UCF Celebrates the Arts to Serve Up Musical Variety

From the classics of Rachmaninoff and Schubert, to the dynamic sounds of the 1960s TV series Batman, to a moving composition honoring last year’s Pulse nightclub victims, there’s something musically for most everyone at next month’s UCF Celebrates the Arts festival.

The performers at the April 7-14 festival will be just as varied, with presentations by university choral groups, orchestras and ensembles, pianists, percussionists, a jazz big band and others at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The School of Performing Arts offerings are some of the many events to be presented at the third annual festival, which is free and open to the public. More than 1,000 university students, 100 faculty members and some collaborative programs with outside partners will showcase the performing arts along with visual arts, studio art, gaming, animation, photography and film.

Phoenix Song, the composition remembering the 49 victims of last summer’s Pulse tragedy in Orlando, was composed by David Brunner, interim associate director of the School of Performing Arts and a professor of music. The lyrics were by Scott Lounsbury, a friend and collaborator of his.

Brunner was asked to write the song for the Orange County High Schools’ all-county chorus, which premiered the piece in January.

The upcoming performance will be with 124 voices from UCF combined choirs at 7:30 p.m. April 9, and then with several hundred singers at 7 p.m. April 11 with invited middle and high school choirs and the UCF Alumni Choir. The middle and high school choirs are all part of a day of workshops presented by music alumni. The performing members of the Alumni Choir are returning from all across the country, some in the choral program as far back as 25 years ago.

“The intention of this song was not only to honor those directly involved in the Pulse nightclub tragedy, but all of us who were affected by it indirectly,” Brunner said. “I attended the observance at Lake Eola a few days after the event and was struck by the very strong feeling that we all realized that we belonged to each other. This sense of belonging, of hopefulness, is quite evident in the piece. I particularly was drawn to the lines ‘sing we our tomorrow’ and ‘we’re healing as we sing.’”

The Flying Horse Big Band also returns to the third annual festival this year to present a program called The Bat Swings!, new arrangements of the music from the 1960s Batman movie and TV show.

Jeff Rupert, director of jazz studies and a Pegasus Professor, said he wanted the student band to play the superhero’s songs after “watching the 1960s movies with my kids and enjoying the background music…It turns out there are a lot of funny and relevant lines from the show that we will draw from for the performance.”

The original theme was composed by Neal Hefti, while the incidental music composed and arranged by Nelson Riddle.

The Flying Horse Big Band will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 14.

Other performances at the festival include:

Piano Extravaganza! – April 8, selections by John Philip Sousa, Franz Liszt and others.

Choral Concert: That Music Always Round Me – April 9, a program that spans culture, times and places as chamber singers, the women’s chorus, university chorus and combined choirs perform songs of histories, heritage, joys and sorrows.

Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band Concert – April 10, music of Bernstein, Gershwin, Sousa, John Williams and others.

Woodwind Ensembles Concert – April 11, featuring performances by flute, clarinet and saxophone ensembles.

Percussion Festival – April 12, a day of workshops and performances culminates in a celebration featuring guest artist Makoto Nakura and the UCF Percussion Ensemble.

An Evening of Cello Celebration – April 13, new UCF cello professor, Si-Yan Darren Li, presents a program of solo and ensemble music spanning three centuries.

Collide Contemporary Music Series: Steve Reich’s Drumming – April 14, a collaboration between UCF Percussion, Voci Dance and Theatre UCF.

This is part of a series of stories about the April 7-14 events at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2017. All events are free, but tickets are required for performances and entrance into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando. Ticketing and full schedule details are athttp://arts.cah.ucf.edu/.