Commencement Eve Pops returns in virtual format

Doug Osborne-Coy
photo of Broadway in New York City

Tradition and technology will come together as Rockefeller Arts Center presents “The Inspiration of Broadway: Songs of Hope, Optimism and Determination” on Friday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Presented virtually via Rockefeller’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, the free concert marks the return of the traditional Commencement Eve Pops concert, after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic.

“The Inspiration of Broadway: Songs of Hope, Optimism and Determination,” will be modeled after Rockefeller Arts Center’s highly successful “Virtual Alumni Christmas Pops Concert” which was live streamed on Dec. 15 and was viewed by more than 1,200 people.

Rockefeller Arts Center Director Jefferson Westwood said although the Christmas show was a virtual event, it allowed viewers to interact with each other and the performers by an exchange of typed comments using the chat function during the live stream.

“People were able to greet each other and share their thoughts, much like they do in King Concert Hall under regular circumstances,” Mr. Westwood said. “It was nice to be able to facilitate a social activity in a safe way last December and we are looking forward to a similar atmosphere on May. 14.”

The Commencement Eve Pops has always been a collaborative effort, bringing together students and faculty from the School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance under the direction of Mr. Westwood as the producer.

Fredonia Chamber Choir members with Dr. Nick Weiser
Fredonia Chamber Choir with Dr. Nick Weiser (center).

Eight of Fredonia’s most talented student vocalists will be featured in the hour-plus program with solo and group numbers. They are Cameron Clements, Kelly Follette, Joseph Greenan, Ian Hayes, Emily Minch, Avery Norris, Jong Sang Rheu and Joe Russi. Also featured will be three “virtual choir” selections recorded by the Fredonia Chamber Choir directed by Dr. Vernon Huff including "You Will Be Found" from "Dear Evan Hansen" with Dr. Nick Weiser at the piano.

This season, the collaboration has expanded with student videographers from the Department of Communication playing a key role in bringing the concert to life.

Rockefeller Arts Center has employed student videographers for a number of years now in the production of numerous three- to five-minute promotional video clips for events in both the Pops and Walter M. Gloor Mainstage Series.

For “The Inspiration of Broadway: Songs of Hope, Optimism and Determination,” the videographers will take on a bigger role. Each of the concert numbers will be filmed independently. Then the individual clips will be edited together to create a comprehensive concert event.

Included will be songs from “The Sound of Music,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Wicked,” “Man of La Mancha” and many other Broadway favorites.

“The Inspiration of Broadway: Songs of Hope, Optimism and Determination” is a DFT Communications Pops Series event presented as part of the 2020-21 Lake Shore Savings Season.

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