REVIEW: Collage Concert

Passport to the Arts is often an excuse for me to see a show that I would otherwise eschew: when I saw a chance for a free ticket on the first floor of Hill Auditorium for the collage concert, there was no excuse not to go.

Despite the bitter winds that hovered just above 0 and the basketball game on at the same time, I stumbled through the snow and into my first collage concert by the School of Music, Theater, and Dance.

Collage is the perfect word for what I witnessed over the course of two and a half hours. The concert took on a kind of pattern, where a piece performed by the symphony was followed by dance, then a soloist, then the choir. Initially, the transition from the symphony’s “cheating, lying, stealing” to a theater number (“Fiddlestix”) was jarring—a lush, harmony of strings and horns and percussion contrasted sharply by a small band flanking a group of tap dancers. Absolutely fantastic.

While I entered Hill Auditorium expecting a slower-paced concert—where the band would play several songs, then the dancers would take over for a few numbers—the changes were quick and unexpected. In this modern age with short attention spans, it was the perfect remedy to longer, more ponderous events. If your mind wanders, or even if you want to check the program to know who is performing, you will surely miss something important.

Conductors cycled through like commuters through a revolving door. A vast array of soloists broke up the group performances with extraordinary prowess. In fact, the best part of the night was Christopher Sies’ “Rebounds B.” A percussion piece, Sies began slowly, shifting between drums and xylophones with a simple rhythm. The rhythm moved faster and faster until he was moving at hundreds of beats per minute and the audience was on the edge of its seat, praying he wouldn’t make a mistake. Like everyone else, Sies never made a mistake, and when he came to the stage at the end of the show, his applause was the loudest.

At the intermission, one of the conductors announced Mary Sue Coleman’s attendance. As she stood and waved to the crowd of hundreds, he remarked that it would be her last collage concert as president. In tribute, the orchestra played “Rhapsody in Maize and Blue,” a combination of “Hail to the Victors” and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” While I’m not usually a fan of subverting art for the purposes of gratuitous school spirit, it was a touching tribute to our president.

Not only were the performances diverse and performed brilliantly, but they were complemented by the lighting and tremendous amount of background work that this event must have required. Both halves began in the dark; when light filled the stage, the band began the half. Lights directed the audience to each side of the stage for dancing or solo or theater pieces. Background music played over the speakers complemented several of the soloists beautifully.

The biggest disappointment about the Collage Concert is that it was a one-time opportunity. Hundreds of students performing and coordinating in one night is the kind of thing that makes me proud to be at U of M.
Collage Concert

Phillip Wachowiak

I am a graduate student studying physiology. In addition to science, I love to do things with cameras

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