A Showtune Sendoff For Retiring Trinity Music Prof Gerald Moshell

"Farewell, Old World," Cunegonde sings in the finale to the first act of the musical "Candide."

"Kiss today goodbye. Point me toward tomorrow," the hopeful auditioner Diana croons in "What I Did for Love" from the show "A Chorus Line."

Both these optimistic moving-on sentiments will be heard Sept. 22 at Trinity College, during the final concert to be presented by Professor of Music Gerald Moshell.

"This is my retirement concert," Moshell says in a phone interview Wednesday morning. "It's a metaphor for me riding off into the sunset."

Moshell's been on the Trinity faculty for 41 years. He's currently teaching a "swift survey of music history," but in the past has taught everything from music theory to opera to a personal favorite, the works of Igor Stravinsky.

Stravinsky was the subject of his graduate dissertation at Harvard. Shortly after graduation, he says, "I came to Trinity, hired to be a choral conductor and teach history. I was able to convince the dean of faculty to let me add musical theater production to what I do. I wanted lots and lots of performances. I didn't need it to be counted as part of my course load."

Moshell built up a musical-theater program that was at one point producing four musicals simultaneously, for annual performance festivals that culminated with a marathon of all four shows.

"Doing four shows at a time allowed us to do an amazing amount of repertoire," he says, including obscure seldom-produced titles that "people would come from all over to see."

Moshell stayed in academia despite an opportunity to work as the general musical assistant for the renowned composer /conductor Leonard Bernstein. He has no regrets, especially since "I was able to work for Bernstein part-time anyway. It was an irreplaceable experience."

The Sept. 22 concert at Trinity's Goodwin Theater will reflect Moshell's eclectic tastes, including his deep-rooted love of musical theater. It will open with Manuel de Falla's Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Ensemble, followed by Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony. The second half features a Bach cantata but is mostly given over to showtunes: those "Candide" and "Chorus Line" numbers, but also "Color and Light" from Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park With George" and songs from the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas "Iolanthe" and "Patience."

Also included is Moshell's own setting of Shakespeare's 116th Sonnet, which begins "Let me not to the marriage of true minds." The song was part of "Lives and Loves," a musical set in a college music class that Trinity students were able to perform in an off-off-Broadway theater in 2015. It's one of several shows Moshell wrote over the years that were "specifically tailored for some of my students."

The day after his final concert, Trinity is holding a "grand reunion" of more than 250 of Moshell's students. The professor is sure that there will be "informal performances" at that private event. He sees it as his legacy.

"When I was studying musicology at Harvard, I realized I wasn't interested in that program. I was interested in doing performance stuff."

Moshell, who lives in Ledyard and occasionally freelances as a music critic, says he has "no particular plans" for his retirement.

"We'll just see what happens."

It's not as if his four decades at Trinity College could have been called predictable.

"I've had an academic career, but it didn't always look like one. Doing all these shows we really wanted to see, that nobody else had heard of — and because they were for the students, we didn't have to worry about the box office."

Gerald Moshell's final concert at Trinity College is at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the school's Goodwin Theater, 300 Summit St., Hartford. Soloists include Trinity alumni Christopher Houlihan, Liesl Odenweller, Meg Kiley Smith, Patrick Greene and Michael Ersevim. The concert is free, but tickets are required, and can be reserved through mailto://AustinArtsInfo@trincoll.edu. 860-297-2199, trincoll.edu/Arts/Pages/AustinArtsCenter.aspx

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