Every spring, students in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SOMTD) are recognized for accomplishments in both the academic side of the arts as well as the performance side in a gala-style event entitled “Evening of Excellence.” A number of awards are given out for academics, dance history, music history, music theory and many other subjects in the SOMTD, along with a few named scholarships.
The performances of the Solo Competition winners will be included in the event, as well. This year, winners include Jamie Valentine (musical theatre voice), Hannah Knop (classical voice), Daniel Eisenhofer (instrumental/euphonium) and Casper Miller (instrumental/guitar).
While performance is a significant aspect for students, the dean of the SOMTD, Dr. Jeffrey Wright, explained that that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We often think of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance as only what happens on the stage in that performance venue,” Wright said. “But there’s so much more that feeds the performance that we don’t see on a day-to-day basis and those are the academic classes.”
Wright explained that students are challenged to look at the connection between what they do in the academic world and what they do in the performing world, because “you can’t really perform a piece well unless you understand theoretically how it’s put together and historically how it was originally performed.”
Evening of Excellence is typically held in person, but will be virtual this year just like it was last year. Wright spoke on the pros and cons of the virtual format.
“The performances will be with piano this year rather than with orchestra, but what that allowed us to do was to have the accompanist and the soloist on the stage together performing together, and it’s just so much more interesting, I think,” said Wright. “It’s forced us to master, or at least wrestle, some of the technology that we might have avoided otherwise. It has forced us to figure out how to do some things that we haven’t done before…if any student is giving their senior recital and they have family in California who can’t come, at least they can watch.”
Despite the positives to the virtual format, Wright is looking forward to when Evening of Excellence and all performances can be in person again.
“The performing arts really thrive on live performance: the interaction of musicians on the stage, and then the performers interacting with the audience─all of that just feeds off of each other…there’s an energy that comes out of that that you can’t duplicate in a virtual performance.”
Evening of Excellence will be available to watch on YouTube on Sunday, April 25, at 7:30 pm.