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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Pursuing musical dreams

Jared Filer ’20 plays his electric guitar with his band. PHOTO COURTESY OF JARED FILER ’20

Two students reflect on their musical journeys

Twice a semester, the department of music, theatre and film hosts a Music @ 11 event showcasing students studying music at St. Joe’s.

Elizabeth Morgan, Ph.D., associate professor of music, theatre and film, said that the event gives students an opportunity to perform outside of the classroom.

“The idea of Music @ 11 was something that the chair of our department, Dr. Sorkin, and I came up with as a way that our students could perform in something of a low-key setting, but not without pressure,” Morgan said.

During the event, music majors and minors perform pieces they have been practicing in their lessons.

The Nov. 29 performance featured seven students from a variety of musical backgrounds: Joseph Trudo ’21 on guitar, Angelique Frazier ’20 on piano, Olivia Centonza ’20 with vocals, Jared Filer ’20 on guitar, Brendan McGill ’21 with vocals, Ryan Moran ’22 on saxophone and Alex Manduca ’22 on piano.

Centonza, a singer from a young age, said she is not exactly sure why she began singing.

“I feel like I just always started singing, growing up with music around me ever since I was a little girl,” Centonza said. “I was always singing in the house. It was like my thing in life.”

She joined her elementary school’s choir when she was young and continued with chorus through middle and high school. In eighth grade, she took up piano after watching her choir instructor play everything from classical to modern songs.

She currently studies voice and piano as a music major at St. Joe’s, but that was not her original plan when she came to college.

“I feel like it’s always a dream, ‘I want to be a popstar,’” Centonza said. “Everyone always tells you that’s not realistic and you have to have a plan B.”

Centonza said her plan B was to major in actuarial science. That plan lasted around two months into her freshman year.

“I was kind of just sick of it,” Centonza said. “I was like, ‘You know what, I don’t want to do this. It doesn’t make me happy.’”

She had taken some music classes that semester to work towards a minor, so changing to a music major was not a hard decision.

After a conversation with her advisor in the department of music, theatre and film, Centonza said she not only figured out what major would be best for her, but also what her career path should be.

“I always wanted to help little kids, but I also loved music,” Centonza said. “I didn’t want to teach, so I didn’t know how to combine those two together. Then when I talked to my advisor here, she was like, ‘there are so many different jobs you can do with music,’ and she brought up music therapy.”

Centonza said that music therapy is the perfect way to combine her love for music and desire to help children.

In addition to her music studies, Centonza is a member of Hawkapella, an a cappella group at St. Joe’s. She is a member of the sorority Phi Sigma Sigma, where she is a member of the chapter’s choir.

Olivia Centonza ’20 (second from right) performs with Hawkapella. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20 /THE HAWK

“Music is always involved in everything I do,” Centonza said.

In addition to her studies and extracurricular activities, Centonza works on personal music endeavors.

“I also record at home and still have that popstar dream in the back,” Centonza said. “But I’ll always be doing music now with my occupation, so I love that.”

Centonza is not alone in her musical ambition. Music is also a passion for Filer, who has been practicing music in some way for 12 or 13 years.

“My grandma got me a First Act electric guitar in like third grade,” Filer said. “I’m not sure why I kept with it, but I’m glad that I did.”

Like Centonza, Filer also had a dream to make it big in the music industry, inspired by the rock and metal music he listened to as a child.

“I think it was really initially the persona of a rockstar,” Filer said. “I was really enamored with that.”

At some point, Filer said he moved on from those genres and began taking lessons in classical music.

He said his first music instructor made a significant impact on him, as the instructor was able to make learning fun.

“Instruction in music is a great catalyst for someone wanting to learn,” Filer said.

From that instructor, Filer learned how to play the electric guitar, bass, saxophone and cello. In addition, he later taught himself how to play the piano.

When Filer came to college, there was no question about whether he would continue to practice music.

“I was encouraged by anyone I knew to continue my music career,” Filer said.

However, Filer said there has been some difficulty in balancing music and school work.

“I do have to make a lot of time for my musical things,” Filer said. “I was double majoring in biology and music for the time being for the past two years. I just felt the workload was a little too much with all that I’m doing.”

Filer is a member of the Big Band Jazz Ensemble and the pit orchestra for the SJU Theatre Company performances.

He also has a band, Brick Nova, with some friends from high school and does some work booking house shows for other bands.

He is now considering becoming a music major with a minor in biology.

“[Music] is something at the current time, I get more out of in my life,” Filer said. “I think it is something that I’m more passionate about. I would just like to do anything with it if I could possibly.”

Filer said he is now interested in pursuing a career in either professional performance or music education.

“I always wanted to be a rockstar, I guess,” Filer said. “A rockstar or a scientist. I think at this point in my life I’m like, ‘Okay maybe I’m leaning a little more towards a rockstar.’”

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