Creativity in the Arts

Court’s Caroline, or Change Wins Raves, Awards

The University’s Court Theatre struck a soulful chord with its production of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, or Change. The musical, which explores race relations in 1960s Louisiana, won Court rave reviews: TheChicago Tribune praised the “emotionally unstinting and thoroughly gripping four-star production,” while Time Out Chicago gave it their first-ever five-star review. The production also won big at 2009’s Jeff Equity Awards, the Chicago equivalent of New York’s Tonys, earning four awards including Best Musical.
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Student Urinetown Brings Alumni Creators to Campus

In conjunction with the Theater & Performance Studies program’s mainstage production of Urinetown, the Tony Award-winning musical’s creators, Mark Hollmann, AB’85, and Greg Kotis, AB’88, came to campus and spoke with students about their experiences in the theater. “Urinetown exists because we’re products of this school,” said Kotis. “There’s a special thing in the water here, . . . something we can bring to our material that someone from a conservatory or a strict theater writing program can’t bring.” Jonathan Berry, another theater professional who counts Chicago’s Steppenwolf and Griffin Theatre Company among his credits, directed the ten-day production. 
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Ensemble-in-Residence Pacifica Earns Grammy

At the 51st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Pacifica Quartet, an ensemble-in-residence in the Department of Music, received a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance of 2008. The string quartet, which has been in residence at UChicago since 1998, was honored for its Naxos recording of Elliott Carter’s String Quartets nos. 1 and 5. The ensemble captured the classical world’s attention in 2002 when it performed all five of Carter’s quartets in a single evening. The second and final CD of the set was released in early 2009.
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Singers Make “Magic” with Pop Star Ben Folds

The campus a cappella group Voices in Your Head caught the attention of pop star Ben Folds, earning them an invitation to perform on Folds’s tour and a cut on his a cappella compilation album. Folds hand-picked the group’s arrangement and recording of his song “Magic” for the 15-track Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! released in April, and featured the group in his March 19 Milwaukee concert. “It puts the listener in a place that’s obviously not the real world,” wrote Folds of “Magic” on his MySpace blog, “but still a hell of a cool place to live for three-and-a-half minutes.” “Magic,” which PhD candidate Chris Rishel arranged for the 12-person singing group, also appears on Voices’ own latest album, Note to Self.
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Ten-Concert Festival Celebrates Composer Messiaen

For 10 days in October, some of the world’s leading musicians and scholars converged to honor a giant in 20th-century music—composer Olivier Messiaen—on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Organized by the University of Chicago Presents, festival events on and off campus tapped into the University’s unique interdisciplinary resources; packed around the concerts were master classes, symposia, and lectures. It was the largest celebration in Messiaen’s honor to take place in North America.
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Artspeaks Brings Prominent Artists to Campus

Three pioneering, interdisciplinary artists—performance artist and writer Guillermo Gómez-Peña, pianist Leon Fleisher, and visual artist Kara Walker—came to campus as University Artspeaks fellows in the 2008–09 season. In addition to presenting their work, the artists engaged in intimate conversations with the campus community through public and student events and workshops. This was the fifth season for the Artspeaks program.
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Students Bring Smart’s Westermann Collection to Light

The University’s Smart Museum of Art presented Your Pal, Cliff: Selections from the H. C. Westermann Study Collection, a comprehensive new exhibition that offered fresh insight into the work and life of the singular postwar American artist. Opening in April, the show brought to light for the first time the full scope of the Smart Museum’s Westermann holdings—one of the most significant public collections of his artwork and related ephemera. Rachel Furnari and Michael Tymkiw, both PhD candidates in art history and Smart Museum curatorial interns, curated.
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Filmmaking Challenges Prompt Creative Expression

Filmmaking on campus got even bigger this year with two challenges inspiring 22 original short films. The student-run Fire Escape Films sponsored its third annual 48 Hour Film Festival, in which 16 teams had two days—and only five hours of camera time—to conceive, shoot, and edit original films. Fire Escape also partnered with the Office of the Vice President for Communications, the Chicago Media Initiatives Group, and the Chicago Studies program to sponsor Chicago IN:60 Seconds, a new annual video competition, where students creatively describe in one minute or less the unique experience that the University’s relationship to the city of Chicago affords. The contest offered a $500 first-place prize and attracted six submissions.
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