COLLAGE: Students and faculty take the audience on a musical journey

Posted on September 15, 2022

An orchestra and choir fill the stage for the 2019 COLLAGE at UNC Greensboro.

The word “collage” inspires an image of diversity, variety, and collaboration — many little pieces coming together to form one beautiful piece of art. It is fitting, therefore, that “Collage” is the name for a show that will bring together 300 UNC Greensboro students and faculty for an immersive musical spectacle.

The School of Music will present COLLAGE on Saturday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the UNCG Auditorium.

“It’s one of those opportunities that somebody who comes to the concert can hear a little bit of almost everything we offer in the School of Music,” says Associate Director of Choral Activities Dr. Carole Ott Coelho, the producer of COLLAGE. “They hear little bits of just about everything.”

COLLAGE is also a fundraiser for the School of Music. Proceeds from donations and ticket sales go to the Collage Scholarship Fund to support students’ studies and creative work.

Students share a similar benefit, experiencing the variety of music that the University teaches, beyond their individual concentration. Undergraduate and doctoral students all perform. Ott Coelho says, “It really brings our community in the school together at the beginning of the year.”

Swept away by the wind

Student Charles Norris plays the flute.
Charles Norris

COLLAGE will feature performances from a variety of faculty and students, including a new faculty side-by-side conducted by Director of Bands Dr. Jonathan Caldwell.

One of the recurring acts is a student composition. This year, Associate Professor of Flute Dr. Erika Boysen will perform “The Forlorn Wind.” It was written by one of her students, Charles Norris, who is getting his master’s in music composition.

“I wrote a solo work that includes a poem that I wrote,” he says. “It is comprised of three sections, each characterized by each stanza of the poem.”

Norris says it’s meant to make the audience feel as if they are going on a journey. “I hope they can let themselves be swept away for a moment. I want audiences to feel themselves as the ebb and flow of a perpetual wind, and to understand the emotion of solitude.”

Five singers in fancy dress perform at the 2019 COLLAGE at UNCG.

There is an ebb and flow to the entire program. It’s designed to move seamlessly from one musical piece to the next with no pauses in between. The performers are set up all around the stage and even in the auditorium house, with lights designed by Auditorium Production Manager James Goins leading the audience to the next act.

With 300 performers, as well as the technical crew, it’s up to Ott Coelho to keep them all organized onstage and behind the scenes.

“We also have to be very conscious of the flow of things backstage,” she says. “When everyone follows the map, then it works. It’s exciting to feel the energy of all those creative minds.”

Fostering curiosity, creativity, and a sense of presence

Pianist plays at the 2019 COLLAGE at UNCG.

As a professor, Ott Coelho wants to foster an environment where students have room to push their limits. “I want them to really explore their individual creativity and to get past whatever barriers they carry with them. That requires presence and awareness. COLLAGE is an exercise in presence and awareness. They have to be completely connected to the beginning, the end, and everything in between.”

She adds, “What I aspire for them is the opportunity, while they’re developing that curiosity and creativity, to experience a lot of different things, and observe how those experiences affect them and their artistic output.”

Musical experiences matter greatly to students such as Norris. “Writing music is my passion,” he says. His dream career is a freelance composer, and he wants to work with universities and schools around the world.

“I love the chance to spread my music to a larger audience and allow others to experience music in a new way.”

Story by Janet Imrick, University Communications
Photography by and courtesy of Charles Norris

Four students playing cello in orchestra.

Fine-tune your music goals at UNCG

Long recognized as one of the top music institutions in the United States, the UNCG School of Music offers the only comprehensive degrees in music education and music performance in the State of North Carolina, from the undergraduate level through doctoral study.


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