Oberlin Blogs

Music Appreciation in Three Acts

November 16, 2012

Margaret Saunders ’16

When I mention Oberlin to the adult friends of my parents who always seem to ask, "Where are you going to college?" but never remember the answer, I usually receive the following responses:

"Oh yes, I've heard of that! It has a conservatory!"
"Oh yes, the music school! What do you play?"
"Oh! ...Where is that?"

Disregarding the last answer, it's pretty clear from the number of times I've been mistaken for a con student that we are famous for our musically-talented student body. But when you are surrounded by such talent, you may feel desensitized at times to the constant ebb and flow of performance-related events. The shock of listening to your double-degree friends describe their credit load wears off. Music becomes less of a "big deal."

It's a very good thing, then, that Oberlin always brings the magic--and the music--back.

Over Parents Weekend, I attended three musical events in a row. The first two I was, admittedly, dragged to by friends. The last was suggested by my parents. But collectively, all three made last weekend one of the best I've had at this college so far. Let me break it down.

An ensemble performs various German and Russian opera pieces in Act 1, and then puts on an excerpt of the puppet opera Don Quixote in Act 2. Larger-than-life-sized costumes made of cereal boxes, duct tape, foil, and other recycled materials create the amazing and colorful forms of Master Peter and Don Quixote (they're worth checking out: Don Quixote is on display in the window of the shop next to the Feve) while elegant Indonesian-inspired shadow puppets tell the story of Don Gayferos and Melisendra in a puppet theater made especially for the production. Needless to say, I spent the entire performance with my jaw on the floor. The creativity and dedication to a one-night performance was awe-inspiring, and I'm still impressed that they managed to pull such a complicated production off without a hitch!

Caught in between a rock and hard place in deciding whether to attend a slam poetry session or an Obertones concert, I chose the Obertones and have no regrets. (No offense to poetry lovers, I promise I'll attend a slam eventually!) The Obertones are an all-male acapella group, and I have been converted to a fully-fledged fangirl. The boys put on an energizing show including covers of Katy Perry's "Firework," Rusted Root's "Send Me on My Way," medleys of the Backstreet Boys and old cartoon theme songs; I was hooked rather easily. The Obertones explained their history in between sets through a skit laden with biology jokes that had me giggling for hours, and I left the show wondering if everyone on campus is secretly an excellent singer.

It was confirmed that everyone on this campus is secretly an excellent singer: as I watched the opera Il Mondo della Luna with my parents, I realized that one of the stars was that girl I've stood behind in line at Dascomb for two months. Il Mondo della Luna now holds the honor of being my first opera, and it set a very high bar for all subsequent operas. It capped off a great evening of showing off Oberlin to my parents--who are now convinced that every penny of my tuition money is being put to good use--and set in stone my appreciation for the musical community of this college. And the Gangnam Style I mentioned in the summary of this post? Performed flawlessly in the finale.

So to all you non-con kids, don't be ashamed if you don't have perfect pitch. Music is for everyone: enjoy what our school has to offer, even if that means staying inside and playing Chopsticks on the piano. Who knows, maybe your friends will have some drums, guitar, or kazoo! This is the perfect place to strike up a band.

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