Phi Mu Alpha Plans a Benefit Concert for School Shooting Survivor

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Published April 11, 2018
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The Montclarion
Members of Phi Mu Alpha rehearse a song for their upcoming concert. Sam Carliner | The Montclarion

Phi Mu Alpha, a music-oriented fraternity with a chapter at Montclair State University, is planning what they expect to be their biggest event in years: a concert to honor the victims and survivors of the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

On April 20 at 8 p.m., the Leshowitz Recital Hall in John J. Cali School of Music will be the scene of an ensemble of musical performances as a response to the now infamous shooting.

The idea came from junior music education major and Phi Mu Alpha member Jason Puskar.

“Good people lost their lives and good people are the ones that have to live with the repercussions and consequences of that,” Puskar said. “Artists of the world have a responsibility, with their ability, to make the world better when things like this happen.”

Confirmed acts scheduled for the concert include a violin solo, a marimba solo and various instrumental and vocal performances from members of Phi Mu Alpha as well as other Montclair State musicians. Despite the many different types of performers, members of Phi Mu Alpha say all the acts will follow a theme of memorializing the lives lost at Stoneman Douglas.

The vice president of Phi Mu Alpha’s executive board, Joseph Shinnick, was heavily involved in organizing the concert. Shinnick said he is excited to see all the performances come together.

“This whole night is going to be very special,” Shinnick said. “It’s hard to say, ‘Here’s the one thing I’m excited to see,’ because it’s the whole effect afterwards, knowing that we made such a big difference and that such a positive thing can happen after such a horrible event.”

Shinnick is most looking forward to the positive difference they are making.

This is an especially big event for Montclair State’s Phi Mu Alpha chapter, but they are no strangers to community support. The organization also visits nursing homes to sing for senior citizens, hosts open mic nights on campus and have performed the national anthem for Relay for Life the past two years.

Phi Mu Alpha member, Michael Prachthauser, plays the piano at the fraternity’s rehearsal for their upcoming concert.
Sam Carliner | The Montclarion

Martha Wachulec, a junior studying music education, spoke positively about Phi Mu Alpha’s presence on campus.

“Because I’m [vice] president of NAfME [The National Association for Music Education] at school, I have lots of opportunities to work with the guys at the fraternity,” Wachulec said. “They really are driven in what they do and have a lot of good values that they share in their events and at their meetings and just by meeting the guys you can tell that they have a good message in what they stand for.”

Along with the performances, the fraternity will be taking cash donations at the concert to give to a survivor of the shooting to use for college. Puskar has made contact with the principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, however, the school has yet to select a student to receive the donations.

Puskar emphasized that while Phi Mu Alpha intends to raise money, the main focus of the concert will be to honor the community of Stoneman Douglas High School and to bring people together through music.

“Money is never something that can bring lives back,” Puskar said. “But it’s just something for them to see that even though we’re really far away, that we still get impacted by this, too.”

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