University of Indianapolis alumni returned to Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center as a part of the UIndy’s Homecoming weekend on Saturday, Sept. 28. Each year, UIndy invites alumni to come back to campus and perform.
Assistant Professor of Music Mitzi Westra is the one that coordinates and organizes the recital every year.
According to Westra, the alumni recital has not always been a part of homecoming weekend. The recital happens during homecoming and then sometimes again in February with a different program.
“This is the third year that it has been associated with homecoming,” Westra said. “But it’s been going on for as long as I can remember and I’ve been here for almost 20 years.”
Each year, Westra works with the alumni office to reach out to alumni to play in these recitals, in addition to using Facebook to reach out.
“[The purpose is to] maintain connections with them [alumni],” Westra said. “We don’t want to just shove our people out of the door at graduation and say ‘Goodbye have a nice time and have a good life.'”
Alumni are selected for the program on a first come first serve basis. However, if the program needs more of a variety, a pianist might be invited to play instead of another singer if the program already has enough singers.
Guitarist Joseph Jones, who graduated from UIndy in 2016, was one of many alumni to come back and play in the recital. He performed “Usher Waltz” by Nikita Koshin and “Grand Vals” by Francisco Tarrega.
Since graduating, Jones has been working as a janitor, a guitar instructor, a martial arts instructor and a freelance guitarist. While juggling all of those, he is also a soldier in the Army National Guard and is pursuing a master’s degree in guitar performance.
According to Jones, he is still involved with UIndy and occasionally ends up back at the university.
“It’s really neat [to come back], I only knew a couple people on the program so it’s really cool seeing all the different backgrounds that other graduates have had prior to when I graduated just a few years ago,” Jones said. “Seeing all the diverse talents that people are bringing, it’s really neat.”
Jones said he is still involved with music. Even with a busy schedule, he has known “Grand Vals” for years and thought this would be good practice with “Usher Waltz,” according to Jones.
Jones said that he is looking to perform “Usher Waltz” in an upcoming competition. Westra believes that having the primary alumni recital moved to Homecoming week was beneficial. “It gets more of an audience and more participation from alumni,” Westra said. “I think it’s another thing that will draw people to campus, especially music people.”