BYU Arts, the umbrella organization in the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications that produces and presents live performances, finished its 2013-2014 season on June 14 with final showings of The Selfish Giant, a play featuring extensive puppetry work, and The Elixir of Love, an Italian opera. The total number of individual music, theatre and dance performances presented during the season numbered more than 460.
Each year, BYU Arts makes hundreds of performances available to BYU and local audiences. These include shows put on by students and staff, as well as visiting professionals. Jeffrey Martin, producer of the BRAVO! guest artist series, said the performances from this last season wouldn’t be possible without collaborative efforts by those on stage and behind the scenes.
“Everyone works so hard. The choirs and orchestras rehearse multiple times each week, students involved in theatre, dance or opera performances rehearse all semester, but people don’t usually hear about that,” Martin said. “It really does take a lot of people and resources to put these programs together. We couldn’t do it without everybody’s support and participation.”
Students performed in several notable productions, including BYU Theatre Ballet’s full-length production of Swan Lake, the Department of Theatre and Media Arts’ new staging of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and theBYU Philharmonic’s concert with acclaimed guest pianist Marc-André Hamelin.
In addition to the student performances,BRAVO! brought more than a dozen professional artists to campus to perform and instruct students. Audiences enjoyed shows by Broadway performer Audra McDonald, Grammy-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn, and TV and filmstar John Lithgow. OFF THE MAP: BYU International Theatre Festivalalso made its debut, receiving extremely positive reviews from attendees. Martin mentioned how visiting performers prove to be invaluable in their contributions to the lives of CFAC students.
“We want our students to interact with professionals who are at the highest level in their careers right now,” Martin said. “I want our students to experience them live in performance and in workshops, so they can ask questions, get to know them and be inspired to do great work themselves.”
Martin shared how the arts and the gospel are intertwined with BYU’s aims and mission.
“It’s the fundamental beliefs of how to create art that inspires and brings light to the world,” Martin said. “We hope that is always reflected in our performances themselves. We’re constantly looking at how we can train our students to be the very best in their disciplines, but bring the light of the gospel into their work.”
As the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center celebrates its 50th anniversary next season,BYU Arts programming will help celebrate BYU accomplishments in the arts.
“We’ll have special performances, exhibitions and lectures all throughout the year, focusing on the legacy of those who got us here and how we’re going to move forward in the future,” Martin said. “I think this new season will provide even more artistic development in our students than the last.”