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Student charity event showcases CSULB talent

Krista Brooks, Staff Writer

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Inside the building, the room was decorated with garlands, Christmas lights and a large sign that read, “Tis’ the Season” in cursive writing with a gold tinsel border. The University Theatre was transformed into a holiday treat, decorated for this special event. The stage was illuminated with stars and lights to bring the focus of the decorations to the performers.

The newly-established Cal State Long Beach Event Planning class, COMM 337, held a music charity event, dubbed “Tis’ the Season for Talent,” in the University Student Union Theater on Thursday and Friday to raise money for an undergrad scholarship.

“Tis’ the Season for Talent” was created by Jonathon Evans, a COMM 337 student. The students of this class each pitched an idea, and Evans’ concert idea was chosen to execute.

Evans created the idea with Mario Max Granville in mind. Granville is a 21-year-old psychology and child development student at CSULB. He had auditioned playing piano for a performance in the Carpenter Center against several other talented musicians and performers.

Granville won the talent audition and was chosen to be given the stage out of all the other competitors. However, the plans fell through because Granville is not a music major, and therefore could not be funded by the school. Evans planned this two-night event so Granville could have the stage, and an audience that could hear Granville’s music and story.

Granville had lost his hearing when he was three-years-old, and had reconstructive surgery to salvage minor hearing when he was six. He is inspired by Beethoven, and knows many of his pieces by heart.

The concert began with Jennifer Rockett, a sophomore biology major, who sings for a church in Compton. She set off the night with a Christmas song, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).” Dressed in a formal black dress and heels, Rockett’s voice filled the theatre with holiday spirit and joy.

The holiday spirit continued with Kyle McElderry, a senior men’s volleyball athlete. Accompanied by Clint Keyworth, the two played guitar as McElderry sang his original song, “Place Called Home,” from his upcoming album. Their final song was an acoustic version of Kanye West’s “Heartless,” which the crowd clapped and sang along to.

Granville played next, with a grand piano center stage and lights glowing the entire stage a deep red color.

Granville played two pieces, one of Beethoven’s and one of his own. Dressed in a black suit, his stage presence and talent awed the audience.

After a 10-minute intermission, Adam Gomez, a communications major from St. Louis took the stage. He played his acoustic guitar and opened with an original song.

His voice and songs sounded soothing and alluring, much like singer Jack Johnson. He sang another original song named, “Adam’s Apple,” which was written for a former girlfriend of his, named Apple.

The concert closed with another performance by Granville. The stage was once again illuminated in red, and changed for each piece that Granville played. He ended the night with Beethoven, an original piece called “Love is Fleeting,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” and “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Granville changed the four-finger parts to two-finger parts for the last piece, a composition that very few pianists can play.

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