It’s hard to fully grasp just how many different events are happening on North Campus at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. It would be nearly impossible for someone to catch the 450+ performances the school puts on each semester. It can be a daunting task for someone wanting to experience the talent and artistry this University has to offer.
Collage hopes to help with that.
By giving each department a little time to shine, SMTD’s annual Collage Concert provides audiences with a little sample of all the magic going on within the school.
The Collage Concert at the University is based off of the “Prism Concert,” a tradition started at the Eastman School of Music that quickly spread to music and performing arts schools all across the country. Even some high schools have taken up the challenge. The idea is to surround the audience in a ‘prism’ of sound. Acts perform back to back, with no time in between for applause, on different corners and sides of the stage. My eyes darted from side to side, watching Shakespeare turn to bluegrass, beatboxing to baroque and Hayden to Hodges.
The performances were powerful. The first and second halves were unique in their own respects. While neither had a distinct theme, aside from the fact that the first half featured the University’s Symphony Band and the second half featured the Symphony Orchestra, they both felt different. After the Symphony Band left audiences in awe with their performance of the fourth movement of David Maslanka’s “Symphony no. 4,” I wasn’t sure how the second half could follow such a showstopper. But when the lights went low for the second time, I was swept away by the back to back performances that were happening all around me.
My favorite set of performances came in the second half, with the piece “Through Our Eyes” and the third movement of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. “Through Our Eyes” featured students of colors in a collaborative dance and vocal piece, detailing the issues they face at the University. Vocalists Zion Jackson and Jaime Sharp performed sections of spoken word as well as a unison melody that accompanied both the dancers and themselves. In addition to these sections of spoken word, testimonies from students of color at the University rang throughout the auditorium. These vocals worked in conjunction with a group of students from the dance department, putting together a powerful performance that shook the audience to its core.
Whoever planned Collage must have had it out for me, because after already feeling these overwhelming emotions from “Through Our Eyes,” the sheer beauty of Rachmaninoff’s “Adagio” from his second symphony really did me in. I could feel the tears coming as soon as the opening melody was played.
However, there were more than just tears shed at Collage. Whether it was when members of the theatre department performed a selection from “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” or when members of the music school reimagined Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter” with smartphone clicks and dings, the audience reacted with laughs, giggles and everything in between.
Logistically, I was pretty amazed by how well this performance came together. Getting hundreds of performers in the right place at the right time can be a difficult task — not to mention the sound and lighting difficulties that come with it. I was surprised at how fast acts were able to transition into each other, and besides a few lighting mistakes, everything looked and sounded clean. In a massive space like Hill Auditorium, acoustics are everything. And although some sounds required amplification, it was hard to tell when sounds were being projected over the PA because of how natural it all resonated.
It’s always inspiring to see my peers share their passions through their performances. With so many artistic accomplishments being made everyday within SMTD, the annual Collage Concert does an amazing job at sharing a bit of these special performances.