Section: Arts

Kenyon Music Society creates platform for collaboration

Kenyon Music Society creates platform for collaboration

Jane Simonton | A&E Editor

In the vein of international stars Phish and the Grateful Dead, or even the local style of Gambier’s The Handsome Devils, the Kenyon Music Society (KMS) has cropped up as a platform for “jamming.”

Spearheaded by Jason Cerf ’15 — who is also the musical director of the Kokosingers, a Chamber Singer, a member of the Jazz Ensemble, a jazz piano student and a voice student — the group meets every Friday around 4:30 or 4:45 p.m. in Waite Rehearsal Hall for the express purpose of creating a musical community.

“The Kenyon Music Society is a non-exclusive environment [the] purpose [of which] is to facilitate and encourage the collaboration between musicians at Kenyon,” Cerf said.

Cerf’s idea behind creating the group stemmed from a desire to strengthen the ties between existing campus musicians.

“It’s is a unique connection you can have to people when you play music with them. It’s what I’m searching for. I think the culture at Kenyon is there are so many musicians on campus and there a lot of people on campus in bands, but the culture seems to not be very unified, so this is an attempt at some sort of organization,” Cerf said. “There are a lot of people at Kenyon who like music. So if you need someone who plays the violin, you can get someone who plays the violin for whatever you need.”

Cerf also emphasized that in addition to playing music communally, KMS is interested in recording music for campus groups that are interested, with plans to colloborate.

For Javier Leung ’15, the group’s relaxed nature fills a campus void.

“I see KMS as an open platform for music expression,” Leung said in an email. “There are a lot of awesome bands, ensembles and a cappella groups on campus, and I guess KMS is a space for people who are either not involved in these groups or would like to jam with musicians outside their groups. … It’s a really non-exclusive space for people to try new styles and meet fellow Kenyon musicians.”

The group’s non exclusivity is important to Leung, because he believes music is a vital tool for bringing people together and that this community would not be possible without a merging of musicians who study different styles.

“To me, music is an impulse to make sounds out of plucking or hitting … things, to imitate melodies and ideas that we hear and to create things that we find beautiful with other people. It’s a kind of childish wonder,” Leung said. “Music can be really meditative when you’re sitting alone at a piano for hours, but it also brings people together. There are some really amazing people at Kenyon who I would not have met if not for music.”

Cerf agreed that music serves an incredibly important role in both bringing people together and developing his own appreciation of the art.

“I see music as bonding people together, and that’s the role it has on campus. And in my personal life, it’s similar. I look for, I guess, there’s two things I like about music. One is the actual sound of music, and the other is the experience of music. The sound is objectively beautiful … and the experience of music, which is the organization of it, the creation of it, the interaction between musicians in the creation of music. The communication without words in music with other people is personally what I enjoy,” Cerf said.

In addition to having opened doors for Leung into Kenyon subcultures he might not have known existed, music — and KMS in particular — has the opportunity to provide this for other people.

“I am optimistic about KMS and I think it could become something great for the Kenyon community. There are a lot of great musicians at Kenyon who people don’t know about, or who don’t get the chance to develop their talents because they are too self-conscious or intimidated to play with other people,” Leung said.

“I think KMS will provide a platform for any musician, not just in jazz, to experiment, make friends and have fun,” Cerf said.

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