by Michael Reistetter
Mount Saint Mary College’s newest club had just the right ingredients to reduce the stresses of midterm week for the entire student body.
Musical Exchange was founded in the fall of 2014 as the result of a spontaneous jam session in the ground floor lobby of Guzman Hall. Co-founders Niko Marzouka and Johnny Vaccaro were walking back to their dorm one day, when they ran into Resident Assistant, Steve Juergensen. After conversing about music for quite some time, the three learned each had a guitar on campus. They all departed for their respective rooms, and met back up in the lobby to play songs together. Later in the evening, they were accompanied by Geoff Quist, who brought down his keyboard and joined them in playing.
“At this point, the lounge was packed with almost 40 people,” said Musical Exchange president Niko Marzouka. “We saw the power that music had (on students), and decided to create ‘Musical Exchange.’”
Fast forward to Oct. 21 of this year, where Musical Exchange was responsible for earning one of largest turnouts of any MSMC event, with 237 names collected on the sign-in sheet outside the Hudson Auditorium.
“I don’t think that the turnout surprised us more than it just make us proud of ourselves for making such a popular event,” said Marzouka.
To pull off a successful event, the officers not only needed flawless promotional efforts, but also a sufficient amount of talent who could both captivate and engage their audience.
“The event was surreal,” said performer and MSMC student Lashawn Jasper. “Being able to sing (on stage), it gives me the ability to share my craft. It opens up doors to a whole new environment.”
In addition to Jasper, who notably sang a mash-up duet of Ed Sheerhan’s “Thinking Out Loud” and Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One” with fellow student-vocalist Jasha Woodall, several other student-musicians were able to “express their souls” throughout the night.
President Niko Marzouka, Vice-President Steve Juergensen, Treasurer Geoff Quist, and Co-founder Johnny Vaccaro all graced the stage to demonstrate their skillsets.
Guy Zoutis, Ashley McDermott, Jacqueline Kosack, Larry Gee, Kristin Curley, Rob “Prez Primo” Carvajal, and Teddy Douse also offered their services to the stage to demonstrate their wide variety of talents as well.
“I felt really comfortable playing in front of such a large crowd because I knew they would support me, no matter how good I am,” said Piano, Keyboard, and drummer Geoff Quist. “I felt like I could really speak to the audience, and they definitely showed great respect for mine and everyone else’s performances.”
The co-founders and officers dealt with the heavy task of memorizing keys, notes, and lyrics, while simultaneously ensuring the coordination of the event was executed perfectly.
“Having such dedicated students working with us was such an important part to making this event successful,” said Marzouka. “Their hard work in planning the event was also crucial. For example, freshman, Eileen Cassidy, created and printed out both the tickets and the programs while also playing an important role in making the banner. Secretary, Will Wiacek, also does great work for us with a very dense and filled schedule. We graciously thank everyone who played a part in making this event possible.”
During breaks between sets and intermissions, Public Relations Representative and event-host, Jake Kosack, kept the entirety of the “MSMC’s Got Talent!” crowd entertained. Kosack channeled inspiration for his humor and delivery from late night personalities like Jimmy Fallon.
“Hosting the event was a great experience,” said Jake Kosack. “But the crowd really made the show what it was. Seeing over 230 smiles out there really made all the hard work and effort worth it.”
Musical Exchange intends to increase membership by encouraging all MSMC students to get involved.
“To be apart of our club, you just have to show up,” said Kosack. “We have meetings to discuss the club and future events on Mondays at 8pm, and on Tuesdays we have Jam sessions at 930pm.”
You do not have to play an instrument or have any musical abilities to join Musical Exchange. According to Marzouka and Kosack, all you need is a passion for music.