November 11, 2017
Voices, instruments, tapping toes featured in Annual UNCSA Collage

It will be all about collaboration — and timing — when the schools of Music, Design and Production, Drama and Filmmaking at UNC School of the Arts roll out the third annual Collage Concert Nov. 18 at the Stevens Center.

“It’s a very eclectic program,” said Christopher James Lees, the artistic director. “There’s something for everybody, and before you can blink, you’re on to the next thing. It’s like being in a roller-coaster in the relative comfort of the Stevens Center.”

The concert will include selections by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Cantata Singers and Fletcher Opera Institute; solo and small ensemble performances; and the senior class actors; an animated film and an electronic music composition with student-designed LED costumes.

Transitioning from one act to the next is an art form too. “If we didn’t have a top-notch production crew we couldn’t pull it off,” Lees said. “Design and Production walks hand in hand with the performance side.

“The thing that excites me most about Collage is the collaboration among departments.”

Lees will conduct the UNC Symphony in four pieces, including playing an original score to accompany a screening of the 2017 animated film “Supernova,” directed by 2017 Film alumni Gavin Lankford and Aleksandre Kosinski. Alex Umfleet, a 2017 graduate of the School of Music who is working toward a graduate degree in Film Music Composition, wrote the score.

“Eclát,” an original electronic music composition by undergraduate student Kyrie Antoinette provides the sound for LED costumes designed by Trent Pecnicni, a graduate student in the School of Design and Production, and modeled by undergraduate costume designers Lauren Pennebaker and Taylor Newell. It will be performed on a pitch-black stage.

“The music this year is very creative, inventive and high-energy,” Lees said. “There’s a very contemporary bent to the music that the students have chosen. It will feel very fresh.”

The Cantata Singers, conducted by Nathan Zullinger, will perform “Dirait-on” from “Les Chansons des Roses” by Morton Lauridsen, and “Videntes stellam” from Quatre motets pour le temps de Noel by Francis Poulenc.

Besides conducting the singers, Zullinger is an adjunct professor who teaches conducting and is the music director at Highland Presbyterian Church. The Cantata Singers are choral ensemble of UNCSA, composed almost entirely of voice majors with a few composing students and organ majors.

“They do triple duty,” Zullinger said. “Opera scenes at Fletcher, studying voice and doing their own programs of opera scenes, and many of them have parttim church gigs and do regional things.”

Composed of 33 under-gradates and 10 high school students, the singers perform in the chorus when needed by the Fletcher Opera Institute.

“The Poulenc is a mid-20th-century a capella piece,” he said. “It’s very beautiful and serene with some crunchy harmonies (some dissonance and unusual harmonies). It is the story of the Epiphany, the wise men’s visit to the Christ Child.

“It’s challenging for the singers. It really forces them to use their ears, listen to each other and grow as ensemble musicians.

“The ‘Dirait-on’ is a little piece sung in French, a very evocative love song by a contemporary choral composer.”

Zullinger isn’t worried about the transitions.

“The unpredictability of collaboration is a fun thing,” he said. “The transition between pieces and getting them to seamlessly flow — Chris Lees is a master of making those things work.”

There are a total of 25 acts on the program.

“I assemble the pieces of the puzzle,” Lees said. “It’s labor intensive to figure out what goes with what and where, but the audience won’t be able to see the seams.”

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