Students were enjoying their lunch, catching up with friends or doing homework, when suddenly a rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” started playing during last week’s Stamp Friday Showcase.
Iain Forrest and Francis Kang, also known by their group name Eyeglasses String Music, set up their piano and electric cellos at Stamp’s North Atrium during the lunch hour and played covers of pop songs, but with their own classical twist.
Stamp Special Events and Programs Graduate Assistant Kaylin Brewer said Stamp Friday Showcase is a weekly talent show that features student performers and bands. The show is held in the North Atrium of Stamp in front of the Maryland Co-Op every Friday during the Fall and Spring semesters. In good weather, the concert is also sometimes held in the Nyumburu Amphitheater, she said.
“I was having a really low day today,” Freshman biological sciences major Diksha Patel said. “After eating, I was just going to leave but it sounded really good so I came down and sat here.”
The duo played through many easily recognizable tracks: from Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” to Justin Bieber’s “Cold Water” and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Some students stopped in their tracks to listen (and pull out their phones to capture the moment and post it on Snapchat) and then left, while others stayed during Eyeglasses String Music’s whole set.
Forrest said he and Kang wanted “to explore the possibilities of playing other types of music on classical instruments,” and the Stamp Friday Showcase was the “perfect venue” to share that idea with others. Forrest and Kang, both senior cellular biology and molecular genetics majors, have been performing at Stamp Friday Showcase since their freshmen year.
The showcase grew out of another program, Phat Phridays, where Stamp Special Events and Programs contracted with non-University performers to play each week, Brewer said. However, they wanted to incorporate students more into Stamp Special Events programming, so Stamp Friday Showcase was created. It usually attracts 12 to 14 performers each semester, she said.
“The University of Maryland is one of our favorite venues to perform at,” Forrest said. “We certainly think it’s one of the more intimate venues.”
Performing at the showcase has “empowered” them to engage with the university community, he said, from random strangers recognizing him to finding Eyeglasses String Music on the campus Snapchat story to collaborating with other artists on campus.
“This is my first time [attending a Stamp Friday Showcase],” Patel said. “I don’t usually hang out at Stamp. I usually just grab my food and leave, but I’m glad I stayed this time. It was really good.”
Next time she comes to a Stamp Friday Showcase, she said she will probably bring more people with her.