Celebrating their 35th anniversary, the Redfern Arts Center hosted their annual Season Kickoff Party. The celebration began with a reception and an art exhibit in the Redfern lobby followed by dynamic performances by the Apple Hill String Quartet and the Music Department’s Opera Workshop in the Alumni Recital Hall.
Keene State College faculty member Matthew Leese conducted the Music Department’s Opera Workshop in a scene from the children’s opera, “Brundibar.” The same ensemble will perform in November as a part of the semester long “Voices of Terezin Project”dedicated to the Jewish composers held in the Terezin Nazi camp.
Professor Leese remarked how “Brundibar” features a unique musical blend combining both folk and classical music styles that will appeal to the audience. Leese hopes that the familiar qualities of the music may “remind listeners of music they have heard before.” While “Brundibar” was written during the Holocaust, the scene evokes sentiments of both “joy and darkness in the background.” Concerning the community interest in Holocaust studies at Keene State College, Professor Leese said, “I have never been part of a project with so much importance. There are many different departments on campus that are interested in it and really want every event to be representative of how seriously we take the subject matter around here with the Cohen Center… I feel a heavy burden on my shoulders, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Professor Leese also emphasized the lasting cultural importance of “Brundibar” in today’s society. He explained, “Apart from the fact that there is still anti-Semitism and that alone is enough to perform it, the plot and the script of the opera comments on a lot of different things. Primarily, it comments on the power that adults have over children in demonstrating good behavior or not. I think that message is just as strong as anything else in the piece.”
As his debut conducting at a Redfern Kickoff Party, Professor Leese said he is very “excited to be involved in the great vibe at the party where there is a sampler platter of the upcoming Redfern Arts Center season concerts.”
A guest at the event was junior Olivia Miller.
She remarked, “The Redfern Arts Center offers a space for students to express their art and so much more. People are so passionate about art, which helps students create art.”
Another guest at the party was junior music major Michelle Palmieri.
She emphasized the importance of the Redfern Arts Center as an epicenter for student involvement on campus. The Redfern Arts Center is an excellent on-campus venue for “students to showcase art, music, dance and theater.”
Everyone who attended the event was invited to become a Redfern Arts Center member, which offers benefits such as ticket discounts, preferred seating and invitations to special events throughout the season. A student membership option is also offered to encourage students to attend performances and events.
The political satire group Capitol Steps opens the fall season with “What To Expect When You’re Electing,” followed with performances by dancer Charles “Lil Buck” Riley and cellist Ashley Bathgate. The fall season also features Canadian composer Benoít Charest conducting his own work during the film, “The Triplets of Belleville.”The Redfern Arts Center is also offering a free concert featuring the United States Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors. The fall season concludes with “The Voices of Terezin” project with performances by the Apple Hill String Quartet, Keene State College students and Matthew Leese leading local school children in a performance of “Brundibar.”
Ethan Chalmers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org