An Enduring Colby Connection Through Music

On Oct. 10 the Colby Jazz Ensemble premiered a virtual concert featuring four much-loved tunes from the standard jazz repertoire, “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “Night and Day,” “Shall We Dance,” and “So Nice (Summer Samba).” The concert showcased the musical talents of Colby College Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble Director Eric Thomas, Colby College Chair and Associate Professor of Music Jon Hallstrom, and Music Associates Duane Edwards and RJ Miller with special guest Julia Warnock ’19 on vocals. This kind of collaboration within the Colby community is an integral part of fostering a thriving creative culture on campus. Bringing artists together across all disciplines and throughout the liberal arts curriculum is a priority for the College. The new Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts is the physical manifestation of this commitment to collaboration and innovation. The facility will serve as a place for artists to come together and explore new ways to create.

While Julia Warnock ’19 graduated from Colby with a degree in global studies and Spanish, she was heavily involved in music on Mayflower Hill. She sang in The Megalomaniacs a cappella group and performed in a jazz quartet among other musical activities that allowed her to pursue her passion for singing. After developing strong bonds with the professors in the Music Department, she has continued to build upon her connection with both Colby and music after graduation, performing at multiple events including three for the Dare Northward campaign launch. 

We sat down with Julia to hear about how music impacted her time at Colby and beyond.

How did your involvement in music at Colby shape your time on Mayflower Hill?

Music defined my Colby experience. I wasn’t a music major or minor, but I built strong relationships across the Music Department, which is a testament to its inclusive and kind nature. After auditioning for jazz band freshman year, Eric and I worked closely. I was also in a quartet with Jon. There weren’t many days that went by where I wasn’t in Bixler for one of my musical groups. It really influenced who I became.

In fall 2023 the College plans to open doors to the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts. As an alumna how does it feel to see Colby committing to the arts in such a bold way?

I’ve seen the design and I’m so jealous! I love that it’s meant to cross disciplines and will welcome any student who wants to get involved in the arts. It’s important to have a place that is accessible and tech friendly if Colby is going to keep up with the arts standards necessary for a comprehensive liberal arts education. Right now arts majors are a small, mighty, and passionate community. I think having the Gordon Center as the physical space to manifest their interests will help them grow. I can’t wait to see the creativity that comes from it! 

You performed at several Dare Northward campaign launch events including those in Chicago, Portland, Maine, and Boston. What inspired you to get involved? 

It was such an honor to perform in front of hundreds of Colby alumni, parents, students, and friends. It was my way of giving back to my alma mater to help ensure amazing opportunities in the arts and beyond continue to exist for future generations at Colby. Events are so much fun and I love getting to connect with people I haven’t seen in awhile. The power of the Colby network after you graduate is so strong. I’m really looking forward to enjoying in-person Colby when it’s safe to do so. 

What was your experience like preparing for and performing in this Jazz Ensemble concert?

Jon has been doing work in the combination of music and tech, which pairs well with the moment we are in. He led us in this effort and helped us with our recordings so we could submit our completed sections. During the pandemic live music hasn’t been possible, so the opportunity to sing with such talented musicians was a blast. It was a wonderful way to get back into singing and for the musicians to come together to show that music groups can still play during this unusual time. I’m excited for more innovative opportunities like this to create with fellow musicians.