Recently in Performing Arts Category
Written by Dwight Bachman and Ed Osborn
Willimantic, Conn. -- 1,256 undergraduates and 41 graduate students heard the roars and cheers of thousands of their family members and friends as they celebrated their achievements at Eastern Connecticut State University's 123nd Commencement exercises at the XL Center in Hartford on May 14.
Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest member of the "Little Rock Nine," gave the Commencement Address, telling the graduates "This is your moment, a time you have been looking forward to and working toward since you first arrived at Eastern. Celebrate the moment; seize it. Step out into your future bravely and boldly." LaNier noted that the graduates were bound to encounter challenges. Those experiences will be "the greatest teacher in the grand classroom of life. Those challenges will show you who you really are."
The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, AR, in 1957. Due to the segregation policies of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and the mob atmosphere in Little Rock at the time, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered 1,000 members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division to Arkansas to provide protection and escort the nine students to class throughout the 1957-58 school year.
Despite the daily military escort, LaNier and her friends were kicked, hit with rocks, threatened, and shunned. Her own home was firebombed. As the onslaught continued, "the more determined I became to get my diploma." Today, she has "made peace with my past."
LaNier turned to the Class of 2013 and encouraged them to have the same commitment: "Finish whatever goals you have set for yourself. Find the strength, fortitude and determination to see it through. When you see injustice, how will you respond? I hope you take the heroic stand." LaNier was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa at the Commencement Exercises.
Eastern President Elsa M. Nunez told the graduates, "There is no other country in the world that places its future so firmly in the hands of the people. You are now the next generation of citizen leaders in our state and in our nation. . . . The world needs your energy, your enthusiasm, and your skills . . . There is a challenge out there ready for you to conquer, whether it's helping out at your church or synagogue, volunteering at the local senior center, or inventing a new surgical procedure. There is a team somewhere that needs you to complete its mission."
As an example of the contributions Eastern students are making in the world, Nunez cited more than 100,000 hours of volunteer work performed by Eastern students, faculty, and staff each year in local communities, noting that President Barack Obama's had named Eastern to his National Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the third time in four years that past March.At the same time, President Nunez told the graduates to "be yourself and do what makes you happy," and quoted New England bard Henry Thoreau, who wrote: "Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still."
From the Governor's Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the plaintive sound of the bagpipes of the St. Patrick's Pipe Band and the pre-event music of the Thread City Brass Quintet, Eastern's graduation ceremonies were marked by dignity, grace and elegance. Senior Jessica Johnson sang "America the Beautiful," and Senior Class President Thomas Balestracci presented President Núñez with the class gift, a scholarship funded by more than 200 donations from the graduating class. Balestracci encouraged his classmates to continue donating so that the scholarship would grow. "We have all benefited from our experiences here at Eastern. These experiences are the ones that we will keep with us forever as we move on. They will be the ones we will look back upon and realize that they have helped us become who we are today. We lived up each day like it was our last at Eastern, and now, it really is our last day. We have turned our dreams into reality during our time at this University and we made memories that will last a lifetime."
Yvette Melendez, vice president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, the governing body for the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, brought greetings on behalf of the Board of Regents. "Congratulations to each and every one of you for reaching this incredible milestone. This is one of those moments that will forever be embedded in your memory. You are at the beginning of a future you have just begun to mold. You took the first step in that journey by enrolling at Eastern. You have much to be proud of." Meléndez urged the graduates to make their contribution to society "in the way that Eastern has taught you. You have worked exceedingly hard . . . you have learned that regardless of major, you are part of a community."
Nana Owusu-Agyemang of Ghana, West Africa, delivered the Senior Class Address. She thanked the faculty for their support, saying, "During my time here at Eastern, I have met professors that I simply cannot forget -- professors who really care for their students. It will forever strike me how much time professors at Eastern are willing to spend with each student...how much of themselves they give. It's not just the professors who make Eastern what it is. At Eastern it's not just about imparting knowledge, it's about joining hands to mold each student into a richer person academically and mentally, as well." Owusu-Agyemang closed by quoting the late philosopher Alan Watts, who once said, "The attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."
"May our truth be a good truth," said Owusu-Agyemang. "May our world be a good world. May our mark be a good mark."
Carlotta Walls LaNier made history at age 14 when she enrolled at Central High School as a sophomore. On the first day of school she was surrounded by an angry mob that prevented the nine African American students from entering the building. After two weeks of protests and violence, President Dwight Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to Little Rock to protect the "Little Rock Nine" by escorting them to class for a year. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus closed Little Rock schools for the 1958-59 school year, forcing LaNier to take correspondence courses. In June 1960, she became the first African American female student to graduate from Central High School.
LaNier has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the prestigious Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1958, and the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, which was bestowed upon the Little Rock Nine in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. She is also the author of "A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School."
Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang
Willimantic, Conn. - The Performing Arts Department at Eastern Connecticut State University will hold a Concert Band performance on April 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium. The public is invited. Admission is free. Shafer Auditorium is in Shafer Hall, located at Valley and High Streets in Willimantic.
Kathryn Niemasik, part-time professor of music, will conduct the ensemble, which will play music she describes as both "exciting and expressive." "Ignition," a powerfully energetic opener composed by conductor Todd Stalter, will open the night.
Niemasik's favorite, "El Camino Real," is an expansive composition by Alfred Reed that is both exciting and beautifully tender. It is based on the music of two Spanish dance forms -- the jota and fandango. Selections from "Les Miserables"-- featuring some of the best-known songs from the musical, including "At the End of the Day;" "I Dreamed a Dream;" "On My Own" and others -- will also be performed that night.
"This is an extremely ambitious selection of music to be performed by the Eastern Concert Band," says Niemasik, and the audience should expect and exciting repertoire.
For more information on the performance, contact Kathryn Niemasik at email@example.com or (860) 465-5193.
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's School of Arts and Sciences will hold its 13th annual Student Research and Exhibition Conference from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on April 13 in the Science Building. The public is invited. Admission is free.
More than 100 students, supported by more than 50 faculty mentors, will present projects and presentations showcasing nine departments in the School of Arts and Sciences.
From 9:30-11:50 a.m., students will present oral presentations in the Science Building. From 11:50 a.m.-12:30 p.m., poster presentations will be on display in the Science Building Lobby and visual arts exhibits can be viewed in Room 223 of the Student Center. The exhibits will include digital art, prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures and books created by Eastern students.
The projects range from presentations such as "Artificial Structures in Marine Environments: Do Materials Influence the Success of Invasive Species?" by Biology major Sheona Douglas '14 of Bloomfield, to "CIRC DU TAROT: The symbolism of the Major Arcana Through Circus Illustrations" by Communication major Lindsey Ancel '13 of Milford.
Eastern's Jazz Ensemble will close out the ceremony.
Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang
Willimantic, Conn. - The Performing Arts Department of Eastern Connecticut State University will hold a solo piano recital on April 13. at 3-5 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium, located in Shafer Hall. Performing will be music lecturer Sarah Masterson, playing pieces by Mozart, Schubert, Roy Harris and Liszt.
Masterson recently completed her doctoral degree in performance at the University of Connecticut (UConn), where she performed as part of the UConn Wind Ensemble, the UConn Chamber Music Festival and the William Benton Museum of Art's RecitalsPlus series. As winner of the UConn graduate division's 2009 concerto competition, Masterson performed Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor with the UConn orchestra. In March 2010, her piano trio performed as part of the prestigious Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts Classics Series.
As the winner of the 2001 Young Artist competition, Masterson performed with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra. At DePauw University, she performed as soloist with the DePauw Symphony Orchestra; accompanied a variety of recitals and musical theater productions; and performed as part of DePauw's annual Music of the 21st Century festival. She has also participated in master classes with several artists, including Vladimir Viardo and Jon Nakamatsu.
For more information about the recital, please contact the Performing Arts Department on (860) 465-5325.
Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang
Willimantic, Conn. - The Performing Arts Department of Eastern Connecticut State University will hold the third and final Brown Bag Concert of the academic year on April 12 at noon in Shafer Hall Auditorium. The public is invited. Admission is free. Shafer Hall is located at Valley and High Streets in Willimantic.
The Brown Bag Concert series is an opportunity for students who are studying applied music to demonstrate their skills on a regular basis in a relaxed environment. This opportunity is outside of the normal setting of large concerts that occur regularly on campus, and serves as a way for individuals to perform solo material.
The concerts are an hour in length and are held on the second Friday of every month. They are performed in a friendly, inviting setting, and the audience is encouraged to bring lunch and enjoy the music.
Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang
Willimantic, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University Theatre program will present the mystical musical "Once On This Island" on April18-21 and April 23-24 in the Harry Hope Theatre in Shafer Hall.
The musical will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on April18-20 and April 23-24, with a 4 p.m. matinée on April 21. The public is invited. Admission is $5 for students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff and senior citizens; and $12 for the general public. Shafer Hall is located at the corner of High and Valley Streets in Willimantic.
Amanda Conkey and Daniel Fernandez performing in "Once on this Island"
Directed by lecturer Alycia Bright-Holland and supervised by Theatre Professor David Pellegrini, "Once On This Island" is a story of hope, struggle and rebirth, a musical with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty. It is a lyrical love story of two island people brought together and torn apart by fortune and fate.
Based on the novel "My Love, My Love," by Rosa Guy, "Once On This Island" was first produced in 1990 at Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan; it then moved to Broadway's Booth Theatre for a run of nearly 500 performances. It has been a popular musical since, and has had its most recent professional revival at the Paper Mill Playhouse, directed by Tony Award nominee Thomas Kail. New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote, a "Caribbean fairy tale told in rousing song and dance, this show is a joyous marriage of the slick and the folkloric, of the hard-nosed sophistication of Broadway musical theater and the indigenous culture of a tropical isle."
Incorporating unique West African dance forms, director/choreographer Bright-Holland works with co-musical directors Jan Jungden and Mark Makipuro to bring this timeless tale of the prince and the pauper to life through the pulsating beat of the Calypso-based score. Set designer Kristen Morgan's immersive island atmosphere is complimented by the artwork of Art Professor Imna Arroyo, who dresses the set. Connecticut-based costume designer Anya Sokolovskaya designed the costumes for the production, and Eastern's Music and Voice Professor Emily Riggs contributes as vocal coach, assisting in bringing a powerful Patois voice to the play.
Tickets may be reserved by calling the Harry Hope Theatre box office at (860) 465-5123.
For more information, please visit www.easternct.edu/performingarts.
Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education as one of the nation's colleges and universities that are leading the way in bettering their communities through community service and service learning.
Eastern was one of 609 institutions of higher learning acknowledged on President Obama's "Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll" earlier this month, recognized for their work in serving local communities through volunteer programs and other activities.
"Community service has been a hallmark at Eastern since our earliest days in the 1890s as the Willimantic State Normal School," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Today, our Center for Community Engagement works closely with our faculty to ensure that the service that our students perform in local communities aligns with their academic programs. In providing thousands of hours a year of service to dozens of social agencies and nonprofits, Eastern students are demonstrating their social responsibility while learning valuable professional and organizational skills.
To be recognized by President Obama as a university that exemplifies such service is something that everyone on our campus should be proud of." To better coordinate student service projects in the community, Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE) was launched in September 2009. A full-time director, assistant director, a shared administrative assistant, an AmeriCorps VISTA member and a part-time university assistant staff the center. The center also provides leadership opportunities through federal work-study employment for students.
Eastern's commitment to service is exemplified by the comprehensive volunteer efforts in area schools by Eastern students. Programs to assist schools with student academic performance, behavior and motivation are widespread and effective in all six schools in the district, as well as in local preschool programs. From 2008-09 to 2011-12 Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education partnered with two area early learning centers to address early literacy. Over the three-year period ending in the 2011-12 academic year, the project improved the language and early literacy skills of nearly 600 preschool-aged children by providing professional development and literacy coaching to 50 teachers and staff. Thirty-nine Eastern students were involved in this project through academic coursework.
Eastern students are also engaged in local schools outside of the classroom. Four hundred and forty-nine students volunteered 5,180 hours in long-term volunteering programs in Windham schools through the CCE and student clubs. Including students who participated in academic service-learning, more than 1,000 students contributed more than 60,000 volunteer hours in area schools. Students in the Business Administration Department provide database and website services to area nonprofits, assisting them in providing more effective services. Nonprofits also benefit from students engaged in the Community Grant Service Corps, supported by the Office of Academic Affairs. Students learn how to assist nonprofits with grant research, through use of the University's "Work Hub," an on-campus worksite dedicated to community-campus collaborations. In all, students provided more than 100,000 hours of service to the local community in 2011-12.
The Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future Mentoring Program demonstrates Eastern's commitment to community service. English Language Learners (ELL) in the Windham Public Schools struggle with assimilation into the school community both socially and academically. The Puentes al Futuro Program assisted ELL students at Windham Middle School (WMS) by integrating in-school tutoring and mentoring with afterschool and summer academic and cultural enrichment with the goal of encouraging students to excel academically and to attend college. The program is a collaborative effort between the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), WMS teachers, family liaisons, and afterschool program staff. WMS students have developed positive mentoring relationships with Eastern volunteers who have committed to continuing their mentoring relationship with the students as they transition to high school.
Students in the program showed very positive gains in math comprehension, from a mean of 17.8 on the pre-tests to a mean of 54.2 following the instruction. Comprehension remained high at the end of the six-week program, with a mean of 48.7. Students' language arts skills improved as they wrote poetry and performed before families. The project was supported by FWS, AmeriCorps VISTA and a state education grant.
The Collegiate Health Service Corps (CHSC) is a program coordinated by the Center for Community Engagement with a community partner, Eastern Area Health Education Center. The CHSC's mission is to expose undergraduate students to health careers through service learning experiences that promote culturally competent health and disease prevention education to medically underserved communities. Student volunteers participate in three program phases of 25 hours each.
In the past year, nine students contributed 234 hours of service at three elementary schools and one after-school program at a community center in Windham, CT, during the academic year. Students conducted a needs assessment to identify nutrition, public health and wellness topics of interest to the children in each of the programs. They then developed lesson plans with weekly objectives and site-specific activities; 80 lessons were provided at the four sites. Subject areas included nutrition, bullying, staying physically active, hygiene, emergency preparedness and stress and behavior management. Students also worked with a local community garden. Program coordinators at the 4 sites expressed great satisfaction with the program, indicating that the children learned a great deal and the program helped address critical public health issues in the Windham community, which has the highest obesity rate in the state. The AmeriCorps program supported this program.
Eastern's "Day of Giving," held on the day before Thanksgiving each year, has become one of the University's most highly acclaimed traditions. For six years in a row, more than 450 needy individuals and families have been served a Thanksgiving meal in the University's dining hall. This is a collaborative effort between students, faculty, administrators, contractors and service providers in the community to ensure that people who might otherwise go without a Thanksgiving meal are served with dignity and respect. More than 100 volunteers from across the campus, including student servers and staff from the University's food service provider, come together to cook, serve, clean up and provide transportation for anyone in the local community who would like to attend. In addition to the Thanksgiving meal, students work with local grocery stores to gather canned goods -- more than 5,000 items were delivered to soup kitchens and food pantries this past year.
In all, Eastern students, faculty and staff donate more than 106,000 hours of time annually to local communities, a value of $2.3 million annually. "Congratulations to Eastern Connecticut State University," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. "Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges."
The CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school's commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.
Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn: -- The Concert Chorale at Eastern Connecticut State University is hosting a pasta fund-raising dinner on April 6 at 5 p.m. at St. Joseph Church in Willimantic to benefit Eastern Concert Chorale's performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March 2014. Tickets are $8 and $5 for seniors and children 12 and under.
Several of the chamber vocal and instrumental ensembles will perform for dinner guests, as well as act as hosts for the evening, which will include a raffle. For more information on the dinner, contact David Belles at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (860) 465-0246.
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state's public liberal arts university and serves approximately 5,400 students each year on its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University to ensure equal access to its events. If you are an individual with a disability and will need accommodations for this event, please contact the Office of University Relations at (860) 465-5735.
Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Chamber Singers will perform on March 24 at 7 p.m. at Christ Church on Capitol Square in Raleigh, NC. The performance is part of the University's premiere vocal ensemble annual Spring Tour. A varied program of a cappella choral music will be presented. Admission is free although donations will be accepted.
The Chamber Singers is composed of 20-25 auditioned singers from various departments throughout the University. Repertoire performed by the Eastern Chamber Singers encompasses chamber music from more than four centuries.
The annual Spring Tour allows the Eastern Chamber Singers to share their music beyond the boundaries of the University; enrich the musical lives of audiences both near and far; and enhance the cultural experience for members of the ensemble.
In addition to local appearances throughout Connecticut--including performing with Connecticut's professional choir CONCORA -- members of Eastern's Chamber Singers have visited recent tour destinations such as Montreal, Washington, DC., and Carnegie Hall in New York City, as well as the upcoming performance in Raleigh.
Donations at the door will be used to help fund the Chamber Singers' upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall in 2014.
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University will host the 36th annual College Bowl at 7 p. m. on March 18 in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free. Timothy Swanson, associate professor of physics, will host the show.
The College Bowl is a single elimination competition that consists of teams representing various academic majors on campus. The Biology team and Mathematics team are this year's finalists. In the semi-final matches, The Biology team beat the History Department Team, and The Mathematics Team beat the team of Biochemistry majors.
The winning team will be presented with a "traveling plaque," for display by the winning department for one year. The plaque was made by a member of the first winning team in 1977 and has been presented to winning teams for the past 35 years.
For more information about the show, contact Zosia Carlquist at (860) 465-4317 or email@example.com, or Timothy Swanson at (860) 465-5217or firstname.lastname@example.org.