Wander through the highly populated Parrish Parlors midday on a Monday and you will find yourself an inadvertent audience member to a Lunch Hour Concert. The newest Concert Series at Swarthmore differs drastically from most other musical events that are usually held in Lang Concert Hall or other designated performance venues. Since its creation, the Series has served a variety of purposes and communities on campus. First, the concerts increase visibility for the Music Program and encourage many students who might not have otherwise attended a formal music event to stop and listen. In this way, the Series also serves the greater Swarthmore community of students, faculty, and staff, creating a more casual and accessible space to experience and appreciate music. Because the performances are short and on a drop-by basis, more people can attend.
Most importantly, the Series allows student musicians and performers more opportunities to play in front of an audience. Says Desta Pulley, organizer of the Lunch Hour Concert Series, “Usually, students are performing with ensembles or as part of a larger concert, but these [Lunch Hour Concerts] are more intimate and focus more attention on the individuals.” The student musicians, representing everything from solo acts to string quartets to acoustic guitar and singer duos, feel the same way. Although the genres of the music performed vary drastically, the performers all appreciate the more intimate, lounge setting provided through the Lunch Hour Concerts. Asher Wolf, member of a student bluegrass duo, describes the virtues of such a performance space. “Parrish is a good venue because it’s small enough to reward detailed listening for acoustic music. And it’s central, so people can wander through by accident.”
Student musicians are not the only ones to perform in the Lunch Hour Concerts, however. Past performances have featured Andrew Hauze, professor of music at Swarthmore, as a solo pianist. This week’s featured group is comprised of three professionals, clarinetist Ken Weiner, pianist Kim Kahng, and cellist Tom Whitman, who serves as chair of the Music and Dance program at Swarthmore. The Lunch Hour Concert Series provides an interesting mix of student musicians who may be performing together for the first time, and professional groups like that of Weiner, Kahng, and Whitman, who have played together for five years. Students and faculty alike are united across years of experience and genres in their mission to reach more people with their music. As Asher Wolf puts it, “The world needs more music in more places at all times.”
Maya Kikuchi ’20