Author: Ed Berthiaume

“Prom Night in Mississippi” to get screening, discussion at Warch Cinema

Prom Night in Mississippi was released in 2008, a partnership between director Paul Saltzman and actor Morgan Freeman. It tells the story of a small Mississippi high school holding an integrated prom for the first time. (Photo courtesy of Moving Beyond Prejudice)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Paul Saltzman, the director of Prom Night in Mississippi, a 2008 documentary about racism and race relations in a small town in Mississippi, will visit Lawrence University next week for a showing and discussion of the film.

The documentary, created in partnership with Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Warch Campus Center Cinema, followed by a discussion with Saltzman.

Prom Night in Mississippi was made more than 40 years after Saltzman had participated in voter registration work with the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) during the summer of 1965, witnessing the segregation of the south up close and personal. He said he returned to Mississippi in 2007 to see how — or if — race relations had progressed.

That led to a meeting with Freeman, who had returned to live near his childhood home in Charleston, Mississippi, population 2,000. Morgan would tell Saltzman a seemingly improbable story. The high school in Charleston, in 2007, still held two proms — one for white students, one for black students.

More: Black Excellence Ball, Cultural Expressions highlight People of Color Empowerment Week

A decade earlier, Freeman had offered to pay all costs if the school would unite the two proms, open to all students. The school turned him down.

When they met, Saltzman asked Freeman if he’d be interested in revisiting that offer for the 2008 prom. Saltzman would come along with his camera to document the process from start to finish.

Freeman said yes, leading to the making of Prom Night in Mississippi.

The documentary weaves together student-made videos, interviews, and intimate moments with students, school officials, parents, and Freeman.

“I live here,” Freeman tells a group of seniors at the school. “I think it is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of, that in this time … you children are being brought up this way. It hurts me deeply.”

Most students at the school seem to approve of the integrated prom, but a group of white parents move ahead to plan their own whites-only prom. They refuse to be interviewed for Saltzman’s film.

The integrated prom is held that spring, and it is well received, marking what Saltzman called a turning point for the town.

“Many of the senior students, black and white, impressed me with their openness and awareness,” Saltzman said at the time. “Their courage to attend their first mixed prom and to share their feelings about race gives me hope that we are indeed heading in the right direction.”

Using this film as a catalyst, Saltzman and fellow producer Patricia Aquino later created Moving Beyond Prejudice, a nonprofit that works with young people and their communities to shine a light on prejudice and promote inclusion.

The Feb. 25 showing in the Warch Cinema is free of charge. A discussion will follow. The program is in conjunction with Black History Month and is co-sponsored by Lawrence’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Diversity and Intercultural Center.

Bonus: While on campus next week, Saltzman also will speak about another passion — the Beatles. He’s published two books on the band, The Beatles in Rishikesh and The Beatles in India. His talk at 11:10 a.m. Feb. 24 in Harper Hall is titled, The Beatles in India and How I Met the Beatles.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Black Excellence Ball, Cultural Expressions add to February celebrations, discussions

Singing, dancing, and much more will again be part of the annual Cultural Expressions celebration, set for Feb. 29 in Warch Campus Center.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Lawrence University’s Black Student Union (BSU) will host events each of the next two weekends that honor Black History Month and celebrate people of color on campus and beyond.

The second annual Black Excellence Ball will be held Saturday, Feb. 22. It is a formal dance used as a way to showcase the beauty and elegance that is racially diverse people. It is open to all racially diverse people and allies.

This year’s Excellence Ball is themed All That Jazz and will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center.

The following weekend, Cultural Expressions, an annual talent showcase, will be held Feb. 29, beginning at 7 p.m., also in Warch. It’ll be preceded by a dinner in the Diversity and Intercultural Center in Memorial Hall at 6 p.m. and an art gallery display in Warch at 6 p.m.

Cultural Expressions has become a February tradition at Lawrence, one of the highlights of winter term.

More: Prom Night in Mississippi to get screening, discussion in Warch Cinema

The Excellence Ball was added last year, joining with Cultural Expressions to provide bookends to a People of Color Empowerment Week on campus. Empowerment Week is organized by AIO in collaboration with Alianza, Beta Psi Nu, BSU, Diversity and Intercultural Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and SOUP.

Among the events happening during Empowerment Week: Kickoff dinner at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Diversity and Intercultural Center; Mariposas Del Alma, a Los Angeles-based band representing the Latinx communities, performing at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Warch; a screening (and discussion) of the 2008 documentary, Prom Night in Mississippi, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in Warch Cinema; a Brown Girl Recovery Workshop at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Diversity and Intercultural Center; Cooking for COTS from 4 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 in Sabin House; and comedian Jasmine Ellis performing at 8 p.m. Feb. 28 in Warch. Also, the Cultural Expressions Art Gallery will be on display from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 28 in Warch.

Cultural Expressions will serve as the finale for the big week. It annually features a bevy of Lawrence students performing everything from music and dance to spoken word and comedy. 

Admission for all of the student-organized events is free.

Awa Badiane is a student writer in the Communications office.

Familiar power struggles in play as Lawrence’s “Richard III” hits the stage

Chris Follina ’20, as Richard III, rehearses with Alec Welhouse ’23, as the Duke of Buckingham, during a dress rehearsal for “Richard III” in Cloak Theatre. The Lawrence Department of Theatre Arts production runs Feb. 20-22. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

History has a way of repeating itself.

As a Lawrence theater and English double major who is doing her Senior Experience in conjunction with the Department of Theatre Arts’ production of Richard III, Haley Stevens ’20 hopes audience members remember that famous adage as they watch the action unfold this week on the Cloak Theatre stage.

Written almost 400 years ago, it might not initially be obvious how the themes and content of Richard III could be relevant to a modern audience. But when looking at today’s political climate, some of Richard III’s key plot points—betrayal, power struggles and rumor campaigns, to name a few—may not seem so foreign, she said.

“I want the audience to feel like this is weirdly familiar, like unexpectedly familiar,” Director Timothy X. Troy said, echoing Stevens’ assessment. “It’s not necessarily a happy thought. It happens every day in rehearsal as we’re working our way through scenes. We’re like, man, that just happened last week. … But that’s true of all great literature. Each era finds its way into it. These were people who lived through a tumultuous time. And guess who we are?”

For the cast and crew of Shakespeare’s Richard III, the past five weeks of rehearsal are finally coming to fruition. Set to open on Thursday night, Richard III will be performed in Cloak Theatre at 8 p.m. Feb. 20–22, with an additional 3 p.m. matinee Feb. 22.

With an abridged script that has condensed the original four-hour play into 90 minutes of action, the production, subtitled “I am Myself, Alone,” tackles the challenge of analyzing the choices individuals make, both in a historical context and today.

Carly Beyer ’22, as Queen Elizabeth, rehearses with Ben Carlick ’20, as Dorset, during a dress rehearsal for “Richard III” in Cloak Theatre.

The production tells the story of Richard III, an English nobleman who will do virtually anything to ensure his rise to the throne following a 30-year civil war—no matter the cost. In order to condense the play to 90 minutes, an effort spearheaded by Olivia Gregorich ’17 and Troy, the team had to choose one primary thematic point of view to depict in depth. Settling on the concept of human agency and the factors that restrict it, this production explores the challenging idea of how individuals can make the best decisions for themselves when their options are inherently limited.

Although this concept can easily be understood by a modern audience, placing it in its proper historical context adds an additional level of depth to the production. This historical understanding was enhanced in 2012, when the body of the real Richard III was discovered and exhumed.

As part of the first generation of productions of Richard III since then, the production team has been able to rediscover the play and utilize information about Richard III that previously could not have been confirmed. Having this new knowledge allows the team to explore the production in a new light.

First, it is now confirmed that Richard III truly had a disability, which had previously only been rumored. Christopher Follina ’20, the actor who plays Richard and a theater and religious studies double major doing this production for his Senior Experience, also has a disability, which allows for a more influential and nuanced interpretation of Richard’s character, according to Troy.

Written only a few generations following the real events that occur in the play, original Elizabethan audiences would have been able to recognize the character of Richmond as their queen’s grandfather and would likely have had grandparents who fought in the civil war.

“It’s kind of the equivalent of watching a play around Vietnam or World War II,” Stevens said. “It’s something that happens even now when we’re generations removed from great conflict and then a play portrays it in order to bring back the understanding of what other people, your ancestors, could have gone through.”

Chris Follina plays Richard III in Lawrence’s production of “Richard III.”

Although this weekend’s audience will not have the same close connection to the characters and events of the play as the Elizabethan audience, Troy and Stevens both believe the universal themes and patterns depicted in Richard III can be transferred across time and found in every period of history—including this one. The specific players and timelines may change, but the fundamental story remains the same.

“When you do the show, you keep the story alive,” said Alec Welhouse ’23, the actor playing the Duke of Buckingham. “You don’t let the story die. If we weren’t doing this show, I don’t think anyone at Lawrence would be talking about King Richard or anyone like that. But since we’re doing it, it sparks that interest again. It gets people interested in Shakespearean times and makes you want to learn more about it.”

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Teaching at LU, performing on world stages: Gomez is living her best musical life

Holly Beemer '22 listens as music professor Estelí Gomez, seated to her right, gives feedback during a studio voice class in the Music-Drama Center.
Estelí Gomez gives feedback and instruction to Holly Beemer ’22 during a studio voice class in the Music-Drama Center. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Estelí Gomez is having herself a February.

In addition to working with her voice students on the second floor of the Music-Drama Center, the Lawrence Conservatory’s newest music professor is in the midst of a whirlwind schedule that has her, among other things, sharing a New York stage this week with the iconic Renée Fleming and then visiting New Zealand and Australia with an opera featuring her Grammy-winning chamber music ensemble Roomful of Teeth.

Preceding all that was a concert last week with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and newVoices choir at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center — her first public performance as a resident of Appleton — a brief stopover in New York to perform at the Lincoln Center on the American Songbook series, and an overnight to St. Louis for a recital with the Kingsbury Ensemble.

In between flights and performances, her teaching continues — from hotel rooms and rehearsal spaces she connects with her students remotely via Zoom for voice lessons, all the while showing them in real time what life as a working musician can look like.

“I’m living it,” Gomez said of the Conservatory’s mission to prepare students to live their best musical lives.

It’s a blistering schedule, but Gomez, an in-demand soprano, makes no excuses. This is what she signed up for when she accepted an offer last year to join the Conservatory faculty, her first full-time teaching gig after a decade living on the road.

“What I desired was that both sorts of existences — the academic and the performer — would feed one another,” she said.

A native of Watsonville, California, with a bachelor of arts from Yale and a master of music from McGill, Gomez spent 10 years in constant motion, touring with Roomful of Teeth and performing and recording with the likes of the Seattle Symphony and Silkroad Ensemble, among others. She won a Grammy Award with Roomful of Teeth in 2014 — the ensemble’s 2013 debut album also earned composer Caroline Shaw a Pulitzer Prize — and is featured on the Silkroad Ensemble album that scored a Grammy win in 2016.

See more on the Lawrence Conservatory of Music here.

Estelí Gomez smiles as she talks with students in a studio class.
Estelí Gomez reacts as she works with students at the start of a studio class earlier in February. Gomez joined the Lawrence faculty in fall. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Chasing a dream

Gomez and her seven Roomful colleagues have served a number of teaching residencies and master classes at universities across the country, including two at Lawrence. The Lawrence experiences were so satisfying for Gomez that she listened intently when Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl in late 2018 first mentioned a coming opening on the Conservatory faculty.

“That was the beginning of this dream,” Gomez said. “What would it look like if I actually lived somewhere? I’d been living out of my suitcase for about a decade. I had a storage unit in Montréal, my parents live in California, my partner lives in Austin, Texas, and I have a crash pad in New York City.”

She was drawn to the idea of teaching in a Conservatory setting, especially one she held in such high regard.

“I had already been bitten by the bug of spending more time in an academic environment, for the resources, for the people who were interested in diving deep in creative ways,” Gomez said.

But she also wanted to continue to perform on stages around the world. At Lawrence, that’s a path that has already been paved many times over. Her performing would be embraced as an opportunity, not a problem. Pertl called her “a perfect fit for Lawrence, an exquisite musician with the heart of a liberal arts scholar.”

The Conservatory’s mantra to provide holistic music education for the 21st century, recognizing many paths to living a musical life, was all Gomez needed to hear. 

“It was the fact that my interests lined up so well with this place,” she said. “That’s what sealed the deal for me.”

Gomez knew she had huge shoes to fill as she was joining the voice faculty following the retirements of the talented and much-respected Kenneth Bozeman and Joanne Bozeman, whose influences on Lawrence University had been long and impactful. She’s tried to pick up where they left off.

“I’m so lucky they were my predecessors,” Gomez said. “They have such wonderful systems set up.”

She said she’s soaking in the talent, expertise, and teaching wisdom of her Conservatory colleagues. At the Fox Cities PAC performance last week, she was joined on stage by two of those colleagues, Steven Paul Spears, a tenor and voice professor, and Phillip Swan, the co-director of choral studies who serves as artistic director and conductor of newVoices, a semi-professional community choir.

Several of Estelí Gomez's students pose with her for a photo at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.
Several of Estelí Gomez’s students met up with her at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center for her recent performance with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and newVoices choir. (Photo submitted)

A new sense of place

The reality of her new gig —and the lifestyle change it signified — began to sink in for Gomez shortly after she arrived in Appleton last summer. She had a kitchen all to herself. And a consistent place to sleep. It had been a long time since she could say that.

It took some time to adjust, she said. Fall term was challenging, learning new systems and meeting new people. It wasn’t until winter term that she began to settle into the rhythms of life on campus.

“There was a point where I slept better on airplanes than I did in my new place,” Gomez said. “I had to remind myself, this is what is normal. But, slowly, the normal is shifting. I’m still getting to tour, but now I have more of an essence of grounding here, which has been a blessing.”

Most satisfying, she said, is that it’s giving her a chance to spread her wings as an educator.

“Now I have this long arc of getting to work with students on a weekly basis and really connect with them as people,” she said. “It feels so much deeper. I so appreciate the chance to get to know them in a longer-form way than being a visiting master class artist.”

Several of Gomez’s students showed up at the Fox Cities PAC last week to show support for her performance with the Fox Valley Symphony and newVoices. That’s part of the relationship-building between faculty and students that is so pronounced at Lawrence, where class sizes are small and one-on-one sessions with faculty are the norm.

“They’re the building blocks for their singing life here,” Gomez said of those faculty-to-student relationships.

They also are where her performance life and her academic life can intersect to provide teachable moments for her students, who are exploring what their own musical paths might be. Her performances, Gomez said, help inform her teaching. And her teaching helps inform her performances, whether here in Appleton or on the other side of the world.

“I think it’s good for them to have somebody who is in it,” Gomez said of her students. “And it’s also good for my performing that I’m engaged with how to articulate what I believe is really good singing, really healthy singing, really efficient singing. I have to articulate that every day to my students over and over again and in a million different sorts of languages.”

Esteli Gomez listens intently as Mae Capaldi sings during a studio class.
Estelí Gomez, assistant professor of music, works with Mae Capaldi ’23 during a recent studio class. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Sharing the stage with Renée Fleming

That brings us to this busy stretch. It’s the three performances with the New York Philharmonic Feb. 20-22 in Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall that’s garnering the most attention.

Gomez is one of three soloists in the world premiere of a piece written by 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Reid. It was commissioned by the Philharmonic as part of Project 19, which is marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment by commissioning works by 19 women composers.

“It should be a really eclectic, innovative program,” Gomez said.

Fleming is featured in the second half of the concert, singing music of Björk.

Gomez has sung with the New York Philharmonic before, but this will be her first time performing on the same stage as Fleming, one of the country’s most renowned sopranos. They have plenty of connections, though. Gomez’s frequent duet partner has sung duet recitals with Fleming. And Gomez has sung with Susan Graham, Fleming’s frequent duet partner.

“And apparently she’s a Roomful fan, so I’m excited to meet her,” Gomez said.

From there, Gomez will be back in Appleton for three days to teach, and then reconnect with her Roomful of Teeth collaborators for the trip to New Zealand and Australia for the Peter Sellars-directed opera Kopernikus.

Interestingly, Gomez was performing in Kopernikus in Europe when she had her first interview — via Skype — for the Lawrence position.

“I think it was something like 11 p.m. for me; it was maybe 4 p.m. here,” she said. “We had just finished opening night in Toulouse, France. I joined for the champagne toast, ordered dinner at the cafe upstairs, then went down to the basement of the theater and said, ‘OK, let’s answer some interview questions.’ So, all this now feels really interconnected.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Music for All Family Concert to be held Sunday at Riverview Gardens

The Mile of Music Education Team works with children at last summer's Mile of Music in Appleton.
Elementary-aged children will be the focus of Sunday’s Family Concert at Riverview Gardens. Members of the Mile of Music Education Team will be part of the fun at the second annual event.

The second annual Family Concert at Riverview Gardens will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Riverview Gardens Community Center.

It is part of Lawrence’s Music for All concert series and is in partnership with Mile of Music.

Sunday’s concert, with music geared toward elementary-aged children, will feature performances by Lawrence’s Fiddle Club and a trombone quartet, as well as other Lawrence Conservatory musicians. Each piece will be introduced before it is performed, providing some context and suggestions for what the audience should listen for, thus creating a more immersive and interactive experience for the listener.

The Mile of Music Education Team, led by Leila Pertl and featuring Lawrence music educators, will be on hand to offer hands-on music-making opportunities before the performances begin.

The Music for All series was founded by associate professors of music Michael Mizrahi and Erin Lesser as part of Lawrence’s well-established partnership with Riverview Gardens, an Appleton nonprofit focused on addressing homelessness and poverty. Mizrahi and Lesser modeled the program off of their work in Decoda, a dynamic musical group that tries to achieve a social impact through their performances.

The Stone Arch Brewpub will provide light refreshments during the reception on Sunday.

Upcoming concerts in this year’s Music for All series include: 5:30 p.m. April 21 and 5:30 p.m. May 18.

Lawrence hits No. 3 on Princeton Review’s ranking of Best Impact Schools in nation

Students work with chemistry professor Stefan Gebbert in class.
Rigorous classroom work combined with mentorship on the student journey helps prepare students for an impactful life after Lawrence.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

When it comes to colleges and universities preparing students for an impactful life, few do it better than Lawrence University.

Lawrence is the No. 3 impact school in the country in a new ranking released by The Princeton Review. The 2020 Best Impact School ranking, one spot up from where Lawrence landed a year ago, focuses on both the student experience on campus and how alumni perceive their careers. It suggests Lawrence’s liberal arts vision is alive and well, that students are being prepared for a life well lived.

The ranking comes as part of The Princeton Review’s annual Best Value Colleges project, a listing of 200 schools that are considered to have exceptional return on investment. Lawrence again made the list. The 200 schools are not ranked in order; the editors highlight those that made the cut amid 656 colleges and universities that were evaluated on more than 40 data points covering academics, affordability, and career preparation.

Within those 200, The Princeton Review breaks down rankings in seven categories, one of them being the 25 Best Impact Schools in the country.

Climbing to No. 3 — only Wesleyan and Southwestern universities finished ahead of Lawrence — is particularly satisfying because of what it says about a Lawrence education and how that then transfers to the job market and career exploration. It measures on-campus experiences such as student engagement, service, government, and sustainability and then surveys alumni to rate how meaningful they believe their work life is.

“I see it and hear it when I meet with our alumni around the world,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communication. “They point back to their time at Lawrence as unlocking something for them, discovering an interest or talent they didn’t know they had until they started working with professors here who helped guide them in that discovery. That’s one of the benefits of attending a college like Lawrence where our faculty are so deeply invested in helping our students become even better versions of themselves, and it’s a transformation that lasts a lifetime.”

A Lawrence student packages supplies during a volunteer shift at Feeding America.
Volunteer opportunities for Lawrence students, including here at Feeding America, help fuel the student experience.

Lawrence has doubled down on efforts to mentor students outside of the classroom throughout the college journey, taking a holistic approach in everything from wellness and spirituality to leadership and career preparation. With an 8-to-1 faculty to student ratio and a liberal arts mantra that prepares students for lifelong learning, Lawrence puts its students in positions to launch into careers and service work that are filled with meaning, said Christopher Card, Lawrence’s vice president for student life.

“There are enough colleges on the market where one can just go to it and do the basic academic requirements and move in and move out and go on to their next chapter,” Card said. “I don’t think that’s why students come to Lawrence. I think they come here because they expect a particular relationship to emerge — certainly with solid academics and rigor. They want to be challenged. They want to know they are getting a first-rate education but also a first-rate experience outside of the classroom in terms of their own personal growth and development.”

The Princeton Review data includes survey answers from alumni who speak to whether their jobs have “high meaning.” Lawrence’s high ranking reflects that alumni overwhelmingly say yes and that their career accomplishments have been fueled by their Lawrence education.

Lawrence has ramped up its efforts to better connect those alumni with today’s students. The 2019 launch of the endowed Riaz Waraich Dean of the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement (CLC) position has accelerated efforts to re-energize career exploration and preparation. The newly debuted Viking Connect program is at the front end of those efforts, tapping alumni to serve as mentors for students interested in the same field.

“Our alums are coming back full force to offer their services,” Card said. “I think that speaks to their own experiences and wanting to give back to support our students here.”

This is the 13th year The Princeton Review has put together its list of the 200 Best Value Colleges. It factors in academics, cost, financial aid, graduation rates, student debt, alumni salaries, and alumni job satisfaction.

Lawrence continues to score well in the areas of cost and financial aid as its Full Speed to Full Need initiative continues to produce results. More than $82 million has been raised for scholarships that help cover the gap between a student’s ability to pay — based on family income — and other available financial aid.

While student debt nationally has risen significantly in recent years, the Full Speed to Full Need initiative, part of the $220 million Be the Light! campaign, has helped reverse that trend for Lawrence students. The average student debt for new Lawrence graduates has dropped to $29,504, its lowest mark in 10 years and below the national average of $32,731.

“This is one of those rankings that I’m really happy to share with prospective students and families, because it gets at one of those essential questions so many are trying to answer — even if they haven’t articulated it yet — which is, ‘How might our investment in this college set up our student to live a great life?’” Anselment said. 

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Big chill: 8 fun winter activities that beckon, on and off campus

Olivia Sibbet '23 tosses a snowball as she plays in the snow on the Lawrence campus.
Olivia Sibbet ’22 enjoys an early snowfall on the Lawrence campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

It’s that time of year again.

Whether you’re the type to wear shorts until it drops below zero or the one who bars the windows and gets cozy under a blanket with some hot tea, one thing is certain: Lawrence makes it easy to make the most of winter.

As we move deeper into February, here are a few activities to help you take advantage of all that Lawrence has to offer in terms of winter fun.

1: Skate on Ormsby Lake

Ormsby Lake is officially frozen and open to Lawrence students. This is a classic student favorite that always comes with the changing of the seasons, so it’s time to practice some broomball, bust out the figure skates or just take a spin around the pond with a few friends.

With easy access right across from the entrance to Ormsby Hall, skating on the rink is the perfect way to brighten up a lazy Sunday or blow off some steam right after class. And don’t worry if you left your skates at home (or never had any to begin with) — you can pick up some skates on the cheap at Play It Again Sports in Appleton.

2: Shop at the Community Public Market

For the people who miss seeing booths lined up down sunny College Avenue for the Downtown Appleton Farm Market at the beginning of Fall Term, the Community Public Market might be the perfect stand-in.

Until the Downtown Appleton Farm Market returns in June, Appleton residents have the opportunity to experience the Community Public Market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 8, March 12 and April 18. Shoppers will be able to have the bustling Farm Market experience while cozily tucked away from the cold in the Fox Cities Exhibition Center, just an 8-minute walk from Lawrence’s campus.

Whether you’re looking for fresh snacks to take back to your dorm room, a ready-to-go meal to fulfill your non-Commons food craving or an environment where you can appreciate live music and art, the Community Public Market is a winter destination.

3: Play in the snow on Main Hall Green

Shae Erlandson makes a snow angel on Main Hall Green.
Shae Erlandson ’23 joins friends in making snow angels on Main Hall Green. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

When the snow starts coming down, the grassy area in front of Main Hall turns into a winter wonderland, full of opportunities for classic (and snowy) fun. From making tranquil snow sculptures and snow angels on the lawn to competing in snowball fights with teams and forts, Main Hall Green becomes Main Hall White as students bundle up and brave the chill.

Requiring no preparation or planning (other than dressing warm), playing in the snow outside of Main Hall is the perfect way to pass the time when you find yourself just sitting in your residence hall, trying to find something to do. The only requirement: remember to wear your gloves!

4: Order some hot chocolate at Lou’s Brew

As much as we all love Kaplan’s Café, it can be nice to venture just off campus to break from routine, and Lou’s Brew is the perfect place to do that.

With a prime location only one block away from Brokaw Hall, Lou’s Brew is close enough to campus that even students born near the equator can manage the brisk walk — plus, it’s easy to warm up with a toasty hot chocolate or latte as soon as you get inside (for tea-drinkers like me, their London Fog is an all-time fave). Lou’s Brew offers 10 percent off cash orders for Lawrence students if they present their student ID before paying.

For students willing to walk a bit further from campus. College Avenue is lined with plenty of other coffee shops that will satisfy that hot-drink craving, including Brewed Awakenings, Copper Rock and ACOCA Coffee.

5: Visit the Bubolz Nature Preserve

If you want to revel in the beauty of winter, there’s nowhere better than Wisconsin. Within the Fox Cities, the must-see destination for experiencing a stunning winter is the Bubolz Nature Preserve.

Roughly a 15-minute drive from campus, the preserve features hiking, walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails that are open from dawn to dusk throughout the winter. If you want to make a day of it, the Bubolz Nature Preserve also hosts special events, like their candlelight ski/snowshoe and their beginners’ ski clinics (which are an absolute necessity for those of us from the flatlands of the southern Midwest).

Regardless of skill level, the Bubolz Nature Preserve will have some kind of winter activity for you.

6: Roast s’mores in the dorm fireplaces

Although not every residence hall has its own fireplace, most of them do, and you can stop by the CA desk to schedule a time when you can get some friends together and hone your marshmallow-roasting skills. (Golden brown all around is 100% the perfect roast, no matter what anyone else says.)

It’s easy to ignore the wind outside when you’re basking in the heat of the flames.

In order to set up a s’more-making session in a dorm fireplace, you just need to reach out to your Community Advisor or Residence Hall Director so a CA can get trained to build a safe fire. Once that’s done, all you need to do is gather some blankets, find a few sticks and stock up on supplies from the Corner Store.

7: Sled down Memorial Hill

Tucked right behind the Viking Room in Memorial Hall, the hill leading down to the SLUG is a go-to destination for sledding. As the perfect way to de-stress after a long week, sledding down Memorial Hill is another staple of Winter Term, much like skating on Ormsby Lake.

Just request a sled from a CA or RHD, put on some snow boots and get ready to go fast. Winter is here, and Lawrence students are ready to enjoy the winter wonderland.

8: Go to some of the many Lawrence events happening every day

With a student body as involved and accomplished as Lawrence’s, there are a multitude of diverse events happening every day on campus. From musical performances to lectures from faculty and staff, from Wellness Center Yoga classes to exhibitions at the Wriston Center, there is never a shortage of events to attend.

The Lawrence events page is constantly being updated with more upcoming events, so Lawrence students can be sure that they will find something that resonates with them. No matter the weather, there is always something to do within a short walking distance of the residence halls. It might just take the chill out of winter.

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Student commissions music for senior recital in honor of Pakistani grandmother

Rehanna Rexroat '20 plays the violin during a recent rehearsal session in Shattuck Hall.
Rehanna Rexroat ’20 practices in Lawrence’s Shattuck Hall in preparation for her senior recital on Feb. 8. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

The senior violin recital for Rehanna Rexroat ’20, set for Saturday in Harper Hall, will be more than just the summit of her academic career at Lawrence — one that boasts majors in violin performance, instrumental music education, and choral/general music education. It also will bring attendees into a space of remembrance and celebration of culture.

With funding from a grant to assist Lawrence students in their Senior Experience, Rexroat was able to commission Aakash Mittal, a renowned Indian American saxophonist and composer, to compose a piece for her recital in honor of her Pakistani grandmother.

The piece, aptly titled Origins, is a duet for violin and harp for Rexroat and Leila Ramagopal Pertl, an instructor in music education in the Conservatory of Music.

For months, the two had been searching for a piece that properly payed homage to Rexroat’s culture by blending Indian and Western classical music. With no luck, they called on the assistance of Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory. He reached out to Mittal, who he counts as a friend, to see if he had a piece he’d recommend. He did not. So, Mittal wrote one.

 “It’s really about honoring ancestors in a general, global sense,” Rexroat said of Origins.

The rest of the pieces in Rexroat’s recital deal similarly with these themes of culture and memory. Their composers, some of whom are ethnomusicologists, celebrate their own cultures or the cultures of other groups in the music. She dedicated one in honor of her grandmother on her mother’s side; another to her childhood best friend who recently died.

“I really liked that theme,” Rexroat said of the music selections. “But I took it a step further because I wanted my culture to be part of that.”

Rexroat was in contact with Mittal throughout the process of composing Origins. He was inspired by stories she sent him that her grandmother had told her. He adopted themes from those stories into the piece.

Learn about Lawrence’s Chandler Senior Experience here.

“I wanted my culture to be part of that,” Rehanna Rexroat said of commissioning a piece of music for her senior recital. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Rexroat’s grandmother was a devout Muslim, so the piece is set to scales used in devotional Sufi music, but one of the movements takes its name from a psalm to commemorate Rexroat’s own Christian beliefs.

Though the recital is very personal to her, Rexroat hopes the music — Origins in particular — also will encourage listeners to get in touch with their own cultural stories.

“The way Leila and I will be presenting it, we’re going to invite others to think about their ancestors,” she said.

Rexroat, a native of Mount Vernon, Iowa, who started playing the violin at age 4, noted that Saturday’s recital is almost exactly 18 years since she first picked up the instrument. But this educational apex, she said, is only the starting point of a longer musical journey.

“I think violin is always going to be a passion of mine,” she said. “It’s been in my life for as long as I can remember. Wherever I go I will try to find someone I can continue to study with.”

Rexroat’s recital will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, in Harper Hall. It is open to the public.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

$200 million mark surpassed as Be the Light! campaign enters stretch run

Aerial photo of Kohler Hall.
Important upgrades in Kohler Hall will be among the campus renovations being supported by the ongoing Be the Light! campaign. Campus Renewal is one of four priorities in the $220 million campaign that has now passed the $200 million mark.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has passed the $200 million mark in its Be the Light! campaign, a major milestone in the largest campaign in the university’s history, President Mark Burstein announced to the Board of Trustees today.

More than 15,500 alumni and friends of Lawrence have supported the campaign since it launched six years ago with an ambitious goal to raise $220 million.

“The impact of Be the Light! is already profound,” said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development, pointing to declining student debt at Lawrence as the school draws closer to being a full-need institution, new curricular initiatives in cognitive neuroscience and computer science, among others, and revamps in residence halls and classrooms.

Some contributions to the campaign, which has now reached $203.8 million, have been massive, including the $30 million matching gift to Full Speed to Full Need that launched the campaign in 2014 and others that have been in excess of $2 million. But many others have been smaller gifts that add up to major contributions. More than 14,000 gifts have come in at $50 or less, adding up to nearly $400,000.

“This demonstrates that every gift makes a difference,” Husmann said.

The campaign is now in its stretch run, with a closing set for November. Contributions have already strengthened each of the four campaign priorities — $83.5 million for Full Speed to Full Need, $72.4 million for the Student Journey, $27.8 million for the Lawrence Fund, and $20.1 million for Campus Renewal.

Keeping that momentum rolling through the campaign’s end will be critical.

Tom Paulson ’93 spoke at a recent Be the Light! campaign event held in the Warch Campus Center, telling alumni gathered how enthused he is to see the number moving closer to the $220 million goal. He and his family — two of his children are Lawrence alumni as well — pledged $2.5 million to the campaign, helping to support students via scholarships.

“It just seemed like a great opportunity, and almost a responsibility to pay it forward,” Paulson said.

An anonymous donor matched his family’s $2.5 million gift, boosting it to $5 million.

“Everything came together as a real magical moment,” Paulson said. “That $2.5 million match came in, the Be the Light! campaign was here, and everything just flowed together. I am overwhelmed at the response to the campaign, and I love the fact that we’re involved.”

Husmann called the $200 million milestone a significant marker that will provide momentum during these final 10 months of the campaign.

“The success of Be the Light! is a product of the strength of our community,” he said.

Charlot Singleton ’67, one of the tri-chairs of the campaign, said today’s milestone announcement is worth celebrating for what it means for current and future Lawrentians.

“This is great news for our students and faculty,” she said.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Frisell and friends bring Harmony to Memorial Chapel for Jazz Series concert

Harmony includes, from left, Luke Bergman, Bill Frisell, Hank Roberts, and Petra Haden.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The third concert in Lawrence University’s 2019-20 Jazz Series arrives Friday, and it promises to be a good one.

Not only will the legendary guitarist Bill Frisell be on stage at Memorial Chapel, but he’ll have some pretty notable players with him in a newly formed group called Harmony.

The 8 p.m. Feb. 7 concert features Frisell, Petra Haden, Hank Roberts, and Luke Bergman, the musicians who came together to record the Blue Note album Harmony, released in October. They have now taken Harmony on tour.

Frisell is a Grammy-winning guitarist and composer, his work rooted in jazz but also incorporating plenty of blues and popular American music traditions. He’s collaborated with the likes of John Zorn’s Naked City, Joey Baron, and the Paul Motian Trio, among others, in an impressive writing, recording and performing career that has spanned more than three decades.

“The way he moves complex harmonic voicings and linear phrases on the guitar with seamless sophistication is unparalleled,” Jose Encarnacion, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, said when the show was announced. “I personally love everything about his music, especially his collaborations with John Zorn and the Paul Motian’s group.”

Haden, meanwhile, provides the bulk of Harmony’s vocals, wrapped around Frisell originals and some American folk classics.

Andy Ellis wrote about Harmony in early January on the Premier Guitar site, offering a glimpse of what you’ll see and hear at the Chapel on Friday.

“When I first heard Harmony, I’d hit a rough patch and my normal diet of grooving music wasn’t cutting it,” Ellis writes. “From the opening strains of the first track, Everywhere, I felt as if I’d stepped through the looking glass into an alternative sonic universe, one both melancholic and divine. Ah, just what I needed.

“At the center of this strange brew is Petra Haden, whose beautiful, sometimes ethereal voice casts a spell across the entire album, which consists of Frisell originals, standards, and folk songs. Whether it’s Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life or On the Street Where You Live by Lerner and Loewe, the quartet — which includes cellist Hank Roberts and guitarist Luke Bergman, both of whom also sing — puts a fresh twist on jazz-leaning vocal ensembles. And were he still alive, I can imagine Pete Seeger wiping away a tear after hearing his Where Have All the Flowers Gone? rendered so poignantly. Throughout Harmony, Frisell’s guitar rings like a bell, and his rich voicings recall jazz piano genius Bill Evans. Moody sounds for tumultuous times.”

Tickets for Friday’s concert are $25-$30 for adults, $20-$25 for seniors, and free for students. The Lawrence box office can be reached at 920-832-6749.

Up next: The fourth and final concert in this year’s Jazz Series comes on May 1, when the Tigran Hamasyan Trio takes to the Memorial Chapel stage. A native of Armenia, Hamasyan is described as a jazz-meets-rock pianist with a potent blend of jazz improvisation and rich folkloric sounds. Here’s more on the full Jazz Series and Artist Series.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu