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Celebrating the arts — and more

Celebrating the arts — and more

Sarina Tacovic March 15, 2022

The Celebration of the Arts is always an exciting time for the University of Dayton when performing arts programs annually showcase their work in a single performance. The event was even more exciting when it returned to the Schuster Performing Arts Center in downtown Dayton March 3 for the first live performance in three years.

“Part of the excitement was that performing at the Schuster Center was a new experience for most of the students,” said Julia Randel, chair of the Department of Music and coordinator of the event. “Since we haven't had the event for the past two years, only seniors had the in-person experience; the other students were totally new to it. When we went into the dress rehearsal, they were looking up at the amazing ceiling of stars in the hall; you could see on their faces how powerful it was for them to be there.”

President Eric F. Spina speaks from a podium on stage at the event.
President Eric F. Spina speaks at the event.


During the pandemic students performed virtually, which stripped the connection and feeling from art performed in live settings. For Valeria Alvarado Berrios, a junior studying music therapy and a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the evening offered the gift of performance to the audience, providing connection and celebration. 

“Performing isn’t just about the artist, it’s about the audience that’s there.”

“Performing isn’t just about the artist, it’s about the audience that’s there,” Alvarado Berrios said. “Our human ears are incredible, they pick up sensations that are really different from what you receive when listening through speakers, especially for people who have a hearing or other disability. Being physically present with the music and the dance, receiving the sound and vibration from an instrument in the room, can be really beneficial for us all.”

Some highlights included a musical number by the Opera Workshop from the upcoming production of the Sound of Music, a collaboration between the Department of Music and the Theatre, Dance and Performance Technology Program. The UD Dance Ensemble and UD Digit Ensemble, which is dedicated to electronic music, premiered their collaborative performance “Unclose Your Eyes,” which will be featured in the OhioDance Festival in Columbus April 29.

Caleb Hoch, a member of the World Music Choir and junior studying education and physics, was a part of another collaboration. Hoch sang in the choir accompanied by the Javenese gamelan ensemble, for the performance of the African American spiritual “All Night All Day.” 

“I sing because I enjoy it, but when you’re performing you’re doing it so that you can share the experience with people and they can enjoy it, too,” Hoch said. “The songs we sing in the World Music Choir mean a lot to different groups of people. Dr. Sharon Davis Gratto, our director, teaches us to think about why we’re singing what we’re singing and to see just how impactful music can be.”

Whether the student is studying music or performing arts, or from another major, students and faculty said performing in the Schuster Center is a great treat since the University does not have a performance venue for large productions. 

That won’t be the case for much longer, as construction is underway for the Roger Glass Center for the Arts, the first University building dedicated to the performing arts. Thanks to a lead gift from Roger Glass ’67, president and CEO of Marion’s Piazza, the center will host live performances, art exhibitions and a media suite, and provide opportunities for deeper collaboration.

Overall, Randel said, Celebration of the Arts was a joy to perform in front of an audience again. 

“We didn’t know how big of an audience to expect after not having the event in-person for a couple years,” Randel said. “Our faculty and students were excited to be back, they had so much that they wanted to share. Having such a good audience that was so enthusiastic and supportive made it incredibly special for everybody.”

Photos by Brigham Fisher.

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