Last updateWed, 18 Nov 2020 1pm


Alumni Perform at the Center for the Arts’ Virtual Concert Series

AlumuniMonmouth University’s Center for the Arts premiered a special alumni edition of the Virtual Living Room Concert Series on YouTube on Friday, Oct. 23, as a part of Homecoming weekend.

In conjunction with the University’s Office of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving, the concert included pre-recorded performances by Taylor Hope ‘16, Carlos Morales ‘10, Gianna Cusanelli ‘17, Zach Gindi ‘19, Sharon Laster ‘81, Kellie Shane ‘09, Zack Sandler ‘20, and Natalie Imani ‘04.

“As soon as we knew we weren’t going to be able to host a traditional in-person Homecoming event, the staff on the Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving team put our heads together to brainstorm ways to engage our alumni and friends from the comfort of their homes,” said Laura MacDonald, Director Of Alumni Engagement. “We put a call out to alumni via social media and email and collected submissions.”

“We were thrilled to partner with eight talented alumni artists to put on this virtual showcase,” added Kristin Waring, Assistant Director of Recent Alumni and Student Programs.

Each of the artists performed either covers of hit songs or original music. Natalie Imani, the headliner artist, has performed with Grammy award-winning artists such as John Legend and Cardi B, Waring said.

Taylor Hope ’16 kicked off the concert with a violin rendition of “Home” by Phillip Phillips. Regarding virtual performances, she said, “It is different when not performing to an audience, but you always have them in mind. I try to select songs that will resonate with most people. I do love and miss performing in person and feeding off the energy of the crowd.”

As a Monmouth student, Hope double majored in math and music performance, served as Concertmaster of the Music and Theatre Department’s Chamber Orchestra, and had solo performances on campus.

She said, “Since graduating, I have been an actively involved alum. I’ve attended different events, have spoken on various panels, and last summer I performed at the Alumni Rooftop Event. I was asked to be a part of the virtual concert series and I immediately said yes.”

Alumni 2

“So many of our alumni are doing amazing things, not just in the arts, but in every industry,” said MacDonald. “This was a way to showcase the talented musicians in our alumni family, as well as shine a spotlight on the Center for the Arts to our larger alumni community, since they do such fantastic programming throughout the year.”

Vaune Peck, Director of the Center for the Arts, added, “It made perfect sense to feature alumni artists for homecoming this year, since that’s what it’s all about.” Peck said that she hopes to spearhead a live version of the concert series alumni edition once public performances can resume.

She also mentioned that both virtual and in-person concerts come with their own challenges. Regarding virtual performances, she said, “Some artists have to learn how to capture themselves performing according to our video requirements, be cognizant of their backgrounds and sound, and adhere to rules in the artist agreement that address the avoidance of promoting drug and alcohol use, racism, sexism and other unwanted subject matter in their lyrics. So, artists have to be very thoughtful about the material they choose.”

Peck also said that online concerts have to be video and sound mastered by technicians before the finished product is prepped and ready to air on YouTube. “There are a lot of steps involved in the finishing process,” she said.

The Center for the Arts also hosts Tuesday Night Record Club, Tuesday Night Book Club, and Nightly Met Opera Streams, all conducted virtually this semester. Peck said that she hopes to continue including alumni in future installments.

The full concert is available to watch on their YouTube channel (MUCenterfortheArts).

IMAGES TAKEN from MU Center for the Arts Youtube


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