The University of Maryland’s School of Music Graduate Fellowship Ensembles hosted a recital to benefit the College Park Community Food Bank in The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Sunday.
In their first joint recital, three graduate ensembles — IGNIS Woodwind Quintet, Terrapin Brass and Thalea String Quartet — performed various styles of music and collected donations to support the food bank.
The recital was free admission, but $15 donations were encouraged.
Nathaniel Wolff, an oboe performance graduate student, explained the decision to not charge attendees was to prevent exclusivity in case people couldn’t afford to give more.
“Musical performances are a great source of community building, and I think we don’t want to leave people out,” Wolff said.
Mark Hill, a professor at this university’s music school, volunteered at the food bank during the COVID-19 pandemic and proposed the idea of the benefit recital to the school’s administration. One of the fellowship ensembles’ main priorities is connecting with the larger community in significant ways, musical arts doctoral student Christopher Whitley said.
As of 2021, 25.2 percent of the population of College Park lived on or below the poverty level.
The College Park Community Food Bank, a fully volunteer-run organization, used to host about 100 families in need once a month, but after the pandemic hit and demand rose, the food bank switched their system to a weekly drive-thru. Every Saturday, the food bank assists more than 300 families, said Lisa Bartusek, the organization’s board vice president and fundraising committee chair.
As funding from the pandemic relief bill dwindles, the food bank is seeking donations to sustain the increased aid it needs to provide.
“This kind of thing is really cool because it not only is a way to raise money but also raises awareness within the community,” Bartusek said about the concert.
Wolff said the pieces the musicians played were “a really wild potpourri of different styles and genres.”
Kelly Summers, an environmental engineering alum of this university, is a regular volunteer at the food bank and decided to attend the concert after hearing about it from the food bank. She brought along her friend and fellow environmental engineering alum, Heidi Herrera.
“I personally was really involved in music as an undergrad, and I really liked seeing the advanced techniques they were using,” Herrera said.
Whitley, a violinist with the Thalea ensemble, said musicians should think about how they can have a community impact.
“This is a really good sign of what the University of Maryland community and the music school, in particular, can be doing for College Park,” Whitley said.