“More than a concert”: Collage 2017
By: Evan Welsh
The music rang from every angle of a full Schneebeck hall. Instrumentally, everything was covered, from string and wind ensembles to EWI and intonation pipes. The styles ranged from classical to Broadway to jazz and beyond. Genre and location shifted with each new piece performed. Even with a program, each transition from song to song excited and surprised. Collage was more an experience than a concert.
Collage is a concert that is formatted to transition seamlessly from piece to piece, meaning the last note of one song will be the first note of the next, regardless of the style of music played. The format allows for a wide range of musical styles and eras to be performed. Collage at the University of Puget Sound sees more than 100 total performers, mostly students with featured appearances from the faculty of the Music department.
“It’s the first big event at the School of Music each fall; it’s become a tradition.” Dr. Gerard Morris said. He is Director of Bands at Puget Sound and was one of the coordinators and producers for this year’s Collage.
“It features all the areas of the school of music — we incorporate every department together,” Dr. Morris said. The show thrives on this collaboration of the School of Music, making it stand alone compared to every other concert performed throughout the year.
“It’s a showcase of the talent of the faculty and some of our best-performing students at the University. It’s an event; every year is is completely unique,” Dr. Morris said.
The shifting spotlights directing the attention to different places in the concert hall and the eclectic program distinguished Collage “from other events,” as Dr. Morris described. The attention of the audience was never lost. The changes came too frequently to allow for any distraction.
The first Collage concert at Puget Sound was in the fall seven years ago, and was fronted heavily by Dr. Maria Sampen, the Director of Strings at Puget Sound. The idea for this collage format came from her experience seeing popularity and distinctiveness of the collage style work so well while at the University of Michigan. She and her husband, Tim Christie, an affiliate artist at University of Puget Sound, brought it to the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival where it continued to thrive.
“I thought this would be a great format for the University, so I started talking to my colleagues,” Dr. Sampen said. Collage has grown in the seven years since its beginning at Puget Sound and is now intensely popular; every seat at this year’s show was occupied.
The student performers and audience members also greatly appreciate the collage concert format. It gives both the opportunity to be a part of a concert experience that is unlike the ones they are normally used to performing in and seeing.
“I love Collage, mostly because it brings a wide array of audience members — there are so many students in the production, all of their friends come. I think the performance structure is much more dynamic,” Aiden Glaze, a senior vocal performer in Collage, said.
It was not just a concert, at least not in the way most people would think. The directional flow of the pieces within the program along with the spatial arrangement of the performers created an event, an experience, unlike anything else at the University of Puget Sound.
An experience like this can only be captured once. By next fall, the flow of the program will change, the lights will shift in color and movement, and where the audience might have once assumed the performers to stand may have been moved out of their line of vision.