St. Dominic Ensemble is by Students, for Students
by Patrick Lovett ’17
Crowds applaud for a variety of reasons: to commend a performance, show agreement, give thanks—after the 10:30 p.m. mass at St. Dominic Chapel, the congregation applauded for all of the above. The clapping is directed towards the St. Dominic Ensemble, Providence College’s own praise and worship band, which uses a soulful and contemporary style to bring students in and keep them coming.
Ever since its founding over a decade ago, the St. Dominic Ensemble has offered a more modern music selection for mass goers. Comprised of numerous vocalists, guitarists, a pianist, and percussionist, the band is able to play both old hymns and new songs alike, with a captivating tune and an upbeat tempo.
Calling it a “contemporary worship band” with a “earthy, folksy vibe,” the group’s current leader, Andrew Goyer ’18, believes the Ensemble serves to appeal to its audience. “Students are drawn to this type of music,” says Goyer, “…our purpose is to create an environment for them to worship in, plain and simple.”
In light of these aims, it is simple to measure the band’s success by looking at the size and support of its audience. According to Fr. Dominic Verner, O.P., the band succeeds in both metrics. “The popularity of the 10:30 p.m. mass speaks for itself,” he says, “…it is the most popular mass every Sunday.”
In reference to the Ensemble’s spiritual value, Verner says the band’s style is conducive to prayer. Expanding on that point, he says, “the Ensemble has the down to earth nature of folk, with some powerful lyrics that speak to the more transcendent desire of the heart.”
Matthew Sanborn ’17, a member of the intended audience, finds the band’s style refreshing. In contrast to the more traditional hymns one would commonly find at a mass, Sanborn calls the Ensemble’s music “up-to-date and upbeat,” which he believes “keeps the congregation focused and excited to be in the chapel.”
Furthermore, Sanborn says that the
band is able to affect the quality and ambience of the ceremony. “The band helps the verticality of mass,” he says, “Its one thing to sit through mass, and it is another to actually experience mass. “
The Ensemble does not limit itself to only playing masses, however. The group has already opened for the local Providence worship band, Revive, twice this year. Looking forward, The Ensemble is preparing for another performance, during Campus Ministry’s “Encounter with Christ” retreat from March 31 to April 2.
However, for the many, the Ensemble can be found playing in St. Dominic any given Sunday night. Those looking to listen to the band for the first time need only follow the music and applause.
Always Welcome to Sing
By Patrick Lovett
As a chorus of voices that are singular yet in harmony, unique and still complimentary, A cappella at Providence College almost epitomizes the Friar Family—that bond encompassing the campus and the alumni beyond it.
This past Saturday, PC’s A cappella Club celebrated its 20th anniversary during Alumni & Family Weekend. All three of the College’s A cappella groups—Special Guest, Anaclastic, and Strictly Speaking—performed at the Rhode Island Convention Center to celebrate the occasion, joined by alumni that were enthusiastic to both watch and participate.
Numerous alumni, across a broad range of graduation years, were welcomed to perform with their former groups. With just a few hours of practice that morning, they not only learned several songs, but some also took solos. The groups performed both classic and modern hits, such as “Stand by Me” and “Uptown Funk,” and through them connected an entire venue of Friars past and present.
Ralph Tavares ’01, the current assistant dean of undergraduate studies and a former member of Special Guest, worked on inviting former A cappella members. When asked if many alumni were interested in coming back, Tavares said, “Everybody was crazy about it.” He said the group chat he created “spiraled out of control” and created “social media frenzy.” Tavares attributes this raving reaction to the strong communal spirit in the A cappella groups.
Since its founding, PC’s A cappella Club has frequently welcomed alumni to perform alongside current members. According to Matthew Maurano ’06, former member of Special Guest, coming back to perform has become a kind of tradition. “Alumni Weekend was always something to look forward to,” said Maurano, “Alumni would always come back and sing…it was always a lot of fun.”
Due to the tradition, members in A cappella groups have had the opportunity to meet and bond with alumni across a range of ages. “[Tavares] didn’t even go here when I did, he graduated before I was a freshman,” said Maurano, “But I still got to meet and know him through A cappella.”
For current Anaclastic member Colleen L’Etoile ’17, meeting former members was a promising glimpse into the future. “To see all these past members come back, people with jobs and families, it was just nice to see they still have that passion for A cappella,” said L’Etoile, “I hope I have that.”
After graduating, there are plenty of reasons to visit PC. Alumni come back for good company, to reminisce on old times, and even to share about their experience beyond campus walls. Members of the A cappella Club come back for all these reasons and more; back at PC, they can share their passion with a number of others, and perhaps pretend they never left.
Friars Take the Stage at KCACTF
By Patrick Lovett `17
Located in the Smith Center for the Arts, on the periphery of campus and the scope of its community, Providence College’s theatre program is working to find center stage.
From Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, six students from PC participated in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Danbury, Connecticut. The festival, more than just a contest in the performing arts, gave the students the opportunity to learn, practice, and compete in their craft. Both PC’s students and the Theatre, Dance, & Film department gained exposure and experience through the event—two necessities for success in the arts.
Along with about 200 others, PC students competed in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, a portion of the festival that offers winners the reward of acting at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Although no students from PC won, all still left Danbury with valued intangibles: practice, knowledge, and confidence moving forward.
The PC students were invited according to the discretion of evaluators who had attended their performances at Angell Blackfriars Theatre. After being chosen to attend the festival, the participants were asked to prepare a monologue and two generically contrasting scenes. They executed these pieces over three rounds, after which the evaluators chose one performer to attend the national competition in D.C.
According to Professor James Calitri, the managing director of PC’s theatre program, just participating in the festival is a sign of development in the college’s theatre program. “Before, the department was so small that it couldn’t function if people were to leave for a week,” said Calitri, “Even in the three years that I’ve been here it’s grown significantly, both in the number of students majoring and in attendance.”
However, the festival’s true value, according to Calitri, is its ability to not only symbolize progress, but promote it as well. “This is not really a competition,” he said, “it’s a chance to perform and grow.” Veronica Murphy ’17, a participant in this year’s festival, reiterated this sentiment. “As a graduating senior, this is the stuff I want to do and it was really good practice. I had the chance to go to a lot of workshops and performances and just see some phenomenal stuff,” she said.
Calitri expects to participate in the festival for years to come and continue “getting PC’s name out there.” As for Murphy and fellow participants, they plan to each personally build on their experience at the festival. “Our talent pool is really big [at PC],” she said, “and although we may be small, we work hard.”
For both Calitri and Murphy, KCACTF is only part of a much greater effort, one to get more people in seats, people on stage, and to make the next show the best one.
The Laramie Project at PC
by Patrick Lovett `17
“…I give you life in the memory of one who no longer lives. May you have a long life and may you thank Matthew every day for it.” These words, given from a mourning father to his son’s killer, represent just one of the powerfully chilling moments from Providence College’s production of The Laramie Project this past weekend.
Based entirely on real events, the play depicts the city of Laramie, Wyoming following the horrific murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. It consists of over 200 seamless interviews, all conducted by members of the Tectonic Theater Project.
Through the interviews, the audience is exposed to a broad and polarizing spectrum of reactions in the Laramie community. The interviews weave together in such a way to make both Laramie and the pain of Shepard’s murder feel familiar.
Throughout the play, the details of the tragedy slowly unravel: Shepard’s homosexuality, the murderers’ discrimination, and the gruesome beating Shepard was subjected to. By the end, the audience is meant to be left astounded, yet invigorated—speechless, but willing to act.
Unique to PC’s production, the Angell Blackfriars Theatre provides a perfectly intimate environment for captivating the audience. In that setting it is easier to appreciate the range and talent of the cast, especially as they use 11 members to fill 80 roles.
In essence, the College’s production of The Laramie Project is both a spectacle and experience. It effectively captivates and involves the audience, so as to make them participants in Shepard’s legacy.
For those who missed this weekend’s shows, there are still more opportunities to see it. The Department of Theatre, Dance, & Film will be performing it again on the weekend of Feb. 10-12.