By Laura Zaks
The New Recital Hall embraced PAC’s Instrumental Sampler on Friday night, March 15, with warm lights and open arms.
PAC has been excited to plan a night of celebrating music that many of us find a language we are fluent in— whether it be listening and appreciating the culture or actually being involved in speaking through playing an instrument.
Either way, PAC sees this fluency and wanted the sampler to be all about the theme, “Sharing Our Universal Language.”It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from— the beat of the drums, the combination of piano and violin and the strumming of guitar speaks volumes and goes straight to the heart.
Jason Schwartz, the Vice President of Production in PAC, began the night thanking everyone for coming out and supporting the arts scene here at Penn State.The acts for the night were as follows: PSUkele, Michael Divino and Carina Hui, Penn State Jazz Combo, the Guitar ensemble and Taiko.“I was overjoyed to see so many diverse groups showcase their talents for an extremely receptive audience,” Schwartz said. “The performances truly exemplified the power music has to reach people as a universal language.”
Whether it was PSUkele playing the crowd favorite, “Falling in Love With You” or the Taiko drummers using technique and poise to deliver strong, powerful beats, the night was as special as it was invigorating.
Each act ended in applause and whistles from the audience.
Fiona Zhang sat in the third row and found the night to be one of a kind, a “true testimony to music,” she said.“I went into the event thinking I was just going to hear instrumental music — music without words or lyrics,” Fiona Zhang, an audience member said. “I realized quickly you don’t need words or lyrics for this music. There’s still very much a story there through the sounds.”
Celeste Belknap, the Instrumental Ambassador of PAC, felt the night was very special.
“Each act was unique,” Belknap said. “They all represented the diversity of instrumental music.”
Last week, PAC held its very first Arts Community Roundtable where students and faculty came together to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the organizations and their collaboration amongst each other and the university.
The night was deemed a success by the student leaders who came out and the PAC executive board that was excited for the night to come into fruition. Marissa Works, president of PAC, was thrilled with the turnout of the night. “It was an honor to have administration from Center for the Performing Arts, School of Music, and School of Theatre present to discuss the state of the arts community,” Works said. “I am excited to continue to host these events because we walked away with some really big takeaways and ideas about how to move forward!”The takeaways included topics of bringing arts to the forefront of the university.
“Some key topics we touched upon included improving communication methods between student artists and the outside community, innovative promotional styles, the arts attracting prospective students, and the need for accessible rehearsal spaces at a small cost,” she said.
Kira Robbins, an executive member of PAC, felt it was so beautiful to see people of different artistic interests come together to support one another. “PAC works really hard to bridge gaps between genres, but sometimes it’s hard to quantify our efforts,” Robbins explained. “Having so many genres in one room proved to us that we all want to see each other succeed.”She gave an example: “One dance representative said she loved this roundtable, encouraging PAC to do more, because it helps her understand both the amazing art happening all over campus as well as the hardships we all go through to do our art here,” Robbins shared.
Mia Zappacosta, a sophomore BFA acting major, was also present at the roundtable and felt the night brought to light an important discussion on arts representation.“It was really interesting to hear about what other’s experiences were and what they may be struggling with in their art form,” she said. “We talked briefly about the separation of the different genres of performing arts, and how we have yet to come up with a good solution to bridging the gaps. We’re all so busy that it can be hard to create events that we can all attend.”
Zappacosta enjoyed the collegiality that ensued by the end of the roundtable.“We all agreed that communication is the only way to create a better community,” she said. “We also agreed that streamlining that communication is essential so that it gets the important information to the most people.”
Hope Falk, Student Engagement Manager of PAC and CPA, is excited to see such results: “Discussion at the roundtable was incredibly fruitful and solidified my belief that PAC is making strides towards a unified and recognized arts community,” she said.PAC is looking forward to continuing these roundtables so we can continue to grow in our arts community and support one another as best as we possibly can.
By Laura Zaks
The PAC balloons, pens, pins and pamphlets greeted the students, faculty and townies that poured into Schwab Nov. 8, for the fourth annual A Cappella Sampler.
When the clock struck 7:30 p.m., the auditorium lights lowered and the opening video, announcing the event's inaugural theme, suddenly filled the screen.
As images of THON, football games and Old Main Lawn vigils flashed across the screen, so did moving words like, “We are all singers... Song is Engrained in Our University's Culture.” PAC wanted to drive home the idea that here at Penn State — in times of triumph, sadness, healing and faith — we sing. Through Song, We Are One. This power of song was demonstrated throughout the night.
The groups that brought passion, voice and harmonizing melodies to Schwab were Blue in the Face, FANAA, Savoir Faire, Shades of Blue, The Coda Conduct, None of the Above, The Singing Lions, The Pennharmonics and The Statesmen.
“The sampler is such an important event because all of the a cappella groups come together and share the same stage — something they don’t often get to do even though they share the same goals,” Marissa Works, president of PAC, said. “This is also such a special opportunity for the audience because they can see a sampling of all nine a cappella groups in one night.”
Works felt the theme of being unified through music is for the audience, too.
“This year, in adding the theme, it makes the night all the more meaningful because it unifies the groups with the audience and shows that we truly are all in this together,” Works said, smiling. “There’s something powerful about coming together through song.”
And that is why, after all the A Cappella groups preformed and the show has come to a close, the entirety of Schwab Auditorium swayed together and sang the alma mater.
The room was swept in the emotion and lyrics as well as the love for an art that is all about bringing people together as one.
“I love A Cappella and singing so much that I can’t imagine my college career without it,” Julia Coleman, a member of Pennharmonics said. “Every week I get to be with my favorite people and create something amazing — I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Bryel Frasch, another Pennharmonic, agreed.
“I love the performing arts on campus and nights like this show me that singing is not just about my voice but about making experiences,” Frasch said. “I’m leaving college with a family and that is something special.”
You go to a show and you wait for the lights to dim. You see the dancers, the musicians. You see the flash of stage lights, the words the actors are reciting. You hear voices blending and harmonizing.