Summer! Presented by PSH Music Department


Mitchell Carson

Jill Graybill conducts the Concert Band

On March 23rd and 24th, the Penn State Harrisburg Music Department and the Penn State Harrisburg School of Humanities presented the band concert Summer, a music program celebrating the “warmer side of sound.” The concert featured Penn State Harrisburg’s orchestra and band. 


The concert opened with the campus orchestra performing selections from A Midsummer Night’s Dream which included The Wedding March, Scherzo, and Nocturne. The campus orchestra is directed by Dr. Julia Adams. “Orchestra usually includes strings where the band does not, and focuses more on the classical thing at PSUHBG,” Admas said. 


Campus orchestra faded out a few years ago, but now the program is slowly but surely coming back. “Orchestra hasn’t been around for a couple years, there are not as many string players on campus and three players are also in the band,” Adams stated. 


Music has become a bit more challenging since the pandemic but PSH’s music program is doing it’s best to overcome the new obstacles and continue making a positive impact on students. “Music was improving before COVID, but then COVID turned it into a working process…Music means a lot to the kids, for most of them participating in a music ensemble helps them in their other fields of study. Music is playing a role in their lives,” Adams stated. 


After the orchestra, the campus band took the stage and performed I’ve Had the Time of My Life, The song Summertime from the musical Porgy and Bess, The House of the Rising Sun, Great Movie Adventures, What a Wonderful World, and I Get Around/Surfer Girl. The songs Summertime and What a Wonderful World featured vocals from band members Allison Williams, Olivia Jablonski, and Ryan Rothgaber. 


Dr. Adam Gustafson serves as the music director at Penn State Harrisburg and is proud to have the role. “Being the music director on this campus is a fantastic opportunity, because our program is small, we have a lot of flexibility in terms of repertoire and concert themes. Additionally, the small size of our program allows for a lot of student involvement in the planning process,” Gustafon says. 


The music program has its own unique aspect. “One aspect about our program is that all of the musicians in our ensembles major in something other than music, which isn’t offered as a major on our campus. Because of this, we get a lot of students who continue to perform simply because they love making music. That spirit underlies everything we do on this campus. In the past, we’ve even supported student-led ensembles such as a jazz band and barbershop quartet.” 


Despite the past two years being shaky in schools due to the COVID-19 pandmeic, it didn’t stop the music department from stepping out and being heard. “This was the second concert since the pandemic, we also had one at the end of the fall semester. Prior to the pandemic, our music ensembles were very active on campus and in the community. Our ensembles have performed at We Are Weekend, Four Diamonds Fundraisers, Alumni Events, and Sporting Events over the years. We’ve also partnered with local churches a number of times to bring our music into the Middletown community. While we are in the midst of rebuilding, we had robust participation prior to the pandemic. Across our three main ensembles, we have had as many as 80 students participating,” Gustafon said. 


The themes for the concerts vary every time and celebrate various things. “We do a different theme every semester. Usually, our winter concert celebrates various holiday traditions and our spring concerts run the gamut. Past concert themes have included everything from an 80s themed concert to a Caribbean Christmas. The themes are part of the fun,” said Gustafon. 


Concert themes for next year are in the works. The band is planning and working on the theme of “Spirit of Thanks, Spirit of Giving” for the fall concert. The fall concert occurs the week before Thanksgiving Break. While a theme for next spring is undecided, it’s said that the concert will celebrate dance and is hoping the dance program will get involved and help out. 

Music ensembles for Fall 2022 are open for students of all majors on campus. The ensemble credits count as General Education: Arts. The ensembles are MUSIC 88: Campus Choir, MUSIC 82: Concert Band, and MUSIC 100: Campus Orchestra. Students interested in the music ensembles as well as placing a minor in music can contact Dr. Adam Gustafson through their Penn State email at [email protected]

Dr. Julia Adams conducts the campus orchestra (Mitchell Carson)
Dr. Adam Gustafson – Music Director (Mitchell Carson)
Allison Williams and Olivia Jablonski perform “Summertime” (Mitchell Carson)
Ryon Rothgaber Sings What a Beautiful World (Mitchell Carson)