Written by: Rachel Ake
Witnessing a truly spectacular musical performance is a rare occasion; witnessing it at your very own college is a gift. The audience that attended Collage 2012! on Thursday evening at E.J. Thomas Hall was lucky enough to escape the gloom of the weather and be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Out of the 19 drastically varied performances, not one fell short of incredible. The show included brass choirs, piano, steel drums, clarinet quartets, percussion ensembles and more. Each group of musicians took advantage of their time to shine and brought different strengths to the table.
An audience favorite seemed to be the steel drum band. They performed “My Dulahin” by Preacher, and everyone could see how much fun they were having. Most of the musicians were swaying back and forth, bobbing their heads to the beat and even throwing out the occasional “whoop” to spice things up. The audience followed suit, dancing in their seats and clapping along to the music. It created a personal connection between the listeners and musicians.
The musicians had a lot to live up to. The audience had been anxiously awaiting this event; people had started arriving an hour early, just to get seats. By the beginning of the performance, the theater was nearly filled to capacity.
“I’m just glad I found a seat,” said Ryan Collins, a University of Akron student. “It was a wonderful performance. I would have hated to miss it because of my tardiness.”
Collins wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the show.
Martha Grangey, a lifelong attendee of E.J. Thomas events, said, “It was one of the best musical shows I’ve ever seen performed here — and trust me, I would know.”
It was easy to tell that she had been moved by the music. She was humming all the way out the door.
The coordinators did a wonderful job of keeping the performance lively. They took an interesting spin on the set list, making it almost one continuous song by separating the different sections with nothing but a slight pause and a spotlight. It forced you to pay attention when the song changed, which kept everyone on their toes.
The coordinators also made use of the entire theater during the show. They made a daring move by putting some of the performances directly in the audience. You’d be watching the stage, and all of a sudden it would go dark and music would be playing from behind you. Most audience members couldn’t see the musicians, so they just closed their eyes and lost themselves in the melodies.
Another crowd favorite was the percussion ensemble, which featured three students playing with nothing but their hands and wooden blocks. It was modern and innovative, making it an instant attraction. They used different hand motions and positions to create a unique brand of music.
Even though each of the sections featured different instruments and musicians, they all had one thing in common: skill. The music created by these performers was almost unbelievable.
“During the chamber choir’s song, I literally got goosebumps,” said Chrystie Hardwick, another UA student. “They did such a good job harmonizing, and I seriously didn’t think that was possible. I’m really glad I got to witness that.”
One really special moment occurred during the finale. The performers in the audience were incorporated into the moment, but the onstage performers were still playing. It created an atmosphere of nothing but music that resonated throughout the entire theater. Almost every instrument was playing, with all of the performers either onstage or in the audience. The conductor was facing the audience while conducting. Getting to see what the musicians always see was moving. It put you right in the middle of the performance. Literally.
Regardless of the instrument, musician or song, Collage 2012! was a success. The skill and dedication demonstrated by each of the performers was simply outstanding. It was a pleasure getting to see these young stars display their passion. If you couldn’t attend this one, make sure not to miss Collage 2013! You won’t regret it.