The School of Music’s Most Reliable Audience Member – The Knight News

todayDecember 5, 2023 3

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Recognized by his iconic psychedelic ponytail and quirky dance moves, Joe “The Dancer” Ferrante is a cornerstone of the community at the Aaron Copland School of Music (ACSM) at Queens College. Whenever music students frequent a performance on campus, their eyes scour the seats to see if Ferrante is in attendance. Victoria Bartunek, an undergraduate saxophone performance major, says, “It’s honestly really comforting always having Joe in the audience. Even if you think a performance you’re in may not have a large audience, you can always count on Joe to be there supporting you.”

Ferrante, 74, is a New York City native, having been born in Manhattan in 1949, and moved to Flushing in 1958 where he’s resided ever since. He’s a Queens College alumnus, having taken classes interspersedly between 1967 and 1973, with an interruption from 1969 to 1971 on account of being drafted into the Vietnam War.

Ferrante considers himself to be “very lucky” as he got a job in Congressionals as a fact finder. “I found out what actually happened out there, and once in a while we’d be able to help someone,” he said.

Before he actually got drafted that September, he knew that the entire summer of 1969 was ahead of him. And thus, Ferrante “partied all weekend” at what some may consider to be the most influential music festival of all time, Woodstock 1969.

It’s evident that Ferrante has always had an adoration for live concerts and events, and he surely carries that fondness with him now in his day-to-day life. He began to seek out these live events following his retirement in 2003, reveling in how many free events there are in Manhattan, Queens, and Nassau alone.

He exclaimed, “Why would people pay to go to anything when there’s so many free things to do in New York?!” — a sentiment that we rarely ever hear today. He’s attended a whopping 325 events this year alone, as he averages one or more per day.

Joe’s fascination with music is truly a marvel, as he describes it as his “first love.” He said, “After every show it’s like a high. I think — ‘It doesn’t get better than this’, but then I tell myself ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet.’”

Ferrante began frequenting the performances at ACSM in 2018, disclosing that while classical music wasn’t his immediate go-to, he’s learned so much about opera and instrumental compositions by solely sitting in the audience and listening.

“I’ve learned to like all types of music. And the students, they’re all just so good. I always say there’s only two types of music — good and better,” he said. Ferrante is famous amongst the student body for bopping around in his seat and really embodying the music he’s listening to.

“He’s so unapologetically himself, dancing in the audience. It always makes me smile to see him truly enjoying the music we perform,” Bartunek said. The students at ACSM surely feel Ferrante’s support from the audience, as you can see them waving to and chatting with him following any performance.

Ferrante lives a simple life now, one filled with gratitude and optimism. “I don’t have a cellphone, I don’t have a computer, I don’t have a credit card, I don’t have a car, and I am happy,” he said.

His desire to live life in the present moment, and to do so in such an authentic and unregretful manner, is nothing short of inspirational. His message to the students on campus is one of a heartwarming sentiment. He says, “When I look around here, I see young people who are full of hope for the future. You don’t see that much with people from my generation. You guys keep me feeling young.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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