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The Heavenly Strings

The heavenly strings that pulled my heart so perfectly and unexpectedly.

Written by Jackie Dominguez De Paz

            In a world where everyone is in a hurry, it feels like one never gets the time to close their eyes, stop for a while and think. To think about everything that life has thrown at us but we have never taken the time to fully understand. A one hour cello performance by Jonathan Swensen allowed me to reflect on my thoughts that have been suppressed for so long.

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Somi introduces other musicians on her team.

Somi: How Music As An Art Can Be A Strong Form Of Activism

Though activism in the traditional sense can involve rallies, protests, and other forms of civil disobedience, Somi showed us through her performance that music can also be a strong force in telling stories aimed at making a difference.

The Event as a Performance

What stood out to me was the fact that Somi sang her first song before introducing herself. Having been to a couple of concerts in the past, I thought this was an interesting storytelling mechanism. By doing this, she intrigued me: her music was interesting but who was she? Though this practice wouldn’t count as direct engagement, it certainly made me more curious as a member of the audience.

I would describe her performance as a collection of culturally-influenced songs that shed light on the injustices that happen around the world. But more generally, I would say her performance was means of connecting more deeply with her audience in the discussion of those injustices.

To form this connection, Somi touches on common touchpoints with the audience (including talking about her early life living in Urbana-Champaign). Additionally, her mention of social issues that we all are aware of (e.g. race relations as it relates to immigrant families or Harlem’s contribution to African-American culture) further reinforces the connection.

Her support staff of musicians adds additional diversity to the performance, which allows us to see various perspectives from the different instruments at play.

Engaging With the Other Musicians

Somi clearly has a great relationship with the other musicians, as she has an amazing rapport with everyone and introduces them several times, thanks them for being present, and gives almost everyone an opportunity to play a solo.

Somi introduces other musicians on her team.
Somi introduces other musicians on her team.

In doing so, Somi is walking the talk as it relates to diversity (racially and instrumentally) and makes the audience feel like she, as an artist, is just as inclusive as her music is.

The Songs — and Deeper Meanings

Though you could generally classify her music to be jazz, primarily on the slower side, the performance was pretty diverse from a melodic standpoint. Some songs excluded certain instruments while others had those same instruments play significant roles in the song.

But more importantly, every song told a story. Whether it was Somi acknowledging Harlem’s role in shaping African-American culture or dedicating a song to her mother, Somi’s music allowed us to get a deeper look at who she really was.

Additional to that feature of her music is her apparent ambition to drive social change. For instance, her song “Two Dollar Day” gave us a glimpse into the relationships between people and their governments — and just how fragile humanity really is in the wake of financial hardship.

So, most fundamentally, her music speaks about the human condition: we’re all different in some ways but we’re also similar in more ways — and have many relatable experiences — that we initially think about.

What Struck Me

I think what struck me most was how engaged the audience was. Of course, jazz isn’t everyone’s go-to genre, but the audience seemed to be intrigued by the stories that Somi told so much so that it considered music as simply the medium to get those stories across.

It’s the first time I’ve thought about music as a tool for storytelling and I think it was a good experience to listen to Somi prove that thesis.

Step-Afrika! and How We Are The Drumfolk

By Jacob M. Rominger

In a moving homage and celebration of the African-American story in the United States, Step Afrika!: Drumfolk, connects the modern practices of beatboxing and hip hop to the Stono slave revolt and the related importance of drum beats to the culture of those persons who, once held in bondage, risked everything for a chance at freedom and justice.

A children’s program ahead of the stage.
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The eccentric student finally makes it to the end.

By: Basith A. Syed

I started the semester not knowing what classes I would take so I just looked for classes that filled some gen-ed requirements. I found FAA110 which I thought was unique and the professor reviews on “rate my professors” were amazing. I decided to sign up for the class and in all honesty, I have never had any professors that were so generous, passionate and supportive.

In terms of the class, it was pretty straightforward and the syllabus was on point. I went into the class thinking it would be like theater class that I took in high school because for that class we had to go to the theater shows almost every week and we would just talk about the history of theatre. However, It was nothing like my high school class it was more about our experiences, what we enjoyed, share our thoughts about live performances and discuss arts that we never think about. Such as the architecture of your house, and think about things that you never cared about such as nanny cams.

All in all, I learned a lot from this class and helped me find a passion I never would have discovered otherwise. I am really grateful that I had the opportunity to take a class with professors that are so humble and down to earth. I will continue going to Krannert shows because it gives you the opportunity to forget everything going on around you and just enjoy a couple hours in heaven.

Some of the events in Krannert that I had the pleasure of attending.

UI Symphony Orchestra

Ticket to UI Symphony Orchestra.

UI Jazz Band

Live jazz performance at Krannert

Carol Concert

Book all carols performed by the choir during the 2019 carol concert.

Opera Scenes

My favorite scene performed in the opera show.

Makeup – Straight to the heart Orchestra.

By: Basith A. Syed

My Admission ticket which didn’t have a seat number on it.

I am not the type of person that listens to jazz or any orchestra songs and all of a sudden listening to something so odd is so soothing and gives me the feelings. Today, I had the opportunity to watch a show from two different views because we didn’t have assigned seats and share it with one of my friends.

It’s one of the pamphlets that we got before entering the theatre.

Again, at the start of the show, we were told not to take pictures during the show. However, I was able to take a picture right before they said that.

The one picture I was able to take before the show started off the orchestra in foellinger great hall.

Overall, I enjoyed the music and all the different musical instrument that were being used to create all types of beats. If I were, to sum up, the feeling in words I would describe it as the same feeling as you get when you know you did something so good that you are being awarded and you are waiting for that award.

Makeup- Fun night out watching Opera Senses!

By: Basith A. Syed

For those of you reading this blog and don’t know what opera senses are, they are a collection of acts from musical operas. In this show, I had the pleasure of watching twelve students how we’re extremely talented singers and dedicated to putting on a truly spectacular show without any hiccups.

Since this show was free there was no ticket.

I was fortunate enough to share this experience with one of my best friends from High school. He was so enticed by the performance he agreed to watch another live performance the following day. I wish I was able to take pictures but unfortunately, a lady sitting next to us told us to put our phone away and no pictures were allowed.

My favorite scene and the list of the participants.

I am going to try my best, to describe my favorite scene. In this sense, there were six women all wearing black and were performing various dances while trying to portray being wives of some cruel bozo who divorced three of his wife’s and “beheaded” two of his wife’s. The scene comes to an end when the sixth wife tells the audience how she escaped.

Overall the scenes were short and gave you all types of feeling from a few being funny, sad and cheerful. I truly enjoyed it and it isn’t a bad idea to watch the opera scenes with a date because it was an emotional rollercoaster.

Makeup- Classic Carol Concert truly flawless!

Author: Basith A. Syed

The Carol Concert Book with all the carols.

In an environment where I started smoking, drinking and parting every day it was extremely cathartic being able to experience a flawless performance. I know everyone is entitled to there own opinion and their experience. This blog is solely going to be my experience and how the performance affected me.

My favorite carol and by far the most splendid poetry I heard from the book of Carols.

There are many reasons why I enjoyed this performance. First of all, I was given a free ticket at the ticket booth and I didn’t even have to identify my self. And as we were waiting to get into the show I met Catlin who is extremely pretty and was so down to earth and I had an amazing voice.

For me personally, I really enjoyed the show emotionally and it meant a lot to me seeing the performers and the audience be so dedicated to singing the carols. Furthermore, I felt so guilty about all the promises that I had broken, all the money I spent on useless things, people that I let down and for wasting a year of my life to instant gratification. And as I was listening to “O Come, All ye faithful” I had this epiphany that was telling me to straighten out my priorities and it is never too late to change. For me, I will never forget this Carol and I will most certainly go to another one whenever I am feeling hopeless.

Unfortunately, I was told not to take pictures but this is how the stage looked.

A Sad Sayonara to FAA 110

I have seen so many great shows and museum exhibits this semester and I don’t want to say goodbye!

Written by Catherine Webber

At the beginning of this semester, I was at a bit of a crossroads. I had come back from summer knowing that I wanted to switch from Early Childhood Education to something else. I just knew that wasn’t what I wanted anymore. Therefore, I drastically dropped all my classes and switched to English, which I now love. However, with my change I had to pick up more hours and I just didn’t know what class to take. I went around asking friends and they all recommended one class to me: FAA 110. They said I would be able to see awesome shows for free on-campus and be exposed to so many new and different things, safe to say: I was sold. I have really enjoyed this class this semester and can’t wait to come back next semester and see more great and thought-provoking shows and exhibits.

1. Pat Metheny Rocked the House

2. Eric Andre Leaves Little to the Imagination

3. Drop Dead Gorgeous Drag Queens

4. Hearty House Show in Colorado

5. Chopin Showcase Does Not Disappoint

6. Still Beginning Challenges What We Think We Know

7. Jazz Drives Audience to Jive

8. TANGO at KAM

I had such a great time this semester in this class, and I know that if any of my friends come to me with class recommendations I will surely lead them to FAA 110! Thank you for a great semester!

Makeup- Is Jazz dying?

Author: Basith A. Syed

The UI Repertory Jazz Orchestra is a music show organized and performed by the University of Illinois students and sponsors. All the music that was performed and sung were from the Big Band Era, jazz golden age from 1910-1940.

You are able to use e-ticket in order to get.

When was the last time you listened to a jazz song? Exactly… I was skeptical about going into the show but in the back of my head, I was thinking it would be like a musical and I would walk out with a story. In this blog, I would like to share my experience with my very first jazz show and Krannert Center. I had no issue with parking so I parked my car on the street walked in. There were multiple shows starting at 7:30 so it was hectic babies crying and toddlers running around which made me think that the show cant that bad if people from all age groups are going to watch it. But, when I got to the theater that had the jazz show I realized that there was no line and it was exceptionally quiet. So I walked up and showed the attended my e-ticket and walked in.

The audience was filled with seniors and the stage was level with the ground.

Upon entering the theater, I was greeted with a bunch of old people and a couple of students in there mid 20’s. I walked in and just sat in the back and exactly at 7:30 the host greeted us and introduced us to what songs he would play.

The performers were playing over the rainbow.

So the show started with a couple of songs with no vocals which I personally didn’t like it because the beat was outdated and then transitioned to happy songs. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the names of the songs because it was the first time listening to jazz songs from the 1940s. An hour into the show I was regretting coming to this show because that is not the type of music I listen to. But, when they started playing “sad songs” it got so emotional. It was so clear what the lyrics meant and it made me realize how most of the songs today just promote drugs, sex, and money. I was just sitting there and got this feeling you get when u realize you are missing out on something so pure that makes you question why people stopped listening to jazz. My favorite song that I listened to after the show was “Over the rainbow”. If you never been to a jazz show then I strongly recommend giving it a try.

Tiger

Jack Xiao

Tiger

Wild Tiger, the most abundant species among the Felidae, is an endangers species now. Deke Weaver, a writer-performer, designer, theater, and media artist, traveled to central India’s Pench National Park, which is one of India’s last sanctuaries for wild tigers and many other areas, such as the edge of the Bay of Bengal. After these travel experiences, Deke Weaver build a performance that shows a connection between animals and people.

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