Student Spotlight – Michael McAndrew ’15
Major/minor: Music Composition
Hometown: Peckville, Pa.
Awards: Received the Leon Prokofy Leonovitch Award for highest progress as a rising sophomore, and the Steven Van Auken Performance Award as a rising junior.
Future Plans: To attend graduate school and earn master’s and doctorate degrees in composition. He aspires to be a full-time composer, while also teaching collegiately.
Michael McAndrew’s curiosity in the SOAR program sparked when he inadvertently eavesdropped on a classmate’s conversation. What he heard was an opportunity he couldn’t let pass.
“To be honest, Mike Wisnosky ’15 was actually interested first, and I overheard him talking about doing SOAR,” Michael recalls. “I told him that I was interested and we talked about projects with Dr. Hilde Binford and Dr. Larry Lipkis, leading to the NEH discussion and eventually this project.”
“This project” involved preparing a performing edition of the opera, La Spartana Generosa, ovvero Archidamia by Johann Adolph Hasse, an immensely popular 18th-century German composer, singer and teacher of music. While initially the project seemed simplistic in thought, preparing a more modern version of an opera, it “quickly evolved into something more special,” McAndrew explains.
“It dawned on us that we were truly reviving an opera that had not been heard in 265 years,” he says.
A member of several music ensembles, as well as the marching band, choir and jazz combos, McAndrew found the subject matter immensely interesting. That was fortunate because the project’s workload quickly ramped up.
Starting with two weeks of transcriptions, Michael helped complete nearly 15 different writings on background information, such as biography and opera details. Then came endless rehearsals to “bring this music to life,” McAndrew says. “The end result really was a lot of work that was done to the best of our abilities.”
The results have been worth the work. The duo has all of the arias and choruses fully notated in finale, as well as other elements, including a recap of Johann Sebastian Bach and Hasse’s relationship.
McAndrew and Wisnosky hope to perform some of the arias in Leipzig, Germany, for the NEH institute. In the meantime, Michael plans to continue work on this topic as an independent study in the spring, creating a piano/vocal score and transcribing all of the recitatives, thus finishing the opera in modern notation.
While SOAR filled much of his summer, Michael took a day off Aug. 1, accompanying Binford, President Bryon Grigsby, piano faculty and several campus members to Jacobs Music Company, the institution’s Steinway agent in Philadelphia, to select new pianos for the College. The trip was the result of a gift from the late Betty Louise Aierstock Moore ’45 that secured the acquisition of an additional 10 Steinway & Sons pianos the College needed to complete its conversion to becoming an “All-Steinway School.” This noteworthy distinction is held by fewer than 150 colleges and universities nationwide.
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