As the Class of 2019 prepares to venture off into the real world, many graduating students have vowed not to abandon the Vassar community, but to give back to it through projects, showcases and art installations. On Tuesday, May 7, the graduating members of the Student Musician’s Union (StuMu) did just that, performing at the Mug for the final time.
The StuMu Senior Showcase was an all-star event comprised of veterans from the Vassar music scene and encompassing a range of music styles, including hard rock, country and hip-hop. The lineup included current StuMu co-heads Vanessa Achoy ‘19, Kota Lee ‘19 and Nicole Lipman ‘19, singer-songwriter Jacob Barba ‘19 and on-campus bands Bel, Rubies in the Rough and relative newcomers Python.
The Miscellany News was able to reach out to a few of the musicians that played at the Senior Showcase. Performing in showcases since her sophomore year, Isabel Furman ‘19, lead singer of Bel, spoke fondly of her time performing on campus. Reflecting on the Senior Showcase, she stated, “This lineup felt so representative of how we’ve all grown up and found our voices with each other. I’m really grateful to have played with/for them for four years!”
Furman also commented on how her college experience changed her relationship with music: “I was afraid to join and very shy about music before, but once I became friends with [Lipman], she really encouraged me to get involved and play their shows more frequently.”
Likewise reflecting on personal growth as a musician, Lee discussed highlights from their past shows: “I think my favorite memory was the first time Evan [Stark ’19] and I played a Lumber Party show junior year. It was our first time really playing that material we had, and people went wild for some of the songs.” An eclectic performer, Lee has fronted several musical endeavors during their time at Vassar, such as the alt-rock outfit Lumber Party and their current hip-hop project LAV (The Lavender Meltdown).
For her part, Lipman particularly enjoyed the cover shows. “Last year my friends and I performed as the School of Rock and this year I played as David Bowie. Both shows were some of my favorite nights at college.” She also reminisced on StuMu as a whole, commenting, “I’m deeply proud of the work we’ve done to build this org into what it is today, and the Senior Showcase felt like a capstone of that effort and proof that we’ve created something really special on campus.”
Several of the performers praised the general atmosphere and sense of camaraderie that pervades the on-campus music scene. Bryan Ruby ‘19, lead singer of Rubies in the Rough, said, “The band community here is pretty strong; we all know each other and support each other’s ventures, regardless of what genre each band plays.” Lee echoed Ruby’s statements, praising the collaborative nature of the relationships between the bands, and stating, “I’m thankful I was able to help build a community that can come together like this.”
Lipman also spoke about the connection between the bands on campus. “I think the band community at Vassar is growing, slowly. I’m grateful that our community here is supportive and close—we have a StuMu policy that all performers stay for the whole show, and I think it’s really helped to foster community connections between bands across genre and class years.”
While the Senior Showcase might mark some performers’ final show at Vassar, that does not mean they will stop playing or organizing shows. According to Lipman, “I’ve been performing music my whole life, but organizing shows was a new interest I found in college and is something I’m hoping to continue doing in my post-grad life.” Ruby likewise plans to continue pursuing his passion for music. When asked about his reaction to playing the Senior Showcase, Ruby commented, “[The Senior Showcase] was an emotional last show at school but I know there will be many more shows in my future.”
[The quotes in this article are sourced from text-message interviews.]