Play for a Cure: WSU students organize playathon benefitting cancer research
By: Zack Menchel
Pullman, Wash. Visitors to the Terrell Library atrium were greeted by the brilliant melodies of classical music on Jan. 25 as part of a piano playathon that raised nearly $1 thousand dollars benefitting the American Cancer Society.
The event showcased a handful of talented young pianists from WSU’s School of Music performing both classical and jazz repertoire to show support for a beloved professor who is battling cancer.
Dr. Karen Savage was recently diagnosed with breast cancer but has since resumed her teaching duties at the university while undergoing treatment.
Juliana Witt, a student of Savage’s who helped to orchestrate the event said she and seven other students wanted to give back to Savage through the gift of music while simultaneously raising money and awareness for a good cause.
“I think we just wanted to show our collective love and support for a professor we all know and care for that is fighting cancer,” she said.
“We felt that in playing music, we’re doing what we do best in order to benefit the lives of others.”
The playathon was intended as an addition to “Atrium Music”, an on-going series of impromptu concerts and recitals featuring aspiring musicians and was facilitated by WSU’s collegiate chapter of the Music Teachers National Association.
Sandra Albers, a performing arts facilities coordinator in her 17th year at the School of Music sees the playathon and other related atrium performances as not only a great dress-rehearsal for the musicians to perfect their craft but also a relaxing experience for any foot traffic meandering through the library.
“The Atrium Series helps people to be exposed to music while going about their business in the library,” she said.
“It also simply allows people to stop and take a break on Friday afternoon, sit down and just listen to something beautiful and inspiring.”
Leaning back comfortably in her chair, Stephanie Long gently closed her eyes and bobbed her head back and forth in unison with the plethora of calming sounds permeating the room around her.
Long, a junior secondary education major said she initially entered the library completely oblivious to the playathon but instantly felt compelled to take a seat near the atrium’s grand piano to soak up the atmosphere.
“I was raised around music and have loved it my entire life as it’s always been something that’s been there for me,” she said.
“I still play music to this day and see it as part of my genetics, my DNA, a portion of me I couldn’t live without it.”
Long said she appreciated the fact that the playathon raised funds for a beneficial organization and hopes that the atrium continues to house events such as these, encouraging students to attend.
“Music should be a part of every student’s life because it helps create balance,” said Long.”
“As stressful as school is, music helps build a place where people can escape to reflect, relax, or just deal with whatever it is an individual is facing regardless if one is playing, producing, or listening.”
The appeal of soothing music in the atrium is undeniable but the question remains as to whether events such as the playathon can become a regular occurrence in the future and thrive without the added bonus of promoting a good cause.
“The beauty of it all is that people can come and go as they please or sit down to eat their lunch in a relaxing setting,” said Witt.
“It creates a greater sense of community and is so much more than just a performance.”
1. Julianna Witt
Title: Student/Teaching Assistant
2. Sandra Albers
Title: WSU School of Music Performing Arts Facilities Coordinator
3. Stephanie Long
On Friday, Jan. 25 eight WSU students performed both classic and original compositions on a piano in the Terrell Library Atrium. The series of performances was organized by the students in order to support a professor who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Dr. Karen Savage. The event raised $900 in funds.
- Time and Place
- Amount Raised
- Showcase of young pianists
- To benefit cancer research, honor Dr. Savage
- Pros of event/music in general