Benefit concert for Marjory Stoneman Douglas scholarship
Friday, April 20, 8 p.m.

Leshowitz Recital Hall
John J. Cali School of Music
Montclair State University
1 Normal Ave.

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The week after the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Lambda Mu chapter of Phi Mu Alpha, a music fraternity at Montclair State University, had a business meeting.

They decided to make their spring recital a concert to honor the 17 people slain.

One of the goals of the national male fraternity, is “to be of service to others through music,” said Jason Puskar, a junior and music education major,

The 11 members of their organization aren’t much older than the Stoneman Douglas High School students hurt or killed in the shooting.

“These kids were so close to having the same opportunity we did. And now they can’t,” said Puskar.

Something had to be done to honor their memory, he said.

Puskar, the fraternity education officer and song leader, suggested the idea of holding a benefit concert to raise scholarship money for a Douglas student.

It had to happen quickly to happen at all, and so they quickly formed a small committee.

“It’s so much bigger than us. It’s so important to be able to make this a good experience for everyone involved,” Puskar said.

Everyone involved is working for free, and hoping to raise money for the scholarship.

The concert will be held on April 20, which is also the anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999. It will include 17 pieces. Seventeen people were murdered in Parkland, Florida.

The pieces on the concert include: Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” performed by Kyle Hayes; “Calling My Children Home,” performed by the Madrigal Singers of Kittatinny Regional High School, conducted by Patrice Kane; “Rachmaninoff Preludes No. 1 and No. 2, Op. 32,” performed by Steven Ryan; “Theme from ‘Schindler’s List’,” by John Williams, performed by Danielle Sinclair; and “Song for Love,” written and performed by Evan Fleming, “in memory of those lives lost at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016.”

The evening will conclude with “American Elegy,” by Phi Mu Alpha national member Frank Tichelli, “in memory of those lives lost at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.”

Phi Mu Alpha
Jason Puskar leads a song. COURTESY JOE SHINNICK

Finding the different performers was all done through word of mouth and directly asking, Puskar said. As of this past Saturday, through donations, the organization have raised about $2,500. The money will be sent to Douglas’ administration to administer, and the total will be announced at the concert.

Joe Shinnick, vice president of Phi Mu Alpha, and also a junior in music education, explained that the officers made a short video about the event a few weeks ago.“The concert is a chance to do something good in the world,” Shinnick said.

Originally, Phi Mu Alpha planned to have a representative from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but the students are back in school and the principal told them that their main goal was to finish the year. So the money will be sent to Florida instead, Shinnick said.

Phi Mu Alpha will also be seen onstage:.

“All the members will be performing two pieces, as well as an ensemble,” Shinnick said.

Because there are education majors in the chapter, and they take methods and materials concerts, the subject of the shooting came up often,

“After the shooting happened, there were so many different times that we were talking about the shooting, but we weren’t actually talking about solutions. We were just talking about all the things that were wrong and all the problems we were having,” Puskar said. “We figured as musicians and artists of the world we have a particular gift, an opportunity and also a responsibility to make this circumstance better.”