Tag Archives: Somi

Final Self-Reflection of Art in Motion FAA 110

Written by Weon Taek Na

As I searched for a last course to fill my general education requirement, I wanted the course to be special. I wanted a course that I gave me a hands on experience outside of the typical engineering courses that I took. A close friend of mine suggested FAA 110 as such a course, and I am so glad that she did. FAA 110 became the favorite class that I took at University of Illinois. I had very little knowledge nor experience in arts and I was able to enjoy the amazing performances and museums that were held at our university.

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The Final Blog: A Semester in Review

Written By: Zackarya Faci

Let me start off by saying this has been the most enjoyable course I have taken in all my four years here at the university. I was able to explore the arts and earn a new appreciation for them–something engineering students don’t often find themselves doing. I looked forward to coming to class, since we were always either doing a cool activity or taking an interesting tour, and spend my evenings in the Krannert Center. Sadly, we were not able to spend the entire semester together due to COVID-19, but I was still able to explore beautiful performances online through Digital Theatre+. Here’s a recap of the performances seen throughout the semester:

The Butterfly Lovers

The first performance we saw as a class was The Shanghai Ballet performing “The Butterfly Lovers” at the start of the Chinese New Year. I had never seen a ballet prior and was half-expecting to be bored by the event. However, that was definitely not the case. I was enamored by how well they were able to tell a story without ever saying a single word. The skillful movements and intentional lighting were enough to convey the exact emotions felt onstage.

Drumfolk

The next performance, by Step Afrika!, I enjoyed even more. They brought history to life with the their percussive talents. With a simple stage and intriguing costume design, it was easy to focus on what the performers wanted us to see.

Somi

Somi is a Jazz musician who performed some songs from her recent album. I never really listened to Jazz music before, so I am glad I attended this performance. Somi’s songs were so soothing yet powerful all at the same time. She also sang about some issues that were important to me.

Anna Deavere Smith

Seeing Smith perform was a bit of a curve ball to me. I was not sure what to expect when heading to this performance. It was not like any of the other performances we have seen; this was a one-woman show. She recreated interviews she conducted and did so with a lot of emotion. While being funny, yet serious, her impersonations of her interviewees sold the show.

Cabaret

The night of Unofficial the class attended Cabaret–which was very fitting. Cabaret was a comedic, scandalous musical set in 1930s Germany. Many scenes were risqué, but honestly it was refreshing to see a performance that was more adult-oriented. This was also the first performance I’ve seen that had subtitles above the stage–something I found very interesting.

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice was the first performance I viewed online after in-person classes were postponed. It was a witty comedy that touched upon some serious topics. I read the play in high school so it was nice to revisit it and see how the performance compared to simply reading the play.

The Container

The Container was a very unique performance. Being performed in a shipping container with low light really set the mood for the entire performance. The choice to perform in a shipping container was ingenious, and I wish I could have been there to see it performed live. The story was already compelling and sincere as is, but being there in person would have been a whole new level of immersion.

Metamorphosis

The final performance I viewed this semester was Metamorphosis. This was definitely a wacky one. The movements by the performers were flamboyant and exaggerated–fitting with the peculiar story. The performance was also in Japanese, so I had to follow along with subtitles. Metamorphosis opened my mind to watch other forms of media that may not be in a language I understand.

Closing Thoughts

A sincere thank you goes out to Dr. Collins and Prof. Robinson. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this class, but I took away more than I could have ever asked for. They always had so much energy and never failed to brighten up my day. They also helped us explore the arts in ways a typical class could never. Thank you for helping me explore performances I probably would have never seen on my own. Thank you for making my final semester a great one! 🙂

Final Reflections: A Lovely Time

By: Jacob M Rominger

I decided to end my college career exploring what only the University of Illinois could provide: an experience exploring the culture and arts of the University’s feature facilities like the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Spurlock Museum. I lamented being cut short of the fun times I was having, but I am happy I got to take part. Dr. Collins and Dr. Robinson provided a course that broadened my horizons, taking me to performances I may not have otherwise. This stayed true into the pandemic as I was directed to online performances to compliment my education. My classmates were friendly and fun. My brief encounters with them are ones I treasure immensely and some of what I miss the most in this isolation we all suffer through today.

Original photo I took at the Shanghai Ballet

Somi: A Refreshing Story told through Jazz

On Valentine’s Day, Somi sung songs from her previous albums at the Krannert Center.

Written by Weon Taek Na

My ticket and description book to Somi
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An Emotional Musical Performance by Somi

Laura Kabasomi, or Somi, speaks and sings from the heart as she entertains the audience with stories and music inspired by her African heritage.
-By Daniel Holley

The stage is set as the audience files in for the show.

This performance was as much about music as it was about a story. Between musical performances with her talented ensemble, Somi spoke to the audience about what inspires her to write and sing. As a child of African immigrants, clashing cultures and racial tension has always been a challenge for her. However, she finds strength in her heritage, and uses it to connect in similar situations. As a current resident of Harlem, New York, the largely African community helps her establish confidence in her identity, and this confidence is apparent in her powerful vocals.

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Somi : the best jazz performance I’ve ever watched

On the evening of Valentine’s Day on February 14, Somi’s performance was held at Colwell Playhouse in Krannert center.

By Aejin Shin

concert tickets

Somi, the daughter of immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, was born in Illinois, where the show was performed. She is a very famous vocalist and composer. Her songs have very special theme – the stories of African immigrants in New York’s Harlem.

She told a story before performing. This was a very effective way to get the audience engaged. Also, these introductions and backgrounds also took place in between songs. When perfoming, it felt like she was directly communicating with me. She also naturally included the audience in her performance.

setting of the stage before the performance begins

Somi’s performance consisted of Somi and her band. They showed great chemistry. The band made her song more exciting. Different types of musical instruments were used, and the techniques of the performers were different song by song.

Somi introduced musicians from her team during the performance. The thing I was impressed with was that Somi showed a very deep respect to her band. In fact, this kind of performance is usually performed mainly by vocalists. But Somi shared the spotlight with her band members resulting in most musicians getting a chance to play solo. They looked like true friends, not just partners.

Standing ovation after the performance

She sang various kinds of songs. The day of the concert was Valentine’s Day, and there were songs about oppressions, Harlem, and so on, including a love song centered around Valentine’s Day. She sometimes screamed and sometimes sang in a sweet voice. She led the performance skillfully. I admired her professionalism. Due to my native language not being English, sometimes I couldn’t fully understand her message. However, her music clearly contained a message easy to follow. Even if I couldn’t fully understand the lyrics, her performance helped fill the gaps.

If you’re more curious about Somi and her performance, you can visit Somi’s site for more information.

Somi: The Refashioning Jazz With A Homecoming Night

Written by Zeying Lang

Somi. (https://krannertcenter.com/events/somi)

This is a homecoming performance. As the music plays, memories flowing by. Born in Champaign, Illinois, the outstanding artist Somi is the first generation of immigrants from Uganda and Rwanda. Tonight, at her home town, with the fantastic jazz band, she tells her stories in her music about growing up as a descendant with African heritage.

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Somi: Being Present & Bringing Cultures Together

Somi, an Urbana-Champaign native, performed in the Colwell Playhouse at KCPA on February 14, 2020. Her jazz performance sent a prominent message about being present and told a story of the diverse, culture-rich Harlem.

Written By Zackarya Faci

From the moment Somi stepped on stage there was nothing but positive vibes in the air. She prefaced the performance with a little background about herself; she would even ask the audience questions and build off that engagement. One could easily tell she was being genuine and sincere as her bright smile and cheerful laugh filled the performance hall. Somi is of Ugandan and Rwandan decent and grew up in Champaign, but she has since moved to New York. The songs she performed were from her latest album “Petite Afrique” (meaning little Africa in French), which pertains to the microcosm that is Harlem.

Somi receiving a well deserved standing ovation
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Somi: A Jazzy Journey

By Jacob Rominger

Somi. a local of Champaign-Urbana, gives a world class performance at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Event: https://krannertcenter.com/events/somi

The stage which the band performed upon. Notice there are no brass instruments in this Jazz band
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Local Talent: Somi Emitting Power and Love

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Statue outside the Colwell Playhouse
Stage before performance began
Event Program

For Valentine’s Day, I had the pleasure of attending Somi’s performance at The Krannert Center for Performing Arts. Prior to this event, all I knew was that Somi was a jazz artist from Champaign-Urbana. I had never attended a Jazz performance so I had no idea what to expect. Her performance was breathtaking. She set a really high standard for the future Jazz performances I will see. Her voice and storytelling were beautiful and the musicians accompanying her were extremely talented. It was also exciting to hear her sing in French because I don’t get to practice my French very often.

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