Photos: Grand Finale, Freud's Last Session, Dr. Peter Isaacson with HSU Orchestra
HSU’s visually and audibly stunning Fine Arts Gala, in its third Homecoming this year, left audiences wanting more as a grand finale combined members of the HSU Orchestra, Concert Choir, and members of the audience.
With astute showmanship, HSU’s dean of the College of Fine Arts, Dr. Robert Tucker, signals for the audience to stand and join the choir and orchestra students in the final bold chorus of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” But Tucker points to faculty and students in the College of Fine Arts for the show’s rousing success. “Students are doing triple-duty. I pretty much just get out of their way,” says Tucker.
“Dr. Wayne Dorothy is the person responsible for keeping the show moving quickly with little hesitation between the performances,” says Tucker. Dorothy, director of the “World Famous” Cowboy Band and professor of music, staged the gala to switch between the Concert Choir and the Chorale Choir performances in the Behrens Auditorium balcony, and then back to the stage with the Concert Band, and later, the HSU Orchestra. Theatre and HSU Opera performances took place on the stage in front of the curtain, while larger groups set up behind, allowing audience members to experience nine separate performances in just one hour.
The gala boasted several show-stealing moments, not the least of which was the lyrical and rhythmically powerful, Danzón No. 2, performed by the 50-piece HSU Orchestra, directed by Dr. Peter Isaacson. Lead violinist and concertmaster, Robert Colley, an HSUsenior from Abilene’s Cooper High School, had a featured role in the performance that also included strumming cellos and violinists picking strings.
The Department of Art featured its students in a powerful video, edited and shot by talented senior graphic design major, Kirstie Rhodes of Artesia, New Mexico. The video chronicled students’ travels to Rome, Sienna, and Florence, Italy, this past summer. The eleven students studied at the Santa Reparata International University School of Art with professor of art, Linda Fawcett, and assistant professor of photography, Carrie Jones.
The Department of Theatre represented the fall performance season with its popular and sold-out presentation of Freud’s Last Session. The excerpt was directed by senior Rebekah McGregor, working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree this December. Against the backdrop of World War II, the cerebral play pits a then little-known professor, C.S. Lewis, against the legendary psychoanalyst in an existential and religious battle of the wits. Gregory Peyton, slated to graduate with a BFA degree in 2015, played the ailing Freud. Dakota Davis, with plans to graduate HSU in 2016 with a BFA degree, played C.S. Lewis and also performed in the Concert Choir wearing his mid-20th century attire.
HSU Opera, directed by Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, assistant professor of voice, performed “Duo-Piano,” and one of HSU’s most brilliant musicians, Wenhui “Sherry” Dou, of Harbin, China, played the delicately lyrical “Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon” on piano.
Blind since age 2, Dou is pursuing a Master of Music degree in piano performance at HSU. Her mother, Ping Lu, moved to Abilene with Sherry to support her throughout her education. HSU’s power duo piano profs, Dr. Mark Puckett and Lauren Puckett, say they hate to lose Dou when she graduates in May 2014.
Dou also sings in the Concert Choir, illustrating Tucker’s comment regarding students doing double and triple-duty. Dr. Wayne Dorothy says many of his band members will be involved in as many as seven performances throughout the Homecoming weekend.
The Gala itself also played double-duty to promote upcoming performance of the College of Fine Arts, projecting times, dates, and venues on screens set up on each side of the stage:
- The HSU Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. in Behrens Auditorium, Tuesday, October 15, 2013, and again on December 3, 7:30, Behrens. It is free to students, faculty, and the general public.
- HSU’s Concert Band performs free concerts on October 22 and November 25, 2013, 7:30 p.m. in Behrens Auditorium.
- The HSU Opera presents “The Worst One Ever,” an opera in one act, and an “Evening of Opera Scenes,” Thursday, October 24 - Friday October 25, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in Woodward-Dellis Recital Hall. Admission is free.
- The HSU Concert Choir, conducted by Dr. Clell Wright, performs in Woodward-Dellis Recital Hall November 18, 7:30 p.m., in a free concert. The choir also performs at the Thanksgiving chapel service, 9:30 a.m., November 26, 2013, in Behrens Auditorium.
- The HSU Chorale Choir, conducted by Dr. Dee Romines, performs in a free concert November 19, 7:30 p.m., in Woodward-Dellis Recital Hall.
- HSU Department of Theatre will do seven performances of Sense and Sensibility at 7:30 p.m., Van Ellis Theatre, November 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, and at 2 p.m. November 24, 2013.
As the performance ended, Tucker invited alums to participate in the Re-seating Woodward-Dellis Project, “Those orange seats have been there since before I came to HSU as a freshman in 1978, and as many of you know, they have run their course. You can honor or memorialize someone for just $250 per seat.” More info can be found on the HSU website at https://connect.hsutx.edu/ReSeatProject.