School of Music PRISM showcase



The UNI School of Music is presenting their second PRISM Showcase which displays collaboration between students and faculty.


On Monday, April 23, UNI’s School of Music will present their second PRISM Showcase in the Great Hall of the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) at 7:30 p.m. The performances are free and open to the public.

The event is coordinated by Cayla Bellamy and Jesse Orth, the assistant professor of bassoon and the instructor of tuba and euphonium, respectively.

“We had talked about the need for the School of Music to have an event that was collaborative with students and faculty, particularly with chamber music, which is something that a lot of the students and faculty are really interested in,” Bellamy said. “But it’s not really required for a degree program at this point.”

According to Bellamy, chamber music means there is more than one person performing, but not so many that the performance requires a conductor. It can include any instrument, but each person involved must be actively playing music.

Part of the concept of the showcase is that there are seamless transitions between acts. Rather than allowing time for introductions before performances and applause afterward, each performance quickly starts after another one finishes. Performers will be set up not only on the stage of the Great Hall, but also in the balcony.

“It goes so much faster, because we don’t think about how much time we spend letting our attention wane while people are applauding,” Bellamy said. “If you go to a concert and time it, it’s probably half the program — at least a third of it is stage changes and people clapping. When you eliminate all of that, you get a lot more bang for your buck towards the musical experience.”

The night will feature a variety of instruments and musical genres.

“We put out a mass call to […] whatever chamber groups might exist or might want to exist — we’d like to know what you’d like to play,” Orth said. “We give them a time limit — seven or eight minutes — so it’s nothing taking up half the program […] Some people do an entire short piece or maybe one movement from a larger work.”

Bellamy will be collaborating with instructor of voice Michelle Monroe to perform three songs based on what are described by composer Beverly McLarry as the lighter works of Edgar Allen Poe. After their performance, B.Y.O Brass will be closing the show with a medley that includes a “Ballad of the Eagle Claw,” “Funkytown” and “I Feel Good.”

“They’re very much in the style of Lucky Chops, which is one of the most recent internet YouTube brass bands,” Orth said. “It’s kind of jazz, funk music, really loud in your face, lots of fun party style music. I think they’re going to put on a really good show to close the program out.”

Gerardo Gomez, a junior majoring in music education with an emphasis in jazz studies, will be playing tenor saxophone in B.Y.O. Brass, as well as alto saxophone in the Uncharted Combo, which will be covering Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing).”

The Uncharted Combo will be performing alongside tap dancer Cheyanne Chapin. According to Gomez, the creative risk of including a tap dancer during their performance was one major reason the Uncharted Combo signed up for the PRISM Showcase.

“It showcases Cheyenne. It showcases, really, everybody,” Gomez said. “It’s a swing tune. It’s upbeat. Everyone likes that kind of fast music that makes you want to dance, and it’s also entertaining to listen to and watch.”

Orth will be performing John Stevens’ “Music 4 Tubas” as part of the Low End Quartet. He is the only player in the quartet who is a faculty member.

“It’s hard as a professional tuba player to live close enough to three other professional tuba players to actually put a group together like that,” Orth said. “So, when I have a really strong group of students, I like to put them together and perform with them. It’s a really great chance for them to perform with me and for me to have an ensemble that’s good enough to do some of this really challenging music.”

Some of the other ensembles will be playing art songs, including one that was composed by professor of theory and composition Jonathan Schwabe. There will be a classic four-hands piano piece. The Hot Flute ensemble will be playing a Latin-jazz inspired piece. Hot Flute will also feature a contrabass flute.

Bellamy and Orth hope that the PRISM Showcase becomes an annual event at UNI.

“Shows like this are not common. The fact that the School of Music in Iowa is attempting something like this is kind of deep in and of itself,” Gomez said. “This concert not only showcases the best of classical and jazz, but the best that we have here of pop, funk, R&B. It’s going to be something that’s delightful for the audience to enjoy, because we all want them to have fun.

“If [the audience] takes anything out of this concert, I want them to leave saying, ‘That was really fun, and I enjoyed it, and I want to come back.’ If there’s no context behind that statement, then we didn’t do our job,” Gomez said. “We really just want them to enjoy themselves.”

Those who are unable to make it to the Great Hall can watch the live stream on the School of Music’s website.