Baldwin Wallace Beatles Festival Rocks Campus


T-Fizzle Photography

From left: Sophomore Mickey Ryan, Senior James Penca, Junior Patrick Hyzy, Senior Nick Pankuch.

The third annual Baldwin Wallace University Beatles Festival rocked the campus March 22- 24, featuring the Beatles’ 19th album Magical Mystery Tour.
The three-day festival was comprised of a review of the concert for students and faculty in Kadel Hall, a full-length concert of the album in the John Patrick Theatre for the community and a new event called “Super Beatles Sunday” in which students performed their own arrangements of Beatles songs.
Senior James Penca, one of the original founders of the festival,remembers two years ago when the Beatles Festival was just an artistic whim of two conservatory students, Jake Mercer and Dave McHenry, who played the Abbey Road album with a small band.
The first year set the precedent for the event: playing a Beatles album from start to finish with total orchestration and replication of all sound effects. The event has grown from a small event with a few musicians to a full-fledged concert packing the 500 seats in the John Patrick Theater to capacity, with a full orchestra and band, in a matter of two years. Penca, a sophomore at the time of the festival’s founding, says he was all on board with the idea.
“I was too big of a Beatles fan to let them do it without me,” Penca said. “One of my favorite parts about doing the whole album is that people can listen to the art of the album as a whole with each song in its right order. It also exposes people to new songs that they’ve never heard.”
Last year, the group brought the Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Band to campus and also added a new member. Junior Patrick Hyzy joined the BW Beatles as a band member, but he also now has the responsibility of arranging the songs, booking the venues and planning the program. Hyzy says the best part of the Beatles festival is seeing classically trained students in the Conservatory get the chance to express themselves through rock music.
“There is an uncanny buzz when people get to go and listen to rock music in a hall that is reserved for classical music. It brings out a lot in the more classically trained students who want to express themselves,” Hyzy said.
Penca and Hyzy are proud of the fact that the Beatles festival is completely student run.
“The festival has grown exponentially since the beginning. The thought that we may have started something that could live on forever is amazing,” Hyzy said.
Reaching beyond the BW community, the group performed at the popular Cleveland jazz club Nighttown and held an interview on National Public Radio.
“Next year we want the festival to feature three concerts at the John Patrick Theater in Kleist. We also hope to expand to other events like lectures, and recitals, master classes that involve the rest of the campus,” Hyzy said.
The album to be featured next year is one of the Beatles’ longest and most extensive: The White Album.