Music students pay tribute to the ’80s at concerts | Applause

todayNovember 10, 2023

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WILLIAMSPORT — Audiences can expect a “top-tier, professional-grade concert with a great mix of pop and new wave songs from the ’80s” at the The Uptown Music Collective’s first show of the 2023-2024 performance season, said Jared Mondell, assistant executive director and marketing director.

“Five minutes in, I guarantee you will forget that these are high school students, all of whom were not even born when this music was released,” he said.

The Uptown Music Collective (UMC) is bringing the music of the 1980s back at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday at the Community Arts Center (CAC) with “It Came From the ’80s: New Wave to Pop Rock.”

Mondell explained that the show is focused on 1980s new wave and pop rock, “two genres of that decade we have not predominantly featured in past performances.”

Using those two genres as guideposts, Mondell said the students developed a powerful set list featuring artists like Talking Heads, The Cure, Dire Straits, Huey Lewis & The News, R.E.M., and more.

The students began rehearsals in the beginning of September. That’s when they began developing the overall theme, picking the set list and assigning parts; rehearsals began after that. The students come up with and develop the themes for the performance season. From there, Mondell explained, they present their “pitch” to their peers, and then potential themes are voted on with input from the executive staff.

“We also reach out to the community for ideas,” he said. “Every summer we hold voting online for our ‘People’s Choice’ show which happens in January at the CAC. The answers from this voting process help give the students insight as to what fans and supporters want to see from them in the coming season.”

There are 28 students performing this weekend, with each performer having a primary instrument and approximately half of them being multi-instrumentalists, Mondell said.

There are an additional 10 students on the tech crew for this weekend’s performances.

Along with the music, there will be a professional-grade light and sound show, organized by the students working alongside the professionals at the Community Arts Center. As with all Uptown Music Collective performances, the students are not only the performers but also the directors of the show. A group of younger students, or “Tech Monkeys,” will serve as stage technicians and spotlight operators. The cast for the show is drawn from the Uptown Music Collective’s much-heralded “Special Performance Group 1.”

Mondell said anyone who’s been to a UMC show can tell you audiences can expect a fantastic evening of entertainment.

“If you have been to a UMC show before, you know it’s worth it,” he said. “Beyond the level of entertainment you are getting, you are also supporting our non-profit school of music. If you haven’t been to a Collective show yet, don’t you think you should come and see what the buzz is all about?”

Izzy Butters, 16, of Williamsport, got involved with the UMC through her older sister. She both sings and plays the guitar. A student at Loyalsock, she has been a part of the UMC for seven years.

Butters said anyone who turns out for the show is in for a good time.

“They can expect a lot of high energy familiar songs from a high-energy group of kids who are really excited to do this,” said Butters. “Come out and sing and dance.”

Even though she’s been at it awhile, Butters said it’s always exciting being on stage.

“It’s really exhilarating being out there and having people who want to see you perform,” she said. “Everyone wants to see you do your best.”

Though she doesn’t plan on making music her career, Butters said she imagines it will always be a part of her life thanks to the UMC.

“I definitely want to continue playing gigs and maybe be in a band in the future, to continue to perform,” she said.

The show is directed by UMC senior Jossian Lilley (Loyalsock Township High School) and Duncan Larson (Gap Year). The show’s leadership committee consists of UMC students Matthew Bellino (Danville Area High School); Izzy Butters, Chase Cowden and Scarlet O’Brien (Loyalsock Township High School); Connor Evans and Stephanie Nappi (Gap Year); Tixo Bower, Gabreon Godin, Grace Godin, Abby Jamison and Owen Miller (Williamsport Area High School); Brendan Kuriga (South Williamsport Area High School); Calistra Mahoney (Pennsylvania College of Technology); Carter Rodgers (Muncy Junior-Senior High School); and Gianna Waldman (Montoursville Area High School).

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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