It is not unusual for one to enter Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Centennial Student Union early on a Wednesday afternoon and hear the soft sound of live music emanating from the Hearth Lounge. The Serendipity music series, facilitated by Lenny Koupal, invites local musicians to come play for eager MSU students in a calm, street corner-like environment.
Serendipity can be defined as the “occurrence of happy events by chance” and this is exactly the feeling Koupal hopes to give with these bi-weekly performances.
“Serendipity Music Series is all about taking that brief moment to make people think something different about their music interests when they happen upon us,” said Koupal.
Koupal, who began working at MSU in 2010, wears many hats as the CSU’s Communications Coordinator.
“I mostly do marketing, but am also in charge of some programming which includes the Serendipity Music Series. We have our therapy dogs program and we are just starting up our Open Mic program,” Koupal stated.
When Koupal started his career at MSU, the idea of the Serendipity series had already been hatched.
“It was a music series where they brought in some Mankato artists periodically. When I started with the position, the director was interested in the whole idea of ‘serendipity,’ which means, for us, to have something pleasant and unexpected for students to discover,” said Koupal.
Koupal began to refine the series with director Lori Woodward to help it grow from where it had originally started.
“The original idea was that you would walk around a corner in the CSU and see someone playing an instrument or singing,” shared Koupal. “We took that and refined it to more consistent performances focused on Minnesota musicians.”
Many of the musicians for the Serendipity series are sourced from connections that Koupal has made throughout the years. He met “Smokin” Joe Scarpellino at Southeast Minnesota’s Galactic Get Down music festival, who is a booking agent for a multitude of Minnesota based artists, and through him has been able to book many performances.
Many of the artists featured this semester are black or female, as the program is highlighting Black History Month this month and Women’s History Month in March.
“We’ve had artists cover topics like gay marriage, race, and crossing social boundaries. On the 23, we have Minneapolis-based artist Sesay coming in. He does some really interesting stuff mixing percussion and guitar,” shared Koupal. “We really try to find those different groups that give students exposure to a variety of different music. We’ve really been lucky to have some of the performers that we’ve had.”
Koupal is proud of where the Serendipity Music Series has grown over the years and how it’s connected people.
“I think that everyone gets so locked into their own music, but what makes you think to expand your horizons? That’s really what we try to do with a series. We give exposure to a lot of different music,” shared Koupal.
“We want students to come in and feel, ‘Wow this is different, I have to go and see what this is.’ They come over to the railing in the Hearth Lounge to see who’s playing, and I love that we’ve piqued their curiosity.”
The Serendipity music series occurs approximately every other Wednesday from 11 a.m -1 pm. The next performance is next Wednesday, February 23 in the CSU Hearth Lounge.
Write to Syd Berggren at email@example.com