Mike Ranellone

Mike Ranellone
English Creative Writing, Music
Saratoga, NY

As a cellist in the St. Lawrence University String Orchestra, I take weekly lessons with orchestra director and cellist Chris Hosmer and play in a quartet along with fellow junior Ally Baier (violin I) and community members Carol Kissam (violin II) and Brian Vo (viola). The camaraderie between the music faculty, students, and community members at St. Lawrence has truly enriched my college experience. I spent my freshman year in Gaines, a small dorm right across the street from Griffiths Arts Center and beautiful Peterson-Kermani Performance Hall, which opened that fall. The lounge in Gaines has a small stage where we’d have mini talent shows and other events. My First-Year Program course, taught by professors Michael Farley and Larry Boyette, was called “Finding a Voice,” and focused on the performing arts. When the world-renowned Alexander String Quartet visited our class toward the middle of the semester, cellist Sandy Wilson became a hugely inspirational figure for me. Their annual campus residency, which includes lectures, class visits, and a concert, truly epitomizes the importance of music and the arts to the campus community.
As a sophomore, I moved into the Arts Annex theme house, next door to Gaines and still right across from Griffiths. My housemates all share an interest in the performing arts. We host monthly open jams in our common room as well as an annual singer-songwriter competition at Pub 56. It’s uncommon to walk through our house during the day and find no one playing music. The Music Library, located on our first floor, offers a collection of recordings and scores as well as study space. It is open to all students and is growing in popularity as a resource both for music coursework and for exploration in the field.
My roommate from last year, current senior Alex Smith, is establishing himself in the Adirondack folk music scene, writing songs inspired by his experiences growing up in Long Lake, NY. Alex invited me to appear as a guest on the last two stops of his 5,000 mile tour this summer. Playing with Alex and other guitarists from campus has expanded my understanding of improvisation and my confidence as a performer. I am grateful both toward Alex for offering such an opportunity and to the music atmosphere at SLU for facilitating our collaboration.
So far, I’ve taken Music Theory, Physics and Perception of Music, and Music and Technology. I look forward to taking Musics of the World and Computer Music Programming next semester. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about SLU’s music program when I chose to enroll here, but the dedication and enthusiasm I found throughout the department ended up being one of the most significant elements of my experience.