Editorial: Experience UP’s artistic and cultural offerings

By The Beacon | October 10, 2013 12:44am

Portland is an exceptional place to experience the arts. Venues like the Crystal Ballroom and the Roseland Theater constantly have big-name acts coming into town, the Portland Art Museum has some great work in its collections and there’s no shortage of funky galleries in our hip arts districts. We have a symphony, a ballet company and an opera company.

With all these opportunities to see and hear fascinating works of art in the city, it’s easy to forget that we also have top-notch arts events going on around campus. Last weekend, the drama department put on “Barefoot in the Park,” the Bluffoons gave a comedy improv show, and the orchestra, wind symphony, jazz band, University Singers and women’s chorale all performed in Buckley Center Auditorium.

It’s a shame that student attendance tends to be low at on-campus performances. Many students, it seems, go to the one required concert for Fine Arts 207 and never again attend another performance at UP.

And fantastic things happen in these performances. During “Barefoot in the Park,” a surprise appearance from French professor Madame Booth elicited uproarious laughter and applause. At the orchestra concert, sophomore Cem Inan brought the audience to their feet after a riveting performance of a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. The wind symphony performed the world premiere of a song by up-and-coming composer Anthony O’Toole.

Of course, many college students are ambivalent about traditional art forms like theater and orchestral or choral music. It’s easy to get excited about a Lumineers concert, but a jazz band performance might seem like a less relatable event.

But there’s really no reason not to experience UP’s arts offerings. Unlike off-campus concert tickets, the concerts are free. Student tickets to theater productions are only $5 (and some nights, they have free tickets for students).

Furthermore, the more enthusiasm students have for their peers’ work in the arts, the better our programs will be. Higher attendance would encourage even more creativity and excellence in the University’s musicians, actors, singers and artists.

Unfortunately, the first wave of this year’s performances at UP passed over the weekend. But throughout the rest of the semester, there will be another play and more performances from each of the University’s music ensembles.

In addition to performances, the University brings in speakers from all fields and disciplines. This evening, cultural anthropologist Jud Newborn will give a multimedia presentation about anti-Nazi movements for the annual Zahm Lecture. On Oct. 24, novelist and essayist David James Duncan will give a reading of his work as part of Schoenfeldt Distinguished Writers series.

While students wait for the next wave of dramatic and musical events, they can experience art at UP by stopping in the Buckley Center gallery before class. It’s easy to look past the pieces of art in the gallery while rushing to class, but many distinguished painters, photographers and sculptors have displayed work there. Right now, the gallery features an eclectic collection of paintings and sculptures by contemporary Native American artists.

Go see a play or a concert. Stop to look at paintings in Buckley Center or the library. There’s art all around our campus. Take advantage of it.

Oct. 10 : Zahm Lecture 7:30 p.m., Buckley Center Auditorium

Oct. 24 : James Duncan -- Schoenfeldt Distinguished Authors series 7:00 p.m., Buckley Center Auditorium

Nov. 8-10 and 14-16 : “Alkestis” Shows at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinee only at 2:00 p.m.

Nov. 23 : Wind Symphony and Women's Chorale 7:30 p.m., Buckley Center Auditorium

Nov. 24 : Jazz Band and Combos 3:00 p.m., Buckley Center Auditorium

Nov. 26 : Chamber Ensembles 6:00 p.m., Mago Hunt Recital Hall

Dec. 3 : Orchestra 7:30 p.m., Buckley Center Auditorium

Dec. 7 : Annual Advent Concert (free, but tickets are required) 8:00 p.m., St. Mary's Cathedral