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Arts and Entertainment

Students perform original work in Opus I

By Taylor Coe ’13

April 11, 2013

In the busy Hamilton schedule, it can be hard enough to make art—much less find a locale to enjoy it. Dan Knishkowy ’13 and Anna Paikert ’13 took a stab at remedying the absence of such a space last Sunday night, providing student musicians and writers with an informal outlet for their original work. For a little over an hour and a quarter, eight students—each alternating between reading creative work and playing music, four writers and four musicians—took to the microphone in front of an audience several dozen strong.

“I just felt like there’s not really an outlet on campus for people on campus who write their own things,” said Knishkowy. “I think people who are creating things are only being heard by other people who are creating things. There’s no way to get it out to the campus and we just wanted to create a space for that.”

The lack of a space for creative expression on campus is partly explained by the absence of Open Mic this semester, whose current organizer is abroad. But this event, in the way that it mixed both formal and informal elements, also stands apart from Open Mic. The most obvious difference was the curating role taken on by Knishkowy and Paikert. Unlike Open Mic, there was no opportunity to sign up beforehand and just take the stage; the bill for the night was predetermined.

“We decided on people we know who are also serious about music and writing,” said Paikert, asked how the pair went about selecting their artists that night. “We based it off of people who we thought would want to participate and who would appreciate listening to other people.”

The selection process—however informal it may have been—went a long way, making what might have felt like a shambolic several-hours-long marathon in an open mic format into a relatively concise and breezy performance.

Everyone kept it short and sweet. Paikert read an abbreviated version of her story “Calling Old Friends,” a tale of two friends growing apart, one maturing faster than the other. Marty Cain ’13 read two poems, including the riotously funny but somehow sad, including “Upon Bombing a Standardized Test in Syracuse, New York,” which, among other gems, asked the question: “What’s sexier than stress compounded?” William Newman ’14 read a selection from an unfinished story, “Apologies for Sex, Etc.: Several Unrelated Events,” which gleefully bounds from one darkly humorous moment to the next. Nate Lanman ’15 led off the night with two poems, one of them that made a reference to a guitar too fantastically vulgar to be printed here.

As for the musical half of the evening, Nate Livingston ’14 gave an impassioned performance of two of his songs, adding some grit to the vocals at the end of his first song, which floated over a chugging acoustic rhythm. Emma Wilkinson ’16 played two tunes, including her lovely, lilting song “I Want To Fall in Love with You.” Knishkowy ended out the evening with four songs, closing his short set with an insistent, powerful tune that exactly captured the atmosphere of the event: polished, appealing and in perfect time.

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