Field Trip to NYC
Commentary by Emilie Coakley (M.A.R., religion and music, ’14) and Sara Couden (Artist Diploma, voice, ’14)
Early in the morning on October 5, we boarded buses bound for an ISM day-trip to explore the sights and sounds of New York City, a learning excursion as a preview of our upcoming study trip to Italy. Our day began at St. Ignatius Loyola Church, the façade of which, we learned from Dr. Edmund C. Ryder, is reminiscent of Il Gesu, the Jesuit mother-church in Rome. Inside this beautiful baroque basilica, amid stunning mosaics and Tiffany stained glass, we had the privilege of music making in fine ISM fashion. Singing Palestrina’s Sicut cervus, conducted by Knox Sutterfield (M.M. Choral Conducting ’14), and listening to our organists Tate Addis and Wyatt Smith (M.M. Organ ’15) try out the Mander Organ, reminded me not only of the incredibly diverse talent of our ISM community, but of the utter joy that it is to make music together. After basking in the baroque splendor at St. Ignatius Loyola, we grabbed bag lunches for a picnic in Central Park, as we made our way across Manhattan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There we toured the Italian paintings in the “European Painting” wing, learning about the historical trajectory of Italian art while marveling at many a Madonna and child.
Our stateside tour through various aspects of Italian music and arts came together through an afternoon lecture at Brick Presbyterian Church by Dr. Stanislao Pugliese. Professor Pugliese took us through centuries of Italian history and literature, colored by stories both humorous and poignant, of how Italian, and eventually Italian-American, experience was informed by the history of their nation-state. Our evening ended with a boat ride with breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and a nightscape of the New York City skyline. In short, our ISM day in NYC helped to sharpen our eyes and ears, readying our minds for what we will take in once we touch down in Italy in eight short months. One thing seems sure: the ISM study tour in Italy will be an unforgettable trip, bringing to fruition our year’s worth of learning and providing unique opportunities for exchanging experiences and ideas with each other, and with the people and places that we have yet to encounter.
Some of the most vivid memories I took away from the field trip were the astounding mosaics and Tiffany windows at St. Ignatius Loyola. The shimmer of light on the reflective surface of the mosaics and the permeation of light through the glass opened up new ways of observing and considering the experience of such beauty, requiring perspective, angle, and the enjoyment of a new sheen from each vantage point. Then, to sing Palestrina in a space designed for a Palestrina sound, and to hear the acoustic as an integral part of the expressive capability of the music, was at once an education and a joy – and of course it was wonderful to sing with representatives from the whole ISM, students and faculty alike.
At the Metropolitan Museum, our group was split into three tours. Our tour examined, among other paintings, a portrait of Jesus by Antonello da Messina. His intimate depiction of Christ’s suffering was so starkly empathetic that it stays with me—I couldn’t look away from the face he’d painted. Early medieval tempera panel paintings were another high point of our tour. Subjects and colors were all very vivid; the paintings’ softly glowing reds and bright golds were almost surreal, especially considering their age.
Finally, our cruise on the Hudson was great! Such a wonderful chance to relax with friends…. Some of us were seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time in person—the government may have been shut down, but our Lady was lit up!
~ Sara Couden