posted 2011-10-05 13:15:51

Diary of a Sky Bridge Musician

Photo by Mimiko Watanabe
Photo by Mimiko Watanabe
Sean Messina

Staff Writer

Musicians who play in the walkway bridges at Hunter College are everywhere. It is impossible to walk down the hall without hearing a popular song or a recognizable chord progression. Two years ago, a mutual friend introduced me to a young guitarist named to Paul Pasion. That day, Paul and I sang popular songs such as Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”, “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5, and “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. By the end of our two-hour musical session, we had ended up with a small following of six people who were all either singing with us or listening to us, but this was only the beginning.

For the rest of the year, Paul brought his guitar to Hunter every day. He would often allow a small group of people to pass his guitar around and share music and influences. He even began writing music with his comrades in between classes. They formed a musical community in the halls of Hunter. “It adds a social climate to an otherwise anti-social school,” says Rolando Cubela. This social community formed on the sky-bridge, where musicians and creative people had a chance to express themselves.

The sky-bridge became a musical haven, where Paul, myself, and other musicians soon could take a break from the stresses of academic life. Instead of worrying about calculus problems they could watch, listen or participate in a 5-part vocal harmony version of The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.”

Looking around on the sky-bridge, which is on the third floor of Hunter, one may be surprised to learn that nearly a third of the people sitting on the radiators are actually talented songwriters and musicians. Despite their musical inclinations, most of them are not music majors. Some of these students are recreational musicians who consider it to be a hobby, others are serious about music, but do not wish to be part of the music department. Many of them see the department as “narrow-minded” and rather conventional.  Many of the musicians choose not to major in music because they believe that other majors will prove to be more beneficial in the future. “It’s good to hear the types of music that everybody plays,” says Biochemistry and Music major Juan Moreira who, along with Paul and I, founded a band known as SkyBridge, named after the bridge where we met. The band encompasses a variety of musical genres: rock, R & B, and soul. There are no limits on the sky bridge.

The group of musicians that sprung up around Paul has become an enduring legacy in many people’s lives here at Hunter--most of these people remain to be close friends and still hang out on the sky-bridge. Paul no longer attends Hunter--but the true legacy of Paul and his following goes beyond the walls of the Hunter campus.

Three different bands, which formed because of Paul, are: SkyBridge, Black Doctor Jr and Astor Place. A variety of solo artists have also started to gain more notoriety at Hunter. Paul and a current Hunter student, Reisha Cadelina, have been creating and performing cover mash-ups on the Hunter campus and outside of Hunter. “I hope the practice continues,” says Moreira, “so that musicians can continue to meet other musicians”.

And it still is continuing--despite the fact that Paul has left Hunter, his friends still continue to play on the bridge and work together in bands, keeping his legacy alive in our hallways.

But not all Hunter students are happy with the musicians who are playing in the halls. “No one ever complained about the noise,” says Alcove, “because there was always noise anyway. They complained about us sitting on the floor ‘cause they’d trip over us.” Juan Moreira also experienced some frustration when he was playing with a friend, “someone I knew, an acquaintance at the time, started to sing with me at 9:30am and someone turned around and said ‘it’s too early for that.” A bridge singer, who will remain anonymous, had a hate group started about him on Facebook. Although some students are unhappy with the noise that these musicians make, not all students find it distasteful. Many students still gather around—choosing to either sing along or just stand and watch. It helps create a community, which can often be absent at Hunter.