Bobby Murray ’23 gives concert performance of his album
May 12, 2022
Bobby Murray ’23, accompanied by a robust group of student musicians and videographers, debuted a live rendition of his album “Planet 2” in Studzinski Recital Hall on Sunday. The original recording of “Planet 2,” which Murray had never before performed live, included all the instrumental and vocal parts that appeared on stage. The performance was part of Murray’s advanced lesson recital, which usually acts as a culmination of the music that a student has played over the course of their Bowdoin career. However, instead of using the recital as an outlet for the jazz he had focused on in his music lessons, Murray decided to take his recital in a different direction by performing his original work.
Murray adapted and arranged all of the music from his album for the student performers, working with professors and students in the rhythm, strings and vocal sections to bring his album from streaming platforms to the stage.
“Being able to hear it live was really a dream come true,” Murray said. “I just figured if I have an excuse to put the album together live, I might as well.”
Murray populated the rhythm and vocal sections with many of his past collaborators, including Kevin Ryff ’22 and Colter Adams ’24. For the string section he received recommendations from Professor of Music Vineet Shende, who also helped to edit his string arrangements.
“I reach[ed] out to these people and luckily they all said yes. I was expecting to have to go through three rounds of [asks] to get people,” Murray said.
Cellist Jasmine Jia ’25 was one of the performers recommended to Murray by Shende.
“[Murray] was basically like, ‘hey, I’ve got this really cool project, you can listen to my album on Spotify. There’s going to be a lot of instrumentalists. There’s going to be a dancer and vocalists. We’re going to rehearse every week until the concert, and it’d be really cool if you could join,’” Jia said. “I was like, ‘why not?’”
Jia described the creative process of working with Murray as positive and spoke about the collaborative nature of their rehearsals.
“He was just really receptive to feedback. If there was something that didn’t work mechanically on an instrument or we had a suggestion, he was very open to interpretation and adjustments,” Jia said.
Members of the individual instrumental sections practiced once a week with Murray in separate rehearsals until the final weeks leading up to the performance, when they started to practice as a group. Despite the weekly rehearsals, Murray lamented not having more time to practice beforehand.
“[If I could do anything differently,] I would probably allot for two months more of rehearsals—that would be nice. I guess after any performance, everyone says that, if we could just practice like a hundred more times, we could be better,” Murray said.
The performance was not without its difficulties. Unbeknownst to the audience, Murray’s acoustic guitar malfunctioned, and he couldn’t play a plucking transition that he had originally planned. Murray communicated this malfunction with guitarist Kevin Ryff and asked him if he could play a chord sequence during the transition, which he did successfully. Murray was impressed with Ryff’s ability to improvise in the spur of the moment.
Murray’s family also played a part in concert preparations. At the beginning of the program, Murray thanked his brother for his illustrations in the program that depicted the lyrics to each of Murray’s songs. The performance, which took place on Mother’s Day, ended with a song dedicated to Murray’s mother, who was in the audience. After heartfelt comments about his mother’s recent degree and her dedication to him and his siblings, the ensemble joined Murray in a rendition of Billy Joel’s “Vienna,” one of his mother’s favorite songs.
Bobby Murray wrapped up his feelings on the show.
“I guess I’m just grateful that everyone made time for this, because everyone is so damn busy. I’m so grateful to perform my album live, there’s just not a ton to complain about, you know?” Murray said.
Before submitting a comment, please review our comment policy. Some key points from the policy: