Each year UNCG starts its performing arts series off with the Collage concert. This heavily choreographed events features works , both new and old, from members of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Collage also features almost 300 performers, ranging all the way from undergraduate students to faculty members, which makes it the UNCG’s largest performance of the year.
This year’s performing theme is “War and Peace”, and is showcasing famous works that illuminates struggles. Most recognizably this year’s concert will feature multiple excerpts from the score of “Star Wars.” Featured on the program are John William’s “Imperial March” and “Princess Leia’s Theme”, which were made famous at the films 1977 debut. Oddly enough, the works that inspired William’s compositions for Star Wars will also be on the program. Gustav Holst wrote “The Planets” between 1914 and 1916, and designated each movement of the orchestral suite an astrological sign. The movements that will be performed at Collage is “Mars, the Bringer of War.” It begins with a march like rhythm in the strings, who a performing a “col legno” stroke, which just means to articulate with the wood of the bow. After this the brass enters with a suspended figure, that climbs into an almost heroic statement. Typically this piece is generally confused for the “Imperial March” because they sound so alike.
Another piece that follows the this theme is selections from Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No.5 in D Minor. The composition of this work is interesting because it shows the struggle of an artisan facing a totalitarian government. At the time of it’s premiere in 1937, the ideal of socialist realism was being fully implemented in the USSR. Socialist realism was an artistic movement that sought to romanticize communist values and ideals. This included things such fetishizing the proletariat, and exuding a rather “pro Russia” aesthetic. Being fully endorsed by the Soviet government, artists who fell outside the socialist realist norm were generally censored and essentially blacklisted, usually to the point of poverty.
Symphony No.5 is an interesting example of this. Shostakovich was deemed unpopular in 1936, as his music was considered too complicated for the standards of socialist realism. This makes the composition of the Symphony No. 5 noteworthy, as we see Shostakovich write in a style more similar to older composers of the classical and romantic eras. What is also interesting about this is that Shostakovich also inserts fragments of modernism in the Symphony, as is show with his brief moments of dissonance and chromaticism. This makes the piece seem as if it’s fighting with itself for a sense of identity. The piece was received relatively well after it’s premiere, and after its composition Shostakovich turned to composing in a more classical style and producing works for smaller ensembles. Reflective of Shostakovich’s experience under the Stalin regime, Symphony No.5 expresses moments of human oppression, sorrow and triumph, as is shown in his control for orchestral music.
One of the great things about Collage is that is an excellent exhibition of the talent found within UNCG’s School of Music. Besides the works for large ensembles like the Wind Ensemble, University Chorale and Symphony Orchestra, the concert also has many chamber and solo performances. Hayden’s “Passacaglia” is a duet that will feature faculty members Alex Ezerman on cello and Marjorie Bagley. Isaac Pyatt, a junior composer and percussionist will be performing “Chaconne No.2”, which is a solo piece written by himself.
Our illustrious Jazz Ensemble I will also be performing a piece in honor of Louis Armstrong. Led by trumpeter and professor Brandon Lee, an original composition of his,
“From Within” is scheduled to be performed on the second half of College by the faculty jazz quartet.
For the performers themselves, Collage offers an exciting time and atmosphere that is only scene in the first few weeks of September. Having been a part of the past three previous Collage concerts, it’s a hectic yet enriching experience. To be preparing for such a large concert less than a month after the start of school is quite an endeavour. Excerpts have to be learned and solo parts perfected in a fraction of the time that we generally receive before a concert. And among the frenzy there rises a feeling of comradery. There is this feeling of pride that as performers we have the privilege of maintaining UNCG’s reputation as a serious music school, and as unique university.
Collage is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 10 at UNCG Auditorium. Tickets generally typically sell out, but you may still be able to obtain at one of the UNCG box offices, at the Triad Stage box office or online as well. For an event that only happens once a year, it truly is fantastic.