On Friday, Jan. 18, Live @ Murray Music Festival will be hosted in the Lighten Theater at Pauli Murray College from 8 p.m. to midnight. Live @ Murray is the first-ever music festival to take place at the residential college and will feature 16 different student acts that will span multiple genres and traditions.
The festival’s organizer, Michael Gancz ’21, was partially inspired to initiate the festival due to the relative geographic isolation of the new colleges from many on-campus music events.
“I believe it’s important to actively promote Murray and Franklin as centers of musical expression and performance at Yale,” Gancz said. “We’ve already seen a number of successful drama productions in the Lighten; it only makes sense that we extend that artistic expansion to music as well. There’s a lot of amazing talent here that may be discouraged by inconvenience. I hope this festival is a step towards bringing out that latent musicianship.”
Live @ Murray is not the first Murray-centric music project Gancz has worked on during his time at Yale. Earlier this year, he started the Murray Experimental Orchestra, MYEO, in order to provide a low-stress alternative to other orchestras on campus and engage with Yale’s experimental and avant-garde music scenes. The orchestra prioritized openness to all members of the student body, regardless of students’ levels of formal music training.
Early on, MYEO encountered scheduling difficulties, but Gancz persevered in his aim to promote alternative music spaces in his residential college.
“I realized that, even if I don’t have the time every week to manage an ensemble, I still want to promote the weirder and lesser-known musical scenes at Yale,” Gancz said. “I also came to realize that a one-time extravaganza is likely to attract a much bigger crowd than a weekly commitment. From there, the idea developed to make it into a pan-genre festival, giving a spotlight to anyone who wanted to share their musical talent.”
The festival’s inclusion of many genres is an essential part of its vision. Gancz is passionate about bridging genre divides and emphasizing musical accessibility. As a result, the festival will feature a range of performers, from a capella groups like the Yale Alley Cats, to folk group Pitnacree, to the Yale Band Saxophone Quartet. Gancz solicited performers through Facebook posts promoting the event.
Chaz Okada ’21, a performer at the festival, is a self-taught guitar player who plans to start a club on campus dedicated to taiko — a form of ensemble drumming originating in Japan. Okada met Gancz through MYEO and was inspired to respond to Gancz’s call for performers because he felt it was a “good effort to expand the music scene at Yale.”
“I was happy to see that Michael was putting on a show because I believe that Yale could use a boost in its music scene,” Okada said. “There are a lot of formal performances, but there’s not much support for all of the talented musicians who don’t play in established groups and just want to have fun in a relaxed environment.”
Kincaid MacDonald ’22 will take a different musical approach. He will perform a piano concerto composed by classical period Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. MacDonald described the concerto as “music that is centuries old, which speaks a very different musical dialect than its neighboring rock and jazz numbers.” Still, MacDonald believes that the concerto imparts a lighthearted joy that all listeners can appreciate, regardless of their level of classical training.
MacDonald added that the Murray music festival will be a “celebration of the musical language we varied artists share,” and an “occasion to put aside our differences in style and slang.”
“An environment like this, in which acts from vastly different musical traditions share the same space and environment, can help bridge the divide between familiar and unfamiliar music, bringing our musical culture that much further into the modern age,” Gancz said. “Theoretically. It’s all a long-winded way of saying that I’m putting all of Yale on shuffle and crossing my fingers — and we’ll see how it goes.”
Rianna Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org