Though it may seem the only place to find both a uilleann pipe-playing rock band and a musical number by the cast of UMS’s “The Pajama Game” in the same room would be an airport lobby (or maybe the Diag), the Music School has prepared a single show featuring these and 20 other diverse groups.

Mike Hulsebus
Gustav Meier, a former Music School orchestra director, will be a guest conductor on Saturday (Courtesy of The Bridgeport Symphony)

More than 300 students, headed by Music School Prof. Paul Rardin, offer the University community what he calls a “one-hour musical postcard from the School of Music, Theater and Dance.” In its yearly performance, the Collage Concert, which will play Saturday at Hill Auditorium, incorporates all the disciplines of the Music School into a melodious collection.

The Collage Concert was founded in 1976 by then-Music School orchestra director Gustav Meier. It’s a musical collaboration of every creative element Music School students could offer, stringing performers back-to-back in an exhausting two-act production. While one group is still moving off the stage, a different part of it lights up, allowing the show to swivel right from the Symphony Band’s last note to a solo pianist’s opening chord.

“This is short-attention span theater for those who love music,” Rardin said. “If you don’t like something, in three minutes something else will be coming very quickly.”

A panel of judges builds the annual Collage Concert package, starting with the usual larger ensembles – Symphony Band, Chamber Choir, University Choir, Jazz Ensemble From there, everything else is up to students’ imagination.

Students sent in recordings of their best work, from four cellos playing a Britney Spears song to a Bach solo piano piece, hoping to earn a coveted spot in the show. Starting just last year, theater and dance groups were also welcomed into the Collage family.

“They enhance what we’ve already been doing,” Rardin said. “We are all about variety and diversity in this show.”

According to Rardin, the show features contrasts of big and small, serious and fun and Western and non-Western music and groups.

“It absolutely doesn’t compare to any other show. That’s like comparing apples to Beethoven,” Rardin said. “There’s no applause in between numbers and we connect piece to piece with lighting.”

The concert’s founding father, Gustav Meier, will be guest conducting the orchestra.

“We would like to honor him and his idea,” Rardin said. “We’re allowing applause when he comes on.”

Since its beginning 30 years ago, the Collage Concert hasn’t changed its format. According to Rardin, the idea is to “stick with the formula and change the music.”

“To think about the abilities of the students next to you in the hall, that’s amazing,” Rardin said. “This concert really helps you to embrace the diverse interests and talents of the school.”


Saturday at 8 p.m.

At Hill Auditorium

$15- $25, $9 with student ID

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