As a piano player of 13 years, Kellen Woolhiser (‘27) decided to share his talents at the Student Activities Committee Coffeehouse event on Thursday, Sep. 14. Performing a variety of pieces, such as orchestral pieces and Broadway songs, Woolhiser filled the Bultman Student Center Family Room with his serenades for over an hour.
“It was really fun just getting to run through a bunch of different music,” Woolhiser said. “I like the idea of getting exposure, getting out there and playing in front of people, just getting as many little opportunities like this as I can, which was kind of my goal coming here.”
Every other Thursday, students are invited to bring their homework, snacks and friends to the BSC Great Room to enjoy the Coffeehouse performances. With two performers over the course of the two-hour event, Coffeehouse displays the many talents of Hope College students, including solo singers, bands, instrumentalists, dancers and poets. Director of Coffeehouse, Matt Czmer (‘24), loves seeing students express themselves in the safe space Coffeehouse provides. “It makes me really happy that these students have a creative output, they have a place to play their instrument or sing or whatever they might be doing,” Czmer said. “It’s just a really great time to sit around for students to do homework, relax, hang out, take a break for their day, and get ready for Friday.”
As a 2014 Hope alumni, Coordinator of Student Life, and SAC Advisor, Teagan Quinnell has seen Coffeehouse events evolve over the years. She remembers a time when they took place in the old Kletz Market, and she has overseen the program as it transitioned from a weekly to a bi-weekly event due to a lack of performers. “This year, we are doing Coffeehouse every other Thursday,” Quinnell said. “I don’t know if it’s that people don’t want to perform, but I know people have tons of talent, so we’re doing our best to reach out to students that we know.”
On top of student performers, Coffeehouse also features different groups on campus, according to Quinnell. “We might do a collaboration with worship,” she said. “We like to also work with certain MSOs because they like to do a Coffeehouse takeover, and they like to display different cultures.”
Czmer hopes that hosting the event every other week will make it easier to find performers and alleviate the pressure that some students may feel to perform. He offers some advice for those who are on the fence of performing at Coffeehouse: “I would tell them that it is a very welcoming environment. Nobody here is judging you for any of your abilities. I myself am not musically inclined, so anybody who has any musical talent is impressive to me. It’s just a super welcoming space and we really love students to come participate.”
Quinnel and Woolhiser also spoke to the nerves of any students considering performing at Coffeehouse. Both agreed that it is a low-stress environment, and Woolhiser added from his experience, saying, “…you’re just playing some nice ambiance music while [students] study so it’s as much as much fun enjoyment for you as it is for anyone listening.”
One of the many students who attended Coffeehouse on Thursday is Katie Barth (‘27), whose first Coffeehouse proved to be a relaxing evening spent working on her homework. Barth, who hopes to one day perform at Coffeehouse, applauds all of the student performers: “I think what makes this event special is that we get to see our peers showcase their talents and we get to celebrate them…that’s a really special thing about Hope and its character.”
If you are interested in performing at Coffeehouse, scan the QR code and fill out the form.