On my very first night at Conn I found myself in The Barn, a student-run practice and performance space for musicians on campus. I’m no music major, nor do I sing well or play an instrument with any measure of talent. But one thing that I am is musically aware. That first night in The Barn initiated me to Conn’s robust music scene, which blossomed throughout my four years here. I spoke with Matt Allen ‘20, who has made a large impact in all things music, about how the music scene has changed at Conn. The following is our interview:
AL: What is your musical involvement on campus and how much time, per week, do you think you spend playing and making music?
MA: Music at Connecticut College has defined my college experience. Most of my time on campus is dedicated to music: playing, producing, listening. I am a music and technology major, a member of the all-male a cappella group CoCoBeaux and the keyboard player for the on-campus band The Wingmen. I work as the audio engineer in the Elizabeth Gilbert Fortune Recording Studio on campus and have been a cellist in the Connecticut College Chamber Orchestra. I score music for many films on campus and am half of the electronic music production duo Saen.
Last spring semester, I came to the realization that I was already treating music as a job. I was spending 40+ hours a week working on music. College is an amazing opportunity to make your work a passion, following the common adage if you love your work, you’ll never work a day in your life.
AL: How has the student music scene changed, or shapeshifted, since your first year?
MA: The live music scene has been growing. The places students congregate are changing and becoming more about music and performance. Music is not just a hobby for a select group, but a social event for a large demographic. The scene has expanded beyond The Barn, the epicenter of MOBROC, as bands have played shows for the Student Government Association (SGA), local restaurants in New London, as well as student social-host events.
AL: What do you think is the most successful aspect or part of the student music life at Conn? In other words, how do student musicians here succeed in keeping the scene alive?
MA: Entrepreneurial ventures, such as making new bands, creating new events, and playing at as many events as possible, keep the music scene thriving. From Barnaroo and Floralia, two of MOBROC’s annual performances, to your weekend Winch (short for Winchester Road Apartments) get together, live music can be found throughout the many corners of campus. It is the overall drive from the whole community to make Conn a music destination that ultimately pushes the success of student music at Conn. The community of performers and fans continue to make Conn’s music lively, fun and active.
AL: Lastly, what do you like most about being a part of the music making world here at Conn?
MA: The musicians of Conn come from different backgrounds and different friend groups with different interests in musical genres. Yet one of the most rewarding parts of my experience here is participating in what is ultimately a collaborative and tightly knit community. There are always new opportunities for musical expression. Whether it’s playing “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire with the Berg (President Bergeron) or groovin’ to the the Nintendo Wii “Mii Channel Theme” song or headbanging to “Bulls on Parade,” Conn’s music scene always delivers new and exciting experiences that never fail to make my night.
Because of Matt’s contributions and passion for music, he and so many others have emboldened the music scene amongst students. What I’ve learned is that music everywhere, and specifically here, helps to establish congregating points among people. Without the excited student bands, a cappella groups, MOBROC and so much more our school would look a whole lot different.