Mahogonny Ensemble's Open Rehearsal

Vassar College’s MODFEST concluded with the Mahogonny Ensemble’s open rehearsal Saturday February 4. Mahogany is a student-led, extracurricular musical group that purposes to write, play and appreciate modern music; the ensemble includes strings, percussion and woodwinds. Senior William Healy directed the ensemble.

 This year marks the third time that the ensemble has opened up one of its rehearsals during Modfest. Allowing an open rehearsal achieves one of the main goals of MODFEST, to give students an opportunity to appreciate each other’s work and allow the space and time for their creativity to be recognized.

 They opening piece, entitled Bibelot, was composed by senior Jeremy Bloom. In his introduction, Bloom said he plays Balkan music on his own, and while he was not intending the piece to be entirely Balkan, he realizes that it happened anyway.

 Bloom’s Bibelot was well-received. Off-beats and pizzicato marked this rhythmically lively piece. The melody line was passed throughout the instruments and changed from short, crisp notes to sections where the melody line was slow and each note drawn out.

 At its conclusion, the audience was invited to ask questions.  Sections were re-played and examined in detail.  As the conversations unfolded, I watched the interactions of the students performing and those observing. The support and encouragement that the students expressed towards one another was impressive. They shoed respect for each other’s work, but the critiques were honest.

 The second piece was composed by sophomore, Connor Mulhern, entitled Prelude. While Mulhern said he was still in the middle of writing this piece, MODFEST’s open rehearsal gave him an opportunity to hear how it sounds. He said his goal was to achieve an impressionistic style yet making it his own.  The performance, in which he played the piano, sounded dynamic, with textual contrasts between soft and loud, fast and slow. At several points one could really hear the deep bass notes that often get brushed over. This shows how he layered the instrumentation to create a full, complete sound.

 The room was again opened for questions or comments. Overall, this open rehearsal made it evident how willing the students are to cooperate with one another and appreciate each other in the art world. MODFEST could not have chosen a more emblematic event to close their festivities. For it is a rare venue indeed for students to have the chance to test their materials as well as go out on a limb artistically, while receiving full support and appreciation.