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The City Journals

Westminster dance, music concerts light up December

Nov 26, 2019 04:47PM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

The Westminster Chamber Orchestra will perform Dec. 11 as part of the college’s Winter Music Festival. (Photo courtesy of Westminster)

By Jenniffer Wardell | [email protected]

Celebrate this December with music and dance. 

The Westminster Department of Dance is ready to help people start tapping their toes with the upcoming MOSAIC dance concert, set for Dec. 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. at the Jay W. Lees Courage Theatre. The college’s music department is kicking off their Winter Music Festival the same nights, starting with a performance by the Westminster combined choirs. The Westminster Chamber Players will follow on Dec. 9, the college’s chamber orchestra on Dec. 11, and the Westminster Jazz Ensemble on Dec. 12. All the festival concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Vieve Gore Concert Hall. 

“Performance opportunities are a key part of an education in music," said Emilio Casillas, who handles public relations for the music department. "So while our students are able to share their hard work and talents with the community, the community, by attending, helps our students learn and grow as performers."

The same is true of the dance department, which holds a winter concert every year. This year’s concert is put together by two guest choreographers, but it’s based on a semester’s worth of techniques and styles taught by educators across a variety of classes. 

“I'm hoping audiences will enjoy the mixture of styles and mediums,” said Jared Larkin, an associate professor who works with the dance department. “Not only will there be live dance – modern, contemporary, ballet, etc. – but we will also be presenting the outcomes from our Dance for the Camera course. It should prove to be a unique night of dance.”

The students, who audition for classes, also audition for various roles within the production. Their individual talents add another level of variety to the concert, as well as one more way the dance concert earned the name MOSAIC.

“A mosaic is generally a piece of art composed of multiple pieces of various color, shapes, sizes, and textures, some of which could have been works of art themselves,” he said. “Our concert is the creation of a unified work of art composed of multiple pieces or art with various styles, techniques, narratives, and vision. I liked the idea of the coming together of these disparate pieces to create something collectively that they may not have individually.”

For Larkin, that coming together mirrors the larger flow of the world itself. 

He said his favorite thing about the dance concerts “is the way they capture the human condition, experience, and/or narrative through movement. The artistry and aesthetic of humanity shared through the body in space and time.”

The Winter Music Festival is a new version of an old tradition for the college’s music department. The various performing groups always had winter concerts to show off everything they’d learned throughout the semester, but they hadn’t made an event out of it. 

"Each concert, each performance, represents a benchmark in each student’s education," Casillas said. "Every performer has spent years learning, training, and rehearsing in order to be able to perform at the level they do. Our faculty, who frequently perform with their ensembles in some capacity, have spent decades honing their own skills as musicians, performers, and, most importantly, educators."

Even better for audiences, all that skill is being poured into all different types of music. Over the course of the festival, the groups will perform everything from classical masterpieces and experimental music to jazz classic and new twists on old pop favorites. 

“My personal favorite component of the festival is the diversity of music,” Casillas said. “Our students put on fantastic performances, and there is something for everyone to enjoy over the course of the festival.”

Tickets for MOSAIC are $12 general admission. Winter Festival tickets are $5 per event, or $15 when purchased all together as part of a festival bundle. Tickets for all individual events can be purchased online at westminstercollege.edu/campus-life/events-and-performances/performing-arts-events

Westminster students, faculty and staff can get tickets to all events for free, but those tickets must be purchased at the college’s box office with a Westminster I.D. The festival ticket bundles must also be purchased at the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts box office, located at 1840 S. 1300 East. The center is also the location of the Jay W. Lees Courage Theatre, while the attached Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory is home of the Vieve Gore Concert Hall.