Every year, when classes come to an end and finals are just around the corner, Muhlenberg’s best and brightest join together for the Honors Convocation, where those who were recommended receive various awards for academic achievement. There are many different honors bestowed by all of the departments, but there is one award that can only be achieved by proving yourself in a competition.
This is the Class of 1969 Competition. The Class of ‘69 Competition is a musical contest held every year in the spring, facilitated by the music department and only open to students who have been recommended to compete by their instructor. It began in 1980 when several 1969 alumni got together and created the endowment fund necessary to hold the event and award the winner; with great appreciation and respect to the founders, aspiring musical students at Muhlenberg have been performing in the Class of 1969 Competition for the past 38 years.
This competition was hosted and co-judged by Dr. Paul Murphy, the Chair of the Music Department; other judges included Drs. Andrew Ardizzioa, Christopher Jackson, and Kassandra Hartford, some of the full-time music professors here at Muhlenberg, and accompanied by Vincent Trovato, the school’s full-time piano accompanist.
The competition is open to anyone in the music department, whether you are an opera singer or an instrumentalist. This year’s competition featured a magnificent line-up of impressive musicians performing truly engrossing classical pieces.
Samantha Tropper ’18, a soprano recommended by Christa Warda, started off the night by singing the somewhat saucy aria “Una Donna a quindici anni” from Cosi fan Tutte written by Mozart.
Joulian Mone ‘19, a tenor recommended by Brian Ming Chu, followed Warda up by smugly singing “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon,” a lovestruck aria from another of Mozart’s operas Die Zauberflote.
Next came Anna Birna Turner ‘18, recommended by Elaine Martin, playing the intricate flute part for the movement Allegro Moderato from the sonata “First Sonata for Flute & Piano” by Bohuslav Martinu.
Then there was Carly Dove ‘18, a soprano recommended by Christa Warda too, who sang the coloratura intensive aria “Caro nome” from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi.
Playing the violin without accompaniment, Margaret Jackson ‘20, recommended by Paul Windt, performed the iconic solo conflict movement “Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001”(Adagio and Fuga) by Bach.
Finishing out the night was Maggie Capone ‘20, a soprano recommended by Megan Durham, singing the revolutionary piece of its time “Gretchen am Spinnada,” composed by Franz Schubert, as one of the first arias to only use the script from a poem or drama as the lyrics. The source material for this aria was a scene from part one of the drama Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Also scheduled to compete, Bailey Fulginiti ‘18, a soprano also recommended by Christa Ward, was not able to perform due to getting sick at the last minute, but she would’ve sung “Der Holle Rache” from Die Zauberflote by Mozart.
The winner of this year’s competition, through an adept demonstration of challenging music, is Carly Dove ‘18 singing the aria “Caro nome.” An award for “Performance of Distinction” was given to Margaret Jackson ‘20 for her outstanding interpretation and execution of Bach’s “Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001.”
The Class of 1969 Competition is a little gem of a musical performance that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who experiences it, whether they be inclined towards classical music or not. This event really showcases a distilled look into what the best of our already quite elite music department has to offer the world in the years to come.
Lasting only an hour and featuring only a handful of performances, this competition exudes a comfortable and friendly atmosphere set in the fairly intimate Recital Hall in the CA. When all these factors come together this competition becomes a rare chance to listen to professional level classical music in a very idiosyncratic way that is not usually associated with these kind of high-class opera or symphony performances. It’s not everyday that you can sit a few feet away from an opera singer while they delicately produce such powerful singing or so close to a violinist playing a one-instrument symphony that you come to truly admire the intricacies that go into playing the song. Despite the prestige associated with the music that the students are playing, this competition is a great opportunity to enjoy – and maybe come to understand – the epicness that classical music has to offer.
For winning the competition, Dove will be performing a piece of her choice at this year’s Honors Convocation, a right reserved for her alone. The music department will be holding the Class of 1969 Competition again next year for another batch of artists to show that Muhlenberg’s got talent.