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Audience members look on as Brock Willard, senior of music education, introduces set of three songs called “Dogs Playing Poker”. This was the first time these songs were played for an audience on Friday, June 21. Seth Potter

Pittsburg celebrates a Musical Soiree

As part of the Pittsburg Music Fest, Pittsburg residents and Pitt State students celebrated a Musical Soiree. The Soiree featured music from various composers, including one student and one faculty member. 

Raul Munguia, professor of music, described a soiree as a celebration between musicians. The Soiree took place in the First United Methodist Church in downtown Pittsburg. 

A soiree is actually a musical gathering, usually, that is the tradition,” Munguia said. “But in this case, well if they’re here or home, it’s pretty intimate, so it’s a gathering where you usually have different people play. You have a party and then, ‘oh, I can sing, or I can play the piano, I can play the flute and the violin.’ It’s a party for musicians.” 

Mungia said something different about this Soiree was that there was only one “dead composer,” as the concert featured two of Pitt State’s own: Brock Willard, senior in music education, and John Ross, professor of music. 

“You know, it’s really nice for (students) to get this opportunity because they usually play in an academic setting and this is more about an artistic, more original,” Mungia said. “So it’s a little bit of positive in the way that he get exposure to present his work to students but soon to the communities, so I think it’s a good thing for him.” 

Whitley Chesney, graduate student in music performance, was one of the musicians who performed Willard’s piece, who is a fellow classmate. 

“I was actually really nervous,” Chesney said. “Brock’s compositions are very hard, but they’re very beautiful, so I was excited to work with Brock. It’s always nice to work with a composer who is there and you can ask questions to … it was very exciting.” 

The piece Chesney performed Willard wrote specifically for her voice. 

“It was different because I had asked Brock to write me something, so I was expecting something for me and this seemed to fit my voice very well,” she said. “Brock knows my voice, knows my range, so it was really nice having someone write something knowing I sing high notes better than I sing low notes most of the time. So, he was able to create something that really showcased that for me. It was really awesome.” 

Some Pittsburg community members also came to support the Pitt State students who played, such as Darlene McLaren and Linda Frihart, who both know Willard. 

“This is a wonderful week for the people of Pittsburg,” McLaren said. “If you just think about it this is really terrific.” 

Frihart said both McLaren’s and her husbands have been involved with Pitt State for many years, which is why they frequently attend events like the Musical Soirée. 

“Just support the arts in Pittsburg. We go to everything almost that ever happens from PSU and the auditorium. There’s a group of six of us usually, but we’re diminished tonight. … I’m glad we’re still having this, I hope it continues. It really is marvelous. 

Both McLaren and Frihart appreciate the university holding music events like the Pittsburg Summer Music Festival. 

“When we moved here, we came from the city and we had no opportunity to attend things like this because of the distance and the cost, and it’s so easy here.” 

For Munguia, he felt the performance and the overall, weeklong music fest turned out great for both the performers and the audience members. 

“Oh, it exceeded my expectations, really,” Munguia said. “The response from the people in the audience, you know I joke with people that I said you got perfect attendance for this, you get an A plus or A minus, because a few of them, maybe eight to nine people, haven’t missed the concerts and it’s really nice to see that. And different folks go to, you know, little more pop things to more classical, so that’s the idea behind the program in that we have something for everybody.” 



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