A free concert will show off Penn State Worthington Scranton’s growing music program and its wide range of musical styles this weekend.
Worthington Scranton Chorale, the Roc[k]tet show choir and Campus Jazz Band all will perform in the college’s annual spring concert Saturday, April 21, at 4 p.m. at the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton.
Sharon Ann Toman, director of music and assistant teaching professor in music, began holding the spring concerts a few years after she joined the staff in 2000. The groups performed on campus on many years, but as the years went on, the groups grew and so did the audiences for the shows. The campus auditorium can accommodate 200 people, and after the concert reached capacity two years ago, Toman knew they needed a new venue. They shifted to the Theater at North in 2017 and packed that, too, she said.
Toman has watched the groups grow since she arrived, with the chorus up to 40 members from just a dozen back then. The band, too, started small but has grown to about 20 to 25 members, she added. Some faculty and staff also sing in the chorus and play in band, which Toman called “nice because then faculty and students and staff can interact.”
“All of them have a love for music,” Toman said of her students. “They like to sing; they like to play. … I always say we work hard but we also laugh hard.
“The rehearsals are interesting. They’re light-hearted, and the students have a good time, and I think that’s important. And above everything else, while they’re having a good time, they’re learning.”
In Saturday’s four-part concert, audiences will hear the eight-member mixed show choir perform “How Far I’ll Go” from the Disney cartoon “Moana,” “Stand by Me” and “Forget You.” The chorale, a mixed chorus of about 40 voices, will perform a traditional spiritual, “Peace Like a River”; “Candle on the Water,” from “Pete’s Dragon”; Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”
“We do fun stuff. … And of course we always sing the Penn State alma mater,” Toman said.
The 25-piece campus jazz band, meanwhile, will play “everything and anything” from “Smoke on the Water” to the Blues Brothers, Toman said.
“They play about seven songs, which is enough to show off their talents,” she added.
Under the direction of Deano Noto, Abington Heights Middle School’s eighth-grade chorus also will perform at the concert, continuing a tradition Worthington Scranton began three years ago when it invited a local school group to perform, too. The choir will perform two songs on its own and then join the college performers for a patriotic song.
People sometimes are surprised to hear Worthington Scranton has such a thriving music program, Toman said, “because when you think of music in higher-education places, you really think of Marywood (University) as well as the University of Scranton.” But her students can stand on level with those music students, she insisted.
“The unique spin on this is the fact that none of these students are music majors,” Toman said. “They could be science, they could be English, they could be business. They’re all from different majors. I don’t have music majors on campus. I’m a graduate (of) Marywood, (and my students) can keep up with the people from Marywood and the University of Scranton. I’m very blessed with a lot of talent here on campus.”