Experiencing EU’s Fine Arts

Despite the dreary weather on Oct. 9, the stage was bright at the 2015 Fine Arts Festival as it flooded with artists. The Fine Arts Festival is the only occasion of the school year in which Eastern students can hear magnificent instrumental solos, see elegant dances, and witness stunning theatrical performances all in one program. The music was full of color; every performance was so human and ripe with the spirit of life. From one soloist at a piano to a whole troupe of female dancers, each performer brought her own piece to this fantastic smorgasbord of flavor and fun.

The first performance of the night was a dance recital choreographed by Janet Pilla Marini. Each of the dancers put their best foot forward (and occasionally backward). The dance itself was choreographed to make it seem at certain moments that the dancers had no control of their own actions. The shocked look on their faces added greatly to this illusion and made the dance that much more memorable. Their dance to John Strauss Jr.’s “Morgenblatter” was rich with beauty, energy, and humor.

Two charismatic piano solos followed: Erikson Rojas, a member of the piano faculty, played Ernesto Lecuona’s “Malaguena,” and Greg Silverman, Eastern’s new vocal director, sang and played Jule Styne’s “Just in Time.”

The last performance of the first act was a preview of Eastern’s new original musical, “Rise.” Rachel Sparks and Alex Younger sang the duet “A Place That Knows You,” with music by Dennis Atkinson and lyrics by Rebecca Coppola. The song features Younger’s character, Camden, singing about how California can be Rise’s home. This love song to a landscape was the first glimpse many audience members received of this new musical, enticing them to come back and see the rest of the show.

The second act began with a somber dance performed and choreographed by Rachel Travis, to the song “Good Bye” by Alexandre Desplat. According to the Fine Arts Festival program, “Good Bye” was selected…at the 2015 ACDA (American College Dance Association) Festival for inclusion in the festival gala performance.”

The next performance was a solo of “Mon couer s’ouvre a ta voix”, sung by Alanna Piper with Hyeoun Eunice Jeon on piano. Alanna’s voice filled the entire auditorium and brought a smile to everyone’s face.

Next came a guitar solo of “Carnavalito,” played by Jeremy Harting. His fast fingers and precise plucking moved the audience.

This was followed by a piano solo played by 2013 alumnus Chris Kehoe.

The last performance of the night was the Eastern University Choir singing a selection of three songs. The first was “Give Me Jesus,” a spiritual arranged by Larry L. Fleming, and the second was “Daniel, Daniel Servant of the Lord,” arranged by Undine S. Moore. Per tradition, the last number of the Fine Arts Festival was a very loud and proud “Hallelujah Chorus,” sung by the whole choir with invited alumni from the audience.

Though the Fine Arts Festival may be over, it brings with it the hope and expectation of future performances. These performances were previews of a bigger picture, mere glimpses of what awaits Eastern’s Fine Arts department in the days to come.

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