Perform a Rock Concert in the Chapel

Matthew Wagner
For my senior capstone project, I organized and performed a rock concert on January 31 in the chapel with three other students.  I had transitioned to electric guitar only eight months before choosing the project in August, and I worried January 31 might be a tight deadline to learn so much music.  The plan evolved continuously, beginning as a four-song solo concert and becoming a six-song show with 18 parts to practice between four band members.  These included five progressive rock songs I chose and Stairway to Heaven as a recognizable classic rock piece.  My goal was to provide a variety of sounds between the songs, both for the audience and to improve myself as a musician.  I played three of the songs at other events without the full band, getting some exposure to performances and building community interest in the concert.

Progressive rock music is known for its complexity, and I spent hours practicing in the chapel between classes to ensure I was confident in my parts.  These were pieced together from online guitar music with a few of my own changes.  Through the school’s capstone funding, we received pedals, strings, and patch cords for use in the chapel.  During the three weeks between winter break and the concert, we practiced as a band twice during sports and once during study hall each week.  We set up the stage the Monday before the concert and had a rehearsal that Wednesday with an audience of teachers and students who could not be there on Friday.

I was joined by the band, roadies, and other volunteers on concert day to arrange the stage, retrieve a missing pedal, set up a camera to record the show, and make final sound and lighting adjustments.  The concert itself was incredible; the audience was receptive, and the band was into the music.  Afterwards, the band members and roadies cleaned up the chapel and celebrated in Ella Dye.  Our goal was to make the concert an event the community would look forward to, enjoy, and remember, and in that respect I think we succeeded.

      Cordially Invited for putting in a huge amount of time to learn, practice, and perform parts for songs I chose, move equipment, and set up the stage, and for everything else they brought to the band:
      Max Wierenga for taking the underappreciated roles of percussionist and bassist, performing in five of our six songs, performing with me twice before the show, letting us use some of his own equipment, finding the bass drum pedal on concert day, and forever trying to keep us in tempo.
      Robert Stenzel for performing in four songs on three different instruments and vocals, unquestioningly accepting many changes to parts throughout the year, letting us use his guitar stand for the show, and acquiring post-concert root beer floats for the band and roadies.
      Danny Liu for being our lead singer for three songs and quickly adapting his style to rock music, bringing the energy we needed to practices, bringing the stage presence we needed to the concert, encouraging Tyler to promote the show, and buying the band pizza.
      Our roadies for sacrificing study halls and sports practices to prepare for the concert:
      Albert Ho for managing stage transitions between songs.
      Vincent Nguyen for controlling the concert slideshow.
      Eli Pippenger for acting as our photographer and cameraman before and during the concert.
      Ms. Throndsen for so many things, including but not limited to helping me learn my parts, ordering new equipment, working out every other little detail regarding the concert with me, letting us practice in the chapel during and outside of the academic day, forcing the band to go downstairs and calm down before the show, and not kicking us out of the chapel after almost getting hit by a ceiling tile.
      Ms. Bird for keeping me on track throughout the year, helping me with the capstone funding form, and reminding me to document my progress.
      Mr. McDonnell and Ms. Bird for bringing glow sticks to the concert for Stairway to Heaven.
      Ms. Estervig for putting up with our constant practicing and giving us valuable advice after our final rehearsal.
      Mr. Behm for loaning me his looping pedal for an (unexpectedly) long period of time and offering to arrange a night in the Union for the girls basketball team to watch the concert.
      Mr. Cleary and the other winter sports coaches who let band members, roadies, and other volunteers prepare for the concert during practices.
      Tyler Hampton for promoting the show.
      Everyone who came to our Wednesday rehearsal the week of the concert and offered advice to help the real event go better.
      All the supervisors who gave us chapel per during study hall and the library supervisors who fought through the cold to open the chapel for practice.
      The girls basketball team for being only mildly upset about having to miss the show.
      And of course… everyone who came to see us perform!  The audience is what makes or breaks a show like this, and everyone there—students, faculty, family, and friends—made it an unforgettable experience for us.
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