Chancellor’s Art Showcase celebrates an intersection of the arts

The Chancellor’s Art Showcase brought together past and present MU arts students to feature talent and hard work.

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The Chancellor’s Art Showcase is a rare opportunity to experience an intersection of the arts across all fronts. On Feb. 28, students from across all schools of art at MU came together to show off their talent and hard work in a show that ranges from choral arrangements to theater performances.

The showcase’s headliner, MU graduate Alicia Olatuja, came to perform as a guest artist. Olatuja has gone on from the MU School of Music to a career in music that has included a performance at former President Barack Obama’s inauguration. She accepted the invitation to perform at her first Chancellor’s Art Showcase wholeheartedly, explaining that MU School of Music has supported her throughout her career.

Olatuja hoped the showcase would provide a new outlook on the music community for the audience.

“I hope the [audience] leave[s] the showcase with a renewed understanding of how valuable and transformative the arts are for the artist and for the community that shares in that experience,” Olatuja wrote in an email.

One of the many highlights of the show was the performance of original compositions by MU junior Ben Rouder. Rouder was awarded the Sinquefield Composition Prize, an accolade that includes the opportunity to have the winner’s work performed at the showcase.

Rouder found inspiration for his compositions in the suffering of Holocaust victims, drawing from inscriptions and letters written by those sentenced to death at Auschwitz. All of the lyrics to his composition are the last words of those victims as written in the heartbreaking letters that he reveals in the showcase program.

Rouder reflected on the importance of recognizing the effects of “unchecked hate” in our society.

“The creation of this piece was never an option for me,” Rouder wrote in the official showcase program. “It was an obligation.”

University Singers President, Dayton Job was especially looking forward to the performance of Rouder’s composition. Job said Rouder created an “emotional journey” through the performance.

“It’s a pretty heavy piece to sing, and I’m excited to see how an audience reacts to it,” Job said.

Job has been part of the University Singers for two years, and this is his first time performing in the Chancellor’s Art Showcase. For Job, the Chancellor’s Art Showcase presents the opportunity for the usually-separated MU programs to come together.

“Once you get into college you have to be on a very focused track in order to get [your] degree,” Job said. “Sometimes the different art programs like musical theater, choral [and] jazz aren’t as collaborative as we’d like them to be.”

He captured the importance and purpose of the showcase in creating a shared experience of the arts at MU.

“This Chancellor’s Art Showcase is an opportunity for us to come together and do what we’re all in it for, which is make music, collaborate and, you know, create a good experience for the people that are there,” Job said.

Edited by Sophie Stephens | sstephens@themaneater.com

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