Displaying items by tag: Faculty

For David Park, School of Music Adjunct Professor, 2020 will be a landmark year for violin performance.

“2020 marks the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven, and the 75th Anniversary of United Nations (UN). To pay tribute, I will perform an all-Beethoven program at a landmark UN Ballroom in London where the inaugural General Assembly reception took place hosted by King George VI and Prime Minister Attlee. This is very fitting since music of Beethoven represents freedom and solidarity. For my London debut, a world-renowned violin foundation will loan me one of the rarest 18th century Stradivarius violins in the world,” Park explained.

Continuing the theme of Beethoven’s anniversary, later in the year Park will make his Long Island debut with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Then, in the Spring, he will travel to LA to play the all-time favorite, Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," with which he made his NY debut at Carnegie Hall.

Also, February marks the release of his first recording with Centaur Records, one of the oldest and largest classical labels. “This will be quite special, because I will be recording the music of Kreisler, one of my heroes. In the music industry, it is very difficult to record mainstream repertoire unless one is a household name, so I’m very grateful they are taking a chance with me. I’m also excited to collaborate with two splendid pianists, Alex Marshall and Melissa Garff Ballard. Alex is the music director of U Theater and Melissa is a noted arts patron and serves on the Utah House of Representatives.” Park said.

To top it all off, Park has recently risen to #40 in Ranker’s list of “The World’s Greatest Violinists,”  and has been selected as the first Cultural Ambassador of Ferrari.

He is looking forward to sharing all of his exciting upcoming engagements and successes with our campus community. “I hope I can do justice to these masterworks and that some of you can join me in this journey of discovering the seat of my soul,” he said.

Published in Finer Points Blog

What obstacles get in the way of racial equity in academic settings?
• How do we honor dance forms in our curriculum that are not represented within the identities of faculty?
• How do we dismantle the hierarchies embedded in the teaching of histories and theories of dance?
• What does it look/feel like to have racial equity in dance?
• What does the future look like? What steps can we take? 

This week, the U School of Dance will gather with our community of artists and educators, as well as speakers Gerald Casel, Rebecca Chaleff, Kimani Fowlin, and Tria Blu Wakpa for “Dancing Around Race,” a four-day immersion in these questions (among others!) and the accompanying practices that challenge and uproot the systemic exclusions whiteness has formed. 

Assistant professor Kate Mattingly started to plan the project after attending the National Dance Education Conference where she presented her paper, “Connecting Dance Histories, Theories, and Criticism.” At the conference, Gerald Casel was also presenting his work, “Dancing Around Race – Interrogating Whiteness in Dance,” in which he brought together curators, critics, artists, and donors in the Bay Area to discuss race and colorblind racial ideology, issues and problems around diversity, and resilience and sustainability.

“Both of our presentations bypassed a typical pedagogical approach of looking at individual dancers who ‘overcome’ barriers, and focused on the systemic exclusions that prevent artists, students, and faculty from gaining access to opportunities,” Mattingly described.

Teaming up with colleague Kimani Fowlin, who was also at the conference, the three began to shape a program bringing these vital dialogues back to the University of Utah. They wanted to make a dedicated space to “address and challenge systemic exclusions in curricular design, teaching practices, and course contents.”

Tria Blu Wakpa and Rebecca Chaleff, who had both been panelists with Mattingly at a recent Dance Studies Association conference in Malta, were also clear choices for such a panel. In Malta, Blu Wakpa, Chaleff and Mattingly had focused their discussion on whiteness, settler colonialism, and injustices of recognition.

Along with Maile Arvin and Erika George, two scholars invested in research and teaching that calls attention to systemic exclusions and healing practices, Mattingly clarified key intentions for the program at the U, specifically in connecting students and faculty.

Among these goals, of which there are understandably many, the organizers hope to start building long-term and sustainable practices that redistribute unequal power dynamics, work to dismantle barriers in access in both course materials and curricula, foreground the importance of decolonizing methodologies, and positively engage students and faculty in practices of healing and self-care.

Increasing equity and access is already an active focus within the School of Dance, as evidenced by ongoing faculty- and student-led efforts. “Since I arrived at the University of Utah in July of 2017, I have admired the investment and insights of students in the ballet program who are addressing and challenging systemic exclusions,” Mattingly said. 

For example, the Dance Studies Working Group, formed in January of 2018, traveled to San Francisco for talks and performances at the Unbound Festival and Boundless Symposium. (Read about their experience here!) Victoria Holmes, the founder of this group, won the CFA 2019 College of Fine Arts Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award. Her thesis called attention to barriers and challenges faced by dancers of color, historically and currently.

“Dancing Around Race” is an opportunity to identify other ways to take positive action. “One of the ongoing challenges of this work is that people in positions of power are disinclined to change systems that bring them benefits, and what I see in the students at the U is that future generations of leaders are dedicated to asking hard questions and calling attention to oppressive environments,” Mattingly said. 

“Dancing Around Race: Whiteness in Higher Education” Public Events:

January 16 Panel Discussion
With guests Gerald Casel, Rebecca Chaleff, Tria Blu Wakpa, and Kimani Fowlin moderated by Kate Mattingly
12:25 - 1:45pm in the Marriott Center for Dance Theater

January 17 Panel Discussion “Decolonizing Methodologies”
With Guests Maile Arvin, Tria Blu Wakpa, and Charles Sepulveda
2 - 3:20pm in Gardner Commons 5490

This project has been supported by a Dee Grant from the University of Utah.

Published in Finer Points Blog

MAGNIFYING is a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff to help you learn more about the remarkable individuals within our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts. 

Molly Heller is an assistant professor in the School of Dance and the director of Heartland, a Salt Lake City collective combining dance, visual art, and music composition/performance. She is also an alumni, earning her MFA in the School of Dance. Her research investigates performance as a healing practice and the relationship between physical expression and emotion. This coming Saturday, Heartland will present “Cosmos {{ Performance + Dance Party }}” at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.

Molly’s choreographic work is an extension of her interest in health and wellbeing, as well as an interweaving of theater practices and dance. Her work has been presented nationwide in venues such as: Urban Lounge (SLC), Beehive Concert Venue (SLC), Shawl Anderson Dance Center (Berkeley), Eccles Regent Street Blackbox Theater (SLC), Kingsbury Hall for TEDx SaltLakeCity, Gowanus Art + Production (NYC), Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church (NYC), Movement Research at the Judson Church (NYC), Green Space (NYC), DUMBO Dance Festival (Brooklyn, NY), The Mahaney Center for the Arts (Middlebury, VT), Balance Dance Company (Boise, ID), Boise State University, Westminster College (SLC), Sugar Space Studio for the Arts (SLC), and the Ladies’ Literary Club (SLC).  molly4Molly Heller and Marissa Mooney mid dance-party | Photo Tori Duhaime

Your work for Heartland Collective is truly multidisciplinary. Why are you inspired to work with artists from different mediums? 

Heartland was born from the desire to invest in this group of people that reciprocally believe in commitment, a love-centered approach to art making, and intense focus. The relationships fostered within Heartland have been primary, and the multidisciplinary nature of the collective is a result of opening up space for our artistic interests to manifest. As the director, my role is to listen to the desires of each individual and to support their evolution. By supporting and nurturing the individual, the collective also expands (and the direction of our work continues to reveal itself along the way). 

What is your most recent fascination or surprising discovery?  

I am fascinated by the things that stretch me the most in life. My most recent fascination revolves around closure - how I crave and desire for events in my life to have punctuated endings (I imagine I'm not alone in this). The vulnerability within letting go and in allowing closure to be non-linear and self actualized is what we're exposing within "Cosmos." I am discovering on a personal level that healing/release can happen with strangers and if we can't choose our endings in life, we can practice curating beginnings.

Do you have any habitual practices or rituals that ground your movement and choreography practice? How do you set up your process for success?  

I am deeply invested in improvisational practices that both locate me and present impossibilities. The trying, doing, and showing up for the work becomes the focus, rather than prioritizing physical outcomes/movement invention. Before beginning rehearsals, I offer structured practices for the collective to investigate that influence the direction of the choreography. These movement rituals are designed to activate one's whole self within the whole space. They intentionally challenge sight, balance, facial expressivity, and the antennas of the body (hands/feet). We have been naming these practices, FINDING. 

What is one unexpected place you wish dance would occur?  

I am interested in roaming performances - where the location and perimeters move and change throughout a period of time (and inevitably where performers have to adapt). Heartland has been experimenting with roaming/pop-up performances over the last year. Our last performance of this nature, traveled north to south on Main St. (beginning at the AT&T parking lot and finished at Tinwell). The idea of a moving performance is not necessarily unexpected, but what occurs within this approach will always be unexpected and unpredictable. It also allows us to work in public spaces where people find our work who might not typically engage with dance. There is an inverse relationality to this type of engagement - instead of waiting for an audience to join us, we are going to them. What presents itself in those moments feels magical, it is exactly what it needs to be. And we embrace this. 


SEE HEARTLAND THIS WEEKEND!

Heartland Collective Presents: Cosmos {{Performance + DANCE PARTY}}

When:
The Winter Solstice
Saturday, December 21st, 8-10pm
Time: Doors open at 7:30pm, performance begins at 8pm
Where: Utah Museum of Contemporary ArtCost: $12, Cash or Venmo
Performers: Nick Blaylock, Brian Gerke, Molly Heller, Marissa Mooney, Melissa Younker, PLUS a surprise guest.
Music: Nick Foster and Mike Wall

Published in Finer Points Blog

The holiday season is in full swing and that can only mean one thing: traditions.

Be it cooking up an old family recipe, streaming holiday movies, sledding in the first snow or traveling to see your relatives all in the same room, traditions connect us and punctuate this time of year with lasting memories.

This coming week, The University of Utah School of Music will collaborate with Salt Lake Symphony, bringing to life a most beloved community tradition: "Amahl and The Night Visitors" and "A Christmas Carol" in a double opera bill at the Grand Theatre. For some, these stories are already a timeless memory. For a younger generation, they are one waiting to be discovered.  

“’Amahl and The Night Visitors’ was like Scrooge, or The Grinch, or Rudolph when I was a kid,” Director of Opera, Robert Breault recalled. “The family made cookies, sat down with popcorn, and watched it every year.” Gian Carlo Menotti was first commissioned in 1951 for an opera specifically composed for television, complete with full orchestral accompaniment. Recounting the story of the Three Kings traveling to Bethlehem through the eyes of Amahl, a young disabled boy, Menotti's story captures the spirit of generosity and the power of community.  It was broadcast annually until the late sixties.

It was also the first opera Breault ever performed in himself. Pulled into the role of Page while at St. Norbert College, Breault was instantly hooked by this newfound world of opera.  Experiencing “Amahl and the Night Visitors” set him on his professional path that includes performance, master’s and doctoral degrees and now teaching at the University of Utah. amahl4

Naturally, he continues to share this particular opera with emerging singers. In 1994, when the first student production of “Amahl and The Night Visitors” filled Kingsbury Hall, the show’s power was again confirmed. Thousands of local children had attended daytime performances. Then at one public evening performance, Breault overheard a young boy who had coaxed his parents to bring him back again, and was audibly sharing his enthusiasm with them, urging them down closer to the stage. Breault remembered, “Here was a child so excited by what he had seen, he had to share it. That is the power of opera.” 

Then, when doctoral students Anthony Buck and Mike Leavitt, approached Breault four years ago (in 2015) with an idea to take their holiday production to the next level, he was newly inspired.

“They said, ‘instead of performing traditional carols with ‘Amahl,’ let’s do ‘A Christmas Carol.’ They handed me a score. They had broken down 'A Christmas Carol' to be the perfect sister piece to 'Amahl' in terms of time, orchestra, and singers. The minute they started playing it, I knew it was a hit.”

This year will mark the 4th production of this double bill, developed and fine-tuned within the School of Music. And one of those students, Mike Leavitt will now direct and conduct “A Christmas Carol,” which he helped create.

“Amahl and The Night Visitors & A Christmas Carol” is truly all in the family. Director of The Grand Theatre Seth Miller is a long-time collaborator with the School of Music for lighting and production design, and the first to suggest the production be presented at the Grand. Assistant Professor Seth Keeton performs alongside his son, Miles, who plays the role of Tiny Tim. Salt Lake Symphony is directed and conducted by Professor Robert Baldwin, who also directs orchestral activities and graduate studies at the U. More than 40 students will perform across the two casts, bringing new life to cherished stories, and offering a live holiday experience for families. Screen Shot 2019 12 02 at 3.17.00 PM

“These are two pieces, written to be accessible, adored, and enjoyed year after year. It’s opera’s gift to our community,” Breault said. 

Don’t miss it!
December 5 – 7 | Thursday – Saturday
Times: 7:30 PM | 2:00 PM Saturday Matinee
Tickets start at $16
Specialized discounts for groups, military/veterans, SLCC students and staff, junior high and high school students, and many more! 
Click here for more info. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

luc headshot School of Dance Director Luc Vanier

On November 21st thru the 23rd, Repertory Dance Theatre presents “Sounds Familiar,” a concert featuring new work by local choreographers using beloved classical music.

Luc Vanier, director of the School of Dance at the University of Utah is one of the selected choreographers. Working with the second movement of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7,” which was composed in 1812, Vanier tells the story of two people in a post-apocalyptic world.

“I can’t possibly make a new work without acknowledging climate in some way,” Vanier said. “So, you have this big, beautiful music and yet this very stern subject of what may happen if we don’t heed the warnings or if we don’t get together to address this crisis in some way. We’re looking at a couple who survived, have a vague memory of a time and are negotiating this moment.”

Vanier’s piece finds dancers Lauren Curley and Dan Higgins in a space with a beat-up old TV, through which Beethoven’s music plays. They are clad in FEMA raincoats. Around them, images are projected – everyday things that have also somehow withstood immense natural destruction.

For Vanier’s collaborator, filmmaker Kym McDaniel, footage of these ordinary objects becomes quite eerie when considering they may outlive humanity. “Kym was in Wyoming when we were discussing the piece,” Vanier said. “Just outside her window were these giant sprinkler units on wheels, passing by. What is the world that has gone on after us? It’s the small things, you know? There is no longer any water, but the sprinklers are still turning on.”

Beethoven’s symphony in the piece reflects this same forgotten feeling. Vanier said, “It is not playing beautifully in the house. In fact, at one point Kym scratched up the sound so much you could almost not hear the melody.”

The movement vocabulary Vanier and the dancers created sprung from real-life images. They began crafting phrases inspired by actions like distinguishing fire, or guiding someone who couldn’t see. The choreography blends the classical and the distorted. Vanier would carefully listen to the symphony, then forget it for a while, piecing the elements together as they developed. It is exactly this kind of reinventing an iconic score that gives Beethoven new life more than 200 years since it’s creation. This evening of 21st century choreography will reinvigorate the work of Bach, Puccini, Haydn, Mozart, Prokofiev, Khachaturian and more.

“Sounds Familiar” features 12 choreographers, including School of Dance Assistant Professor (Lecturer) Sara Pickett, Faculty Emeritus Stephen Koester, Faculty Emeritus Sharee Lane, Assistant Professor Molly Heller and dance alumni Nicholas Cendese, John Mead, Nathan Shaw, and Natosha Washington. Repertory Dance Theatre company members Daniel Do, Elle Johansen, and Ursula Perry are also alumni of the University of Utah School of Dance and will be featured in the concert.

See “Sounds Familiar!”
November 21-23 at 7:30 PM
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Tickets $30, Students $15
Get tickets here.

Published in Finer Points Blog

The Film and Media Arts Department is excited to welcome experimental and documentary filmmaker Emelie Mahdavian, Post Doctoral Fellow and producer-in-residence. Mahdavian’s most recent film, “Midnight Traveler,” has received critical acclaim including a 2019 Gotham Award Nomination for Best Documentary and Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. While at the University of Utah, she is in production on a new documentary feature “Bitterbrush.” 

Mahdavian studied filmmaking at London Film School, music and philosophy at Mills College and New England Conservatory of Music, and has a Ph.D. in Performance Studies with an emphasis in Film Practice as Research from the University of California, Davis.

The reciprocal relationship of research and creative decision making is one she continues to examine closely with University of Utah students in her special topics seminar course this semester, Approaching the Subject of Documentary. “I’m interested in theory informing practice and practice informing theory,” Mahdavian explained.

If students want to become experts at software (Premiere, for example), they can get training online.  What their undergraduate study perhaps offers is a deeper inquiry into what drives their creative choices, from filming to post-production. Particularly in documentary filmmaking, ethics and relationship building are integral to practice and product. Mahdavian is particularly interested in preparing students in these areas.

There is also quite a bit to explore in terms of practical knowledge of film distribution, which is a constantly evolving environment. “You can go away to work on a film for a few months and when you return, the market can be completely different.” Mahdavian said. From live screening to streaming platforms, Mahdavian is helping prepare students for the business of film alongside developing strong artistic practice.

When asked what makes her unique as an editor, the continual influence from multidisciplinary interests is one characteristic she can pinpoint. “ I am a musician and dancer -- that perspective is tied to everything I do,” she said.

Pursuing an ongoing interest in Central Asian dance, Mahdavian was a former principal dancer and Assistant Director for Ballet Afsaneh. Her film “After the Curtain,”  documented the cultural experiences of dancers in Tajikistan. In "Intangible Body,” she used motion capture to explore censorship of Iranian women's dance performance. This experience across artistic mediums makes Mahdavian an invaluable resource not only for the Film and Media Arts Department but also for students studying Screendance.

Mahdavian will continue teaches courses throughout the spring semester.  Join us in welcoming her to campus!   

Published in Finer Points Blog

MAGNIFYING is a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff to help you learn more about the remarkable individuals within our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts. 

Elizabeth T. Craft is an Assistant Professor of Musicology in the School of Music. Before joining the faculty at the University of Utah, Craft completed her Ph.D. at Harvard University and taught at Wellesley College and Northeastern University. Her research crosses disciplinary boundaries to explore how music conveys sociopolitical values and constructs national identity, focusing especially on musical theater from the early twentieth century through the present.

Craft’s recent publications examine the politics and reception of the musical Hamilton (in the journal American Music), the George M. Cohan biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy (in The Oxford Handbook of Musical Theatre Screen Adaptations), and the musicals of Lin-Manuel Miranda (forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to the Contemporary Musical). Her work also appears in The Critical Companion to the American Stage Musical, Crosscurrents: American and European Music in Interaction, 1900–2000, the journal Studies in Musical Theatre, and New York Public Library’s Musical of the Month blog. She is currently writing a book on the Broadway musicals and cultural impact of the composer, playwright, actor, director, and producer George M. Cohan.This past summer, Craft was invited to speak at the “You’re a Grand Old Rag” Paragon Ragtime Orchestra concert and Cohan celebration at La Mirada Theatre in La Mirada, California. She was also interviewed on the Slate podcast Hit Parade with Chris Molanphy. 

When did you first know you wanted to get into the arts? 
When I performed in the chorus of Fiddler on the Roof in my small-town community theater production in middle school—I was hooked! Actually, though, even when I went to college and double-majored in music and sociology, I thought music would be an avocation. Doing a senior honors thesis about depictions of crime in musical theater opened my eyes to the ways in which I might combine my artistic and scholarly interests and make a career of it.   

Have there been any twists and turns in your career that you didn’t expect? 
Certainly. I thought I might go straight into a Ph.D. program from my undergraduate degree, but my undergraduate studies had been interdisciplinary, and getting a master's in musicology allowed me to really learn my field so that I was well prepared when I entered the Ph.D. program at Harvard University. I also never would have guessed I’d be writing a book on George M. Cohan!   

What draws you to George M. Cohan? 
Growing up, I loved the Fourth of July. My town hosted North Carolina’s official Fourth of July festival, a week-long celebration. I grew up hearing Cohan’s songs—like “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy”—but not knowing that they came from musicals. When I started working on my dissertation, on immigrant narratives in musical theater, I learned that Cohan was Irish American. In a period when the Irish occupied society’s bottom rungs and were considered inferior to Anglo-Saxon whites, he became an emblem of American patriotism, known as the “Yankee Doodle Dandy” he sang about in one of his hit songs. It’s a fascinating story.  

What is your favorite memory from the University of Utah? 
There are so many! I love the feeling when a class discussion goes really well and as a result, we all come to a deeper understanding of a complex topic. This happened over the course of the semester when I taught a seminar called “Performing Race on Broadway” as we discussed the thorny subjects of racial representation, casting, and the stereotypes embedded in classic works. I’ve also had amazing opportunities to collaborate with local institutions to bring guests to campus—hearing Jeremy Howard Beck talk about his new opera The Long Walk, about an Iraq veteran’s attempts to readjust to life in the United States, and then seeing the Utah Opera production with my “Opera Literature” class was a stunningly powerful experience.

Published in Finer Points Blog

When Dr. Robert Breault taught David Sauer as a voice student in the University of Utah’s School of Music, he couldn’t predict that this student would one day hire him to direct a familiar opera where he would work alongside several of his former and current students in a professional production. 

Sauer, who received his Doctor of Musical Arts at the U, is now General Director of St. George Opera, beginning its third season. This week, St. George Opera presented “La Bohème,” in which Sauer sang the lead role of Rodolfo. For this production, he seized an opportunity to once again work with his former professor.

“I directed David in a production of 'La Bohème' in Italy,"  Breault explained. “I think that David enjoyed the process, and the production, and hired me to direct 'La Bohème' which is the first professional fully-staged opera to be presented [in St. George].”

This is one of numerous university connections at play. Cast members Christopher Clayton (Marcello), and Hillary Koolhoven (Waitress) also earned their master's degrees from the U. Michelle Pedersen (Musetta), and Greg Watts (Benoit and Alcindoro) are both currently master's candidates.

Breault knows them all well. He is Pedersen's voice teacher and Koolhoven was his assistant director in "La Rondine," where Sauer sang the challenging role of Ruggero. To see students' progression throughout their professional pursuits is a rare and meaningful opportunity for him. Boheme1

“I cannot express how proud I am of David and all the students and former students in this production.  They are all brilliantly demonstrating the skills we work(ed) so hard to develop in their training at the U,” Breault said. “It is very difficult to find the kind of traction in our business that will launch a successful career. To see David running a company and hiring his colleagues and even his mentor, well, it just makes me very happy and proud.”

Current U music students not in the cast were able to observe "La Bohème’s" progress as the company began staging the opera on campus at the Vocal Arts Center in the evenings, offering a glimpse into the real working world after graduation.

Breault noted this kind of opportunity for professional development gives the U’s fine arts programs real edge.

“When students concurrently perform and study, they demonstrate that we’re doing something truly special at the U. This kind of thing significantly distinguishes us from other programs,” he noted. “It’s kind of like when a student performs with Ohio Light Opera in the summer, or a theatre student works at Pioneer Theatre Company, or a string player sits with the Salt Lake Symphony. It’s really exceptional.”

Published in Finer Points Blog

Rise Up Children’s Choir, the new performance organization co-founded by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre Amy Oakeson, has struck a viral chord.

The choir’s music video for “Speechless,” from Disney’s live action film "Aladdin," has reached 5.5 million views in less than one month since its release on YouTube. With 90% of views from outside the United States and 50% from the Middle East and Indonesia, it is clear this particular arrangement of the popular new song has captured a vast and enthusiastic audience, evidenced by the 9,400 comments left on the video’s page. Amy Oakeson Headshot Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre Amy Oakeson

“While we were really excited about our ‘Speechless’ video, we absolutely didn’t expect it to go viral the way it did, especially in the Middle East,” Oakeson says. “For some reason, that song, and the way we produced it, really spoke to a lot of people in a new and different way.”

The song’s writer, famed composer Alan Menken, was amongst those to share the video. Menken’s lyrics speak to female empowerment and overcoming historic oppression: “Written in stone / every rule, every word / centuries old and unbending.” Oakeson and team saw within this theme a wider application.  

She explains, “As we thought about the song in a broader context, it became clear that it is powerful because it speaks to anyone -- regardless of gender, or age, or race, or religion – who has experienced oppression for any reason, or who has been bullied, exploited, or beaten down.”

Filmed at Little Sahara Sand Dunes, the video seeks to reference the Arabian roots from which the story springs. With the desire to show respect for cultures they were honoring, RUCC also chose to have all the children dressed in customary scarves. The careful intention of these choices was noted in comments left by viewers.   

One viewer wrote: “Their voices made me listen to it a second time, and I thought of them as children of Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, Rohingya, Kashmir, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. Cried hard and prayed that everyone’s voice be heard. Love from Nepal.” 

“There are no nationality, religion, language and gender when it comes to being human. We’re all humans trying to survive in this world. Why don’t we make it easier for ourselves? Being human…that’s it,” wrote another.  

Because of the video’s reach, RUCC has received invitations from all over the world to perform live, or to collaborate with producers and organizations in the development of music videos and recording music. Specifically, the group was invited by Historic Programs, the History Channel, and the United States Department of Defense to perform at the Anniversary of VJ Day in Hawaii.

RUCC Spirit BTS 177 LBehind the Scenes of "Spirit" Continuing their momentum, the choir released another video: a cover of Beyonce’s “Spirit” from Disney’s latest "Lion King." The video is inspired by the real stories of three of RUCC’s performers who all previously called Uganda home. Project Have Hope, a non-profit focused on female empowerment and economic stability in Uganda, partnered with the choir to provide the handmade beaded necklaces worn by the singers. Profits from the sale of these necklaces from the video have already provided scholarship money for Ugandan students. 

Initiatives like these that connect the arts to social justice have allowed for tangible contributions in addition to the central mission of Rise Up to “inspire young performers to uplift, entertain and transform our world through music.”

In regards to the growing impact of such a new organization, Oakeson says: “Suzy [Oliveira] and I always had really big hopes and dreams for Rise Up. We set the bar really high for ourselves, our staff, and the children in the choir in terms of the standard of performance and production that we wanted to achieve.”   

Follow Rise Up Children's Choir on Instagram at @riseupchildrenschoir. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Film and Media Arts faculty member Lynne Van Dam presents her most recent film, Drury Lane on campus December 1st! This feature length murder mystery will be screened at the Post Theatre at 7pm and is free and open to the public. 

About the film:
A private eye on a routine case discovers there is a much deeper evil lurking below the surface. Former maverick cop Frankie O'Malley finds one of her street informants dead on a park bench, being investigated by the man who moved out of her life, and into her job. Frankie is pulled inexorably into the case as she discovers the connection between her routine case and the deaths of her street informants. As the threads of the mystery evolve, her father becomes entwined. She reconnects with her former partner, but finds that her past holds the key to uncovering the truth.

December 1, 7P
The Post Theater
245 Fort Douglas Blvd,
Salt Lake City, UT 84113

Published in Finer Points Blog
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