Friday, October 12, 2012

As Nick Fantasia, President of the Fairmont State Alumni Association, finished his greetings during the Inauguration of President Maria C. Rose, a young man dressed in a tuxedo stands from behind the orchestra. As the musicians lift their instruments and the first notes are played, the young man stretches, yawns, and begins walking forward. What happens next is astonishing to all in attendance.

Anthony Errigo, a senior majoring in music and business, experienced a new first during the Inauguration of President Maria, C. Rose, when he dazzled the audience with a vibrant rendition of “The Barber of Seville.” While most did not understand the Italian words being sung, Errigo brought the song to life through his performance. His exhilarating movements, paired with the pitch perfect notes, challenged audience members not to tap their feet and smile in awe and appreciation for the talent before them.

“To say I was nervous would be a big understatement,” said Errigo. “Besides being such a large and important event, this was the first time in three months I was singing with the orchestra. And to top it all off, while sitting and listening to the speakers give their welcoming addresses, I had decided to include some impromptu choreography. I feel somewhat guilty, as I should have been listening, but I was too busy thinking ‘ok, look this direction, stand here, move there.’  When I finally stood up, all I could think about is ‘this is crazy!’, and I couldn't stop my legs from shaking.  It all turned out alright, though.”

From his deep black ringlets, to his double major in music and business, to his roots in Oklahoma, to his musical talent, Errigo brings a variety of interests and talents to campus, and he is experiencing new firsts every day. “After graduating high school my mom moved back to New York to be closer to family and so I wanted to find a school on the east coast,” he said. “I didn’t exactly end up on the east coast but I think I landed right where I belong.”

Errigo spends his days doing many different things including being an ARD (Assistant Resident Director) in the dorms but says his real passion is music. “I joined my first choir in fourth grade because you got to go to an ice cream party at the end of the year,” he laughingly recalls. “I stuck with it and over the years discovered a true passion for the meaning and impact that music has.”

Errigo used this passion to inspire his first undergraduate research project funded by FSU’s SURE (student undergraduate research experience) grant where he studied the Mozart effect. “The Mozart effect, which shows that classical music impacts the ability for people to concentrate on tasks, has interested me for a long time and I was curious to see what impact different types of music would have on a group of students taking an exam. We played minimalist music, very calm and repetitive, and complex music, upbeat and changing, while students were doing spatial reasoning, reading comprehension and math.”

While Errigo was not able to get a test group large enough to show significant results, his findings were promising. The math test showed that both the minimalist and the complex music improved performance over the control group. In spatial reasoning the students listening to minimalist music performed better than the complex music group. What was most surprising to Errigo was that the complex music helped in reading comprehension while the minimalist music hindered performance. Errigo explains that this could be due to the slower heart rate and overall calm that often results from minimalist music versus the upbeat and urgent feeling given by the complex music.

“I would love to try this test again with a much larger test group to see if my findings are consistent,” Errigo said.

Outside of doing research, Errigo’s passion for music can also be seen in the time he dedicates to FSU’s choir. As the 2011-2012 winner of the FSU concerto competition, Errigo was provided his First opportunity to sing with the Fairmont Community Orchestra. “I was really nervous but knew that it was an amazing opportunity to perform with great musicians,” he recalled. As a result of that performance, Errigo was chosen to perform during the Inauguration of President Maria C. Rose. As the last note was sung, hundreds of faculty, staff, students, donors and friends, rose to their feet to congratulate Errigo on an outstanding performance.

“The standing ovation was completely unexpected,” Errigo said. “The music we performed was in honor of Dr. Rose as part of her celebration, so to receive that standing ovation, even from Dr. Rose herself, was very moving.  That was the largest crowd I had ever performed for, and it was by far the best performance I have ever had.”

It’s moments like these that remind us all of the talent and Firsts available at Fairmont State.