I just need to find time to put pen to paper.

Scholar’s Day – Zombies

Michele Pettis—Ever wonder where zombies come from? It turns out the answer is Haiti.

Kent Lester made his Honors presentation on the topic of zombies. It was clear that he had a passion for the subject, but thankfully not for eating brains. Haha

But seriously. The idea of American zombies has come from the Haitian idea of zombi. There are similarities but like so many cultural ideas, it has changed as it has migrated to the US. Kent read a plethora of books about the subject and had many on hand for the presentation. He also enlisted the help of his friends to pass out programs and gummy brains to the audience. There were also a handful for students dressed as zombies complete with “blood and guts” on them. I honestly don’t care much for zombies, but it was fascinating to learn more about them nonetheless.

And the gummy brains were delicious. Just hope I don’t develop a habit! haha

Chat Live with our Bloggers Today! 4 pm

Today’s the day you can chat live with members of the Winging It blogging team. If you have questions about life on campus from what the food is like to handling workload to where the cool spots to hang out are, now’s your chance to ask. Visit our chat page at 4 pm today  (April 12) and send in your questions. Our bloggers will do their best to answer them.

Extremely Local Music

On Wednesday there was another installment of Music at the Library. I can’t stress how much a love this idea! In my travels across campus, I can squeeze in a quick session of live music. How many people can say that?

This month it was a duo of hammered dulcimer and Celtic harp and it was lovely! My mother knows the dulcimer player, Mitzy Collins, and we’ve had her Christmas CD for years. It was a cool experience to hear her play in person.

The duo played some lovely Irish reels and folk pieces. I was blown away when Mitzy informed the audience that many songs were composed in nearby Genesee county in the 19th century. When I think of “classical” music I assume it comes from Europe, but that’s not always true. Not only is this not technically classical music, but it was composed right here in Western New York.

I can’t wait for the next Music at the Library!