Sound swelled last Wednesday out of 240 Biddle Hall: the disjointed, cacophonic noise of instruments warming up. The concert band musicians were inside, preparing for practice.
Inside the room, junior Christina Flower held a trumpet in her hands.
Flower has been playing trumpet in the Pitt-Johnstown concert band for three years. She said the band plays mostly marches, but they play a few classical pieces, too.
Flower said she has been playing trumpet for about 13 years.
“I started playing actually in fourth-grade when I saw a demonstration at my school, and I thought it would be cool to be in the band,” Flower said. “My grandfather was also a big inspiration in my starting to play the trumpet because he was a music teacher.”
To maintain her skills, Flower practices once or twice a week for an hour, though she admits it’s challenging to make time around classwork. She also has trouble finding a place to practice.
“If you live on campus, it’s really hard (to practice) because you have to be considerate of those around you,” she said.
Concert band member sophomore Ariel Korlinchak started playing flute in fourth-grade. This is her second year playing in the concert band.
Korlinchak said she began when lessons were offered through her elementary school, inspired by her cousins who also played instruments.
“I thought it was the coolest thing,” she said.
Korlinchak and Flower also sing in the Pitt-Johnstown concert choir. Flower said the choir has performed show songs, spiritual and classical.
Both Flower and Korlinchak said they plan to continue with music once they graduate.
“Music has been such a big part of my life that I absolutely want to continue working,” she said, adding that she plans to sing or play through her church.
Korlinchak said she wants to play in her church on special occasions. She said she doesn’t want to play professionally but wants to keep playing in community groups.
In addition to the concert band and choir, Pitt-Johnstown’s music department also offers a jazz ensemble.
Ensemble member senior Michael Cerveris plays bass along with his friend, senior Tony Raco, who plays drums.
Cerveris said that the ensemble is entertaining since they play a different style of music than what he usually plays.
“It’s a nice breakup of the day,” Cerveris said.
Cerveris plays piano and guitar as well. He is classically trained in piano, which he started playing when he was 5 years old. He started playing guitar around age 15.
Cerveris and Raco are members of The Deep Vees, a band also including senior Randall Penn and Drake Watters, who graduated last semester.
Cerveris said they play mostly original songs from a wide array of genres, including reggae, blues and rock.
Cerveris met the other members of his band through his fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma. He said they began when Penn ran for Mr. UPJ, and they decided to write a song about it. They have been playing ever since.
The Deep Vees often play at the Windber Hotel. They’ve also been trying to play on campus more, according to Cerveris.
Another band on campus is Them Blue Cats. Sophomore Sam Louderback is a vocalist and guitarist in the band.
Louderback began playing guitar in seventh grade. He said his sister gave him a guitar one day.
The band practices Fridays before shows, Louderback said. He practices by himself about an hour daily in his room.
Louderback said he met Them Blue Cats’ bassist, Andrew Dunlevy, at a summer camp when he was young. He met their drummer, Jason Kaczynski, last summer at Speal’s Tavern in New Alexandria.
Louderback said they mostly play covers of blues artists such as The Allman Brothers Band, Walter Trout and Joe Bonamassa.
The band plays at Joey’s The Edge, a bar and restaurant in Export, Westmoreland County.
Back inside Biddle 240, conductor Mike Bodolosky corralled concert band students into their seats and the sounds of individual instruments blended, becoming harmonious as they played an opening chord.