On Saturday, Nov. 6 in the amphitheater at Binghamton University’s Mountainview College, Explorchestra hosted its first live performance in two years, titled “Shades of Autumn: Music in Mountainview.”
As described by Zachary Sloan, president of Explorchestra and a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, “Shades of Autumn: Music in Mountainview” was an event that was “for [BU] students, by [BU] students.” Explorchestra concerts are usually held once per semester and serve as a way for student musicians to conduct and perform their own compositions. However, since BU switched to remote learning in the spring of 2020, Explorchestra had to put their live performances on hold.
Sloan said Explorchestra members rehearsed inside a parking garage. Some days they would show up and find a car parked where the musicians were meant to sit. Due to increasingly cold weather and having outdoor rehearsals, Explorchestra was forced to reschedule their concert date for an earlier time, allowing them only seven rehearsals to learn six different compositions.
Despite these odds, “Shades of Autumn: Music in Mountainview” was a resounding success. The orchestra’s early deadline caused them to limit the number of compositions in their performance, which made room for additional acts in the form of three of BU’s student a cappella groups. The first half of the show was kicked off by No Strings Attached, BU’s Broadway and Disney cover group. Change of Tone, the University’s newest diversity-oriented a cappella group, was next, highlighting songs by artists of color and the LGBTQ+ community. The a cappella section was wrapped up by The Binghamton Treblemakers, BU’s coed alternative rock a cappella group. The segment made for an interesting and upbeat addition to the show, providing a nice shift in genre and brought some much-needed warmth and personality to the frigid amphitheater.
The second act of the performance was comprised entirely of Explorchestra’s compositions. “Phoenix,” composed by Chris DeDonato, a graduate student studying adolescent mathematics education, served as the theme of the entire performance. The piece’s triumphant brass and crackling drums echoed the relief of both the musicians and the audience for the orchestra’s long-awaited return to in-person performances.
The set continued with “Sunlight on a Broken Column,” which saw drummer and composer Leif Haley, a junior double-majoring in music and psychology, take a seat at the piano for a more introspective piece. “Toy Box” was composed by Sarah Melo, a senior majoring in environmental science, and “Switch the Channel” was composed by Julian Drevet, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering. The pieces took inspiration from the music of children’s media and cable television respectively, both making for entertaining performances. Brian Begelman, a senior majoring in biology, debuted his first composition in “Progress and Success,” a mature piece that fit nicely with the flow of the concert’s final act.
The performance concluded with “Sing Us a Song” by Nicholas Colucci, a senior majoring in mathematics. As the title suggests, the composition involved Colucci taking the microphone for a big band celebration of songwriting, performance and music.
Reactions from the concert’s audience were overwhelmingly positive.
Nicholas DeMatteo, a freshman majoring in integrative neuroscience, had nothing but praise for the show.
“I really enjoyed it,” DeMatteo said. “And I really do think it’s important for the University to continue to sponsor events like these.”
Tyler Agoda-Koussema, a freshman majoring in linguistics, favored the orchestra’s final two pieces.
“As a person who plays three instruments, I love to see people play in a group like this,” Agoda-Koussema said. “Music brings people together, it’s a universal language. Even if they don’t like the genre of music itself, everyone can find some type of hope in it.”