'Hogwarts at Hartwick' Musical Dinner Benefits Community

October 23, 2009

Miniature versions of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter as well as some larger-than-life replications of the wizarding community filled the First United Methodist Church on Saturday, October 17. A benefit in support of the Oneonta World of Learning, members of the Hartwick Music Department and the First United Methodist Church organized a dinner with a magical twist.

"As director of instrumental music at Hartwick, primarily the wind ensemble," explained Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Jason Curley, "I am responsible for producing a series of concerts on behalf of the Music Department. However, I'm not your typical band director, and I know the students and community see this now. Our performances have purpose."

The Hartwick College and Catskill Valley wind ensembles combined their musical talents for this event.

"Catskill Valley regularly performs at FUMC, and I jumped at the prospect of a Halloween concert that would reach out to a young audience. With that in mind I decided to throw a dinner before the themed concert," said Curley.

Curley contacted FUMC's Children's Ministries Coordinator Lisa Jo Bezner, who was already working on a program titled "Harry Potter in the Muggle World." Bezner applied the motifs of friendship, loyalty, kindness, and generosity found within J.K. Rowling's best-selling series to real-life situations for her students. Curley then developed a concert program based on the Harry Potter series.

After bringing these different elements together, Bezner and Curley decided to find a deserving non-profit organization in the Oneonta community.

"Together, we decided that a worthy beneficiary could be the Oneonta World of Learning," said Curley. "OWL is dedicated to exploration and education through play. They are a new non-profit in Oneonta with a strong team and positive energy. We are excited to see how OWL will make use of the funds."

During the concert, the representative from OWL explained that they will use the money to look for a space of their own. Right now, they are working with a local university to find the best location for a museum.

Bezner explained that through this experience she wanted to teach children that they can help others by using their talents. Bezner involved children and parents in decorating for this special feast.

Several professors at Hartwick sponsored family tickets to provide a wonderful experience to needy families.

Other professors participated in a slightly less conventional way. In order to establish the true Hogwarts experience, several members of the Hartwick community dressed in their wizard best.

"Dr. Gary Stevens was so excited at the prospect, he even sent in a headshot of himself dressed as Professor Dumbledore," said Curley.

In addition to Professor of Mathematics Stevens, Assistant Professor of Art Stephanie Rozene dressed as Madame Hooch; Associate Professor of Accounting Penny Wightman as Professor McGonagall; Off Campus Programming Coordinator Emily Quackenbush as Rita Skeeter; Assistant Director of Advising Joe Ficano as Severus Snape; Associate Professor of Economics Carlena Ficano as Professor Trelawney; Sam Morse '11 as Hagrid; and Associate Professor of Philosophy Stefanie Rocknak as a Hogwart's Adjunct Professor.

During dinner, the Hartwick/Hogwarts professors sat at head table. The dining arrangement resembled the Great Hall of the Harry Potter movies. Families were "sorted" into the different houses of Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Gryffindor. Dinner consisted of chicken, bread, corn, potatoes, pumpkin pie bars, and hot apple cider.

After dinner, families moved into the FUMC sanctuary for a concert by the joint wind ensembles. The selection included of "Night on Bald Mountain," the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean, and, of course, "Hedwig's Theme."

Donations for the event were made by local businesses including Knitting It All Together, Green Toad Bookstore, and Latte Lounge. Scholastic Inc. donated several copies of the Harry Potter books for the students in Bezner's program and bookmarks that were included in the gift bags. Music Professor Diane Paige donated her time as she helped to prepare the food for the Hogwarts feast.

"We were very pleased to see that, in one evening, we raised $650 to go toward OWL and its mission. This event did not only financially benefit the organization, but also gave them enormous positive exposure to families in the community," said Curley.

On Tuesday, December 1, at 6 p.m. at FUMC, the Hartwick College Music Department will present the second annual Musical Madrigal Dinner. This event will benefit Nurses Without Borders. For reservations, contact Lynda Clark at

By Sara Williams '10
Reprinted with permission from
Hilltops, the Hartwick College Student Newspaper

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030