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Student Association Brings Music to Winterfest

Bands with University Ties Provide Tunes

Bearstronaut, a synth-pop band featuring UMass Lowell alumni recently nominated for "Best Electronic Act" at the Boston Music Awards, will be featured in MEISA’s Sound Gallery at Winterfest.

By Julia Gavin

Looking to strengthen their ties to the community and to local performers, students in the UMass Lowell Music and Entertainment Industry Association (MEISA) are offering an array of music at the 12th annual Lowell Winterfest. They plan to showcase local bands with ties to the University through two projects at the downtown festival.

The first project, called the Sound Gallery, is the creation of MEISA President LeAnne Piepiora. In the gallery, visitors will hear a rotating selection of local musicians at listening stations. The idea was originally pitched as part of a series of pop-up galleries slated to open downtown in February.

“I was looking for ways for MEISA to branch out as an organization and to get more involved with the community,” says Piepiora. “After seeing the call for pop-up galleries, I thought that music is a form of art and maybe we could propose a gallery based on audible art instead of visual art.”

With support from her association members, Piepiora submitted an application. Unfortunately, the pop-up gallery project hit a few snags and didn’t look like it would happen in time for Winterfest. 

After hearing about the students’ idea, a local art association, the Arts League of Lowell, offered MEISA space in their temporary gallery at 117 Merrimack St. Visitors can enjoy local art in the visual art section and then listen to local musicians in the MEISA space. 

The show will run from Feb. 4 to 29 and is open noon to 4 p.m. on the weekends. The gallery will also be open for the Winterfest Gallery Walk on Feb. 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. and the show’s reception on Feb. 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. 

“The first bands featured are Empty Phrases, Hetfield & Hetfield, New Highway Hymnal and Bearstronaut, which are all Lowell-based and many members have ties to the University,” says Piepiora. “The featured artists will vary weekly to keep the material fresh and to give community members even more opportunities to check out the wonderful music being made around them.”

Festival Offers Opportunities for Students and Musicians

In addition to the Sound Gallery, MEISA students helped book some of the musicians performing at Winterfest. Local bands Western Education, Empty Phrases and The Bridgebuilders will play from noon to 3 p.m. on Feb. 11. Nearly all of the musicians are students at UMass Lowell, offering the community an opportunity to see and hear the campus talent.

Piepiora says that being involved with Winterfest is an opportunity for MEISA students to gain experience booking and curating shows and working with professionals on a large-scale event. Skills learned during this project will help the students organize and promote their annual Mothers of Rock event on March 6.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to be involved in Winterfest because it gets our name out and lets people know that we are students who want to be involved,” says Piepiora. “Hopefully this event will connect us to people and opportunities that will open doors for us in the future and will showcase some of the talent growing in the city.”

Tsongas Center Celebrates with the Community

Also during Winterfest, the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell will host a free skate from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 9 followed by a broomball tournament open to public spectators. Teams include Team Half-Centaur, Team Greek Council and the UMass Lowkids who will all compete for a $300 Visa cash card. For the full event listing, visit the official Lowell Winterfest website