An MCSP Canon

by minton on October 3, 2018

Hannah plays upright bass,
Rich plays lead guitar,
Melody, rhythm beat, melody, rhythm beat, MCSP stars.

MCSP faculty are active in a variety of ways, and music especially plays a large role in our interests. Hannah Robbins plays upright bass and sings in a band named Leftover Biscuits that plays “old-grass” music, a mix of bluegrass and old-time styles. Rich Grant was in a group named Buc9D9, consisting of a trio of Roanoke College professors. The band played rock and pop songs in various locations around town. Buc9D9 has not been active recently, but Rich is maintaining his chops, and Hannah’s got the Biscuits.

Shende’s tabla rolls,
Maggie’s oboe soars,
Melody, rhythm beat, melody, rhythm beat, MCSP scores

Anil Shende plays the tabla, an Indian rhythm instrument a little like a bongo. Anil can vary the pitch of his beat using hand pressure. You can often see him perform on campus as part of Diwali festivities with sitar player John Protopapas. Maggie Rahmoeller is an accomplished oboist who plays with the Valley Chamber Orchestra. Maggie is in demand in the Roanoke Valley, accompanying the Roanoke College Choir and sitting in with various other groups.

Claire sings heavenly,
Jan’s church handbells ring,
Melody, rhythm beat, melody, rhythm beat, MCSP queens

Claire Staniunas is a mainstay of Our Lady of Nazareth’s choir, often singing solos and the verses in responsorial psalms. Jan Minton is in the Salem Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir, which plays regularly in church and performs occasionally in public.

Rama kriti themes,
Robb raps physics memes,
Melody, rhythm beat, melody, rhythm beat, MCSP team

Rama Bala sings Indian traditional music, often in a format known as a kriti. Carnatic music has a long history in the region where she grew up. Dan Robb has put Physics lyrics to rap music that he composed on his computer. This puts Physics in a fun context for his students.

Perhaps this impressive collection of musical talents is why our department is so harmonious. You may be tempted to think that music provides a relaxing change of pace from our technical disciplines, but that would ignore the strong connections between music and STEM fields. Both feature a focus on intricate patterns and an appreciation for small but important improvisations within a set of common rules. We don’t believe in the “Music of the Spheres” anymore, but music is definitely a part of the MCSP canon.