Conservatory comes together for Kaleidoscope Concert

Alex Schaaf

Saturday, Oct. 21, the students of Lawrence and the community of Appleton will have the rare opportunity to enjoy the talents of almost every music student in the Conservatory at the Kaleidoscope Concert.
This musical extravaganza will be held at 8 p.m. at the Appleton Performing Arts Center. The concert will feature 16 different student ensembles in a condensed, 75-minute show with no intermission.
The ensembles will use the main stage, the orchestra pit, eight side balconies, the main floor and the grand balcony to perform the concert in one single set. Each ensemble will perform one song, and the final song will include all the ensembles.
Fred Sturm, Kimberly-Clark Professor of Jazz and Improvisational Music, is the brains behind this massive operation.
Describing the different effects of this concert, Sturm said, “We hope to appeal to new audience constituencies – folks that may have never attended a Lawrence performance.”
He also described the opportunity as positive for those here at Lawrence. “We see Kaleidoscope as a wonderful opportunity for those of us in the Conservatory to hear what all of our musical peers are doing,” said Sturm.
Sturm got the idea for the Kaleidoscope Concert from his musical mentor in New York, Rayburn Wright. Lawrence put on a similar program about 10 years ago on a much smaller scale, but this is the first time something of this size has been organized.
Rick Bjella, director of the Concert Choir and Viking Chorale, enthusiastically endorsed the idea.
“The talent of the Lawrence Conservatory is so broad, with just a wide-sweeping array of different things that are happening on a daily basis,” said Bjella.
“Once we agreed on the scope of the program and agreed upon a date, it took us about six months to coordinate the full range of forces engaged in the project,” said Sturm, speaking of how difficult it was to coordinate the project.
“The ensemble directors have been working together to work out all of the logistical issues, which were considerable,” remarked Bjella. “The teachers have also been doing amazing things to help prepare students for this event.”
Phillip Swan, director of the Women’s Choir, also praised the event. “The exciting thing about the concert is that it’s the first time that the Conservatory has featured all of the major ensembles in one concert setting.”
“It’s going to be great for the audience because they get to see kind of a snapshot of what is happening with Lawrence ensembles in one evening, and hopefully it will generate some interest in the community,” Swan said.
“It will also be good for the students to see each other in their settings. Because of the busy schedules, a lot of times students don’t get an opportunity to see each other perform.”
Children from the Lawrence Academy of Music will also appear in the concert. President Jill Beck will give the opening welcome.
The concert will end with Dean of the Conservatory Robert Thayer conducting the entire Kaleidoscope cast in “Make Our Garden Grow,” the finale from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide.”
The concert promises to be a rare chance to take in the tremendous talent of our Conservatory.