A whopping 300 students within 14 different ensembles from the Conservatory were featured in the fifth annual Kaleidoscope concert at the Fox Cities Performing Art Center on Saturday, Oct. 8. Due to the impressive number of groups performing in the span of an hour and a half, songs were played back-to-back, one per ensemble, without any applause in between.
Before the ensembles passed around their musical baton, Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl took the stage and explained that Kaleidoscope acts as a way to showcase the diversity that Lawrence’s Conservatory possesses. Pertl also dedicated the concert to the deceased Lawrence University Kimberly-Clark Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies and Improvisational Music Fred Sturm, who founded the original Kaleidoscope concert in 2006. Since its debut, the Conservatory has featured a Kaleidoscope concert about every other year.
The first ensemble to perform in the recent concert was Gamelan Cahaya Asri, playing “Kebyar Duduki” on the main stage. Immediately after they finished performing, the curtain behind them moved upwards, exposing Lawrence University’s Wind Ensemble. The ensemble transitioned quickly into their performance of “Circuits” by Cindy McTee, a song named after its use of circuitous structures such as ostinatos and recurring short sections.
While students are familiar with the many large ensembles that perform in the chapel regularly, it was refreshing to see that many studio ensembles took the stage as well. The studios that performed were Lawrence’s Own Viola Ensemble (LOVE), Lawrence University’s Clarinet Ensemble, Viking Bassoon Ensemble (ViBE) and Lawrence’s Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble.
The inclusion of these studio groups in an event as large as Kaleidoscope provided them with a much deserved spotlight. Kaleidoscope gave them the opportunity to share their music with a much larger audience than a small studio ensemble performance typically attracts. The variety of music selections made between the studios was able to appeal to both local Appleton residents that may be less familiar with the Conservatory and to music majors alike. For instance, LOVE performed the familiar “Mr. Sandman,” while Lawrence University’s Clarinet Ensemble performed Movement III from “New York Counterpoint,” a minimalist composition by Steve Reich.
Lawrence University’s Concert Choir performed “Sakkjarven Polkka,” which included a large amount of movement and choreography while showcasing soloists. Fifth year Morgen Moraine (soprano), senior Demetra Hellwig (soprano) and senior Sarah Coffman (soprano) competed—both musically and by physically pushing each other—while singing their solos. Freshman John Perkins (bass) was also featured in a solo where Hellwig clears her throat, prepared to show-up the other vocalists but surprises the audience while she mouths the words that Perkins sings in his lower register. The performance was hilarious to watch, and despite the request to save applause until the end, there were a few accidental claps heard afterwards from the audience.
Other groups that performed during the concert were Lawrence University’s Wind Octet, Quartet Masque, Cantala (Lawrence Unversity’s Women’s Choir), Lawrence University’s Symphony Orchestra, Slipstream, Lawrence University Opera (featuring Cantala, LU’s Symphony Orchestra and soloists senior Elena Stabile, sophomores Clio Briggs and Ann Marie Carden) and Lawrence University’s Jazz Ensemble.
The final song performed, “We Are the Music Makers,” was put together with the help of Garth Neustadter, an Emmy Award-winning composer and 2010 Lawrence alumni. His composition was based off of the poem, “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaunessy. All of the musicians that previously played within their ensemble groups gathered both onstage and in the pit area to collectively perform the piece. Hearing all of the ensembles collectively was impressive both on the part of Neustadter’s ingenuity to create a composition including so many musicians and on behalf of the students’ ability to stay together after only having a few days to practice collectively. The performance encapsulated the collaborative potential of musicians from different backgrounds to come together as a group.
Overall, Kaleidoscope was successful in showcasing just how much variety the Conservatory has to offer. The performance also demonstrated how involved students within the Conservatory are, as many students appeared in more than one ensemble and were required to make impressive changes in attire, location or instrument in-between songs. If you were unable to make it to the performance last weekend, be sure to check out the next one. If Fred Sturm could see the result of the project that he started about 10 years ago, he would certainly be proud.