At some point in their academic lives, almost all students at the University have made a collage with magazine clippings and various other art supplies. On Saturday, Jan. 16, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance will present another type of collage that the student body may not find as familiar: a musical collage. The 33rd annual Collage Concert will be held in the Hill Auditorium at 8 p.m.

33rd Annual Collage Concert

Saturday at 8 p.m.
Hill Auditorium
$9 w/student ID

The concert is described by artistic coordinator Dr. Julie Skadsem, associate professor of Music Education and Choral Conducting in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, as “a meshing of different musical pieces.”

“In the concert you’ll hear a wide variety of music from classical to contemporary,” said Skadsem. “There’s some world music, folk music, and the concert will flow from piece to piece seamlessly so that the end of one piece runs into the beginning of the next.”

The Collage Concert first found its place here when the University hosted the State Music Educators Conference in Ann Arbor, which traditionally featured this kind of concert. When the conference moved to Grand Rapids a few years ago, the tradition of the Collage Concert stayed at the University.

The concert is composed of two 35- to 40-minute sections, during which applause is held, and swift shifts between different moods and genres create an eclectic collage effect. Each of the musical pieces is between two and four minutes long, and among the performers are the primary ensembles of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, along with 15 other students and groups who were selected to perform their original works.

The ensemble conductors and selected groups collaborated to form a diverse and kaleidoscopic program. The wide variety of performance material and participating groups should make the concert appealing to an audience with diverse tastes and expose the participants to new kinds of performance.

Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Tara Sheena described watching the concert as “a whirlwind experience and definitely unlike any other show on campus.”

“My favorite aspect of The Collage Concert is being able to see all of the small groups from all of the disciplines of the School of Music, Theater and Dance,” said Frederick McGirr, a Music, Theatre & Dance senior who will be playing in his fourth collage concert this year. “We get to see groups play that we don’t get to see on a daily basis.”

For example, McGirr will be playing the repenique, a Brazilian drum, for Saturday’s performance.

“It’s very well attended,” Skadsem said. “It’s a very popular concert, I think because it has such great variety. It showcases the entire school of music.”

Because of its broad scope and continually flowing nature, rehearsing the concert presents a unique set of challenges. This includes accommodating students who perform in more than one piece, addressing songs that need special amplification or instrumentation and organizing stage lighting.

Some of the dance pieces are performed to recorded music, keeping the tech workers on their toes as the concert moves rapidly between recordings and live music. There will also be some shortened plays, including Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” which will be confined to small sections of the stage, creating yet more technical challenges.

Last week Skadsem met with the lighting and sound crews, which have the difficult task of maintaining seamless transitions from piece to piece.

“We tend to have the performances flow from side to side and across the stage and sometimes from within the audience, so the lighting intricacies are pretty complicated,” Skadsem explained.

Of course, the performers must also be aware of their surroundings in order to achieve a seamless transition from piece to piece. Though each group rehearses its own pieces individually, they do not get to practice their transitions until a dress rehearsal the day before the concert.

“To practice this, each group must know exactly where the group before them ends so they can be ready right when they need to begin,” McGirr said.

“Rehearsing Collage is almost like getting ready for a huge audition, because the pieces are played with no breaks between them. You have to do a lot of mental preparation before even singing or playing the first note to get focused and calm,” said School of Music, Theatre & Dance senior and vocal soloist Mary Martin.

Despite the challenges, all those involved in the concert will be more than ready on Saturday night after about two months of rehearsal.

“It’s always kind of a surprise how it turns out, because after you resolve all the logistical and personnel issues related to who’s performing, you end up with an order, and to see how the transitions flow is always a really exciting time,” said Skadsem.

Skadsem compared completing the concert to placing the last piece in a collage and finally seeing how everything ties together. The performers clearly share this passion and are incredibly proud of what they’re creating.

“I have participated in the concert every year and can say that they are among the most unique and exciting concerts I have been a part of,” said School of Music, Theatre & Dance junior and string instrumentalist Madeline Huberth.

“The amount of diversity and talent in this concert makes me very proud to be a Michigan student.”

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