When it comes to The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance’s annual Collage Concert, not a seat in the house is left empty. Every year 3,500 people saunter into Hill Auditorium to soak up the brilliance of this concert’s mosaicism. Highlighting and combining the University’s large ensembles with the top student-comprised groups, the Collage Concert’s inclusion of all aspects of SMTD makes for a riveting, diverse performance.
Through a very selective application and audition process, eight student ensembles were chosen to showcase short performances that will be integrated into the program, alongside the University Symphony Orchestra, the University Choir, Jazz Ensemble and University Symphony Band. With hardly a minute between each different performance, the exhilarating continuity keeps the audience on their feet, while spotlights illuminate different areas of the auditorium back to back, cueing the next piece to immediately begin after the antecedent.
“It goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. It’s a great ride — you’ll go from a mass orchestra piece, to a folk duet, to a dance piece,” said Janet Lyu, a violinist in the final year of her specialist degree in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. “It’s a night of a lot of stimulation.”
In addition to performing in Collage with the University Symphony Orchestra, Lyu is one of five student liaisons for the school. When applying for the job, Lyu specifically had Collage in mind as something she particularly wanted to be a part of.
“It’s really special to me,” Lyu said, regarding why Collage is one of her favorite concerts of the year. “It proves that this school is not your typical conservatory. It’s a great coming together of community. There’s really nothing like it — a lot of schools copy the model that we have. It brings me a lot of pride to be a part of.”
Lyu, who will be performing in Collage for her sixth time, is excited for the audience to feast on the wide variety of performances.
“It’s a wild showcase,” Lyu said. “It’s one of the only times in the year where the entirety of SMTD gets together on a complete level. All different genres and all different aspects of the school get a chance to showcase themselves — not just to the audience, but to each other.”
Every year, all the numbers are unique. There’s quite an assortment, including incorporation of different instrumentation, electronic music and theatre skits; the Collage Concert aims to challenge the norm of typical University performances.
“They’re constantly trying to make it exciting,” Lyu said.
This year, the Collage Concert will spend part of the evening paying tribute to the man who originally brought the idea of Collage to the University, Gustav Meier. Meier, who passed away in May 2016, was the professor emeritus of conducting at SMTD for 19 years.
Additionally, because 2017 is the University’s Bicentennial, performances will showcase a few pieces that were written the year the University was founded to celebrate its inception.
“I think that Collage is a great array of different pieces and a great focal point of pushing the boundaries of our art. It’s a beautiful way of tasting everything SMTD has to offer in a compact and fun way,” Lyu. “There are so many different people on stage, yet at the same time, we’re all representing the same family.”