Category: Conservatory

Copeland Woodruff wins national opera directing award, two LU productions also earn top honors

Copeland Woodruff
Copeland Woodruff

In baseball parlance, Lawrence University has swept a prestigious doubleheader in the annual American Prize Performing Arts competition.

Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies and associate professor of music at Lawrence, has been named the 2018 recipient of the American Prize’s Charles Nelson Reilly Prize for stage direction. Selected from among 15 national semifinalists, he was honored for his work on Lawrence’s 2017 production of Philip Glass’ “Hydrogen Jukebox.”

American Prize hailed Copeland as “a champion of improvisation, musical and physical, in the operatic medium as a tool for education, creation and performance.”

Additionally, Lawrence’s opera productions “The Beggar’s Opera” and “Hydrogen Jukebox” shared first-place honors for the American Prize in Opera Performance in the college/university division.

Lawrence’s two productions were chosen from among 15 reviewed operas. Lawrence was competing against several institutions with graduate programs, including Yale University, University of Wisconsin-Madison. and Oklahoma State University.

Scene from the opera "The Beggar's Opera"
Lawrence’s 2016 production of “The Beggar’s Opera” tied for first-place honors with the college’s production of “Hydrogen Jukebox” in the American Prize in Opera Performance in the college/university division

In announcing Lawrence as this year’s performance winner, American Prize said “Recent productions have garnered national attention because of their well-crafted and dedicated musical and dramatic performances.”

Copeland said being honored as the first recipient of the newly-named Charles Nelson Reilly Prize was “daunting.”

“I admired Reilly as a child and met him in the early 1990s while I was on staff at Santa Fe Opera,” recalled Woodruff. “His acting classes were packed and like nothing I had ever seen before. To be mentioned with a man who lived his amazing life proudly and among many of the world’s great talents, is a blessing I never anticipated, but am over-the-moon about.”

Copeland credits Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, who hired him in 2014 as the university’s first director of opera studies, for offering him “the chance to dream.”

“The Charles Nelson Reilly Award recognizes Copeland’s outstanding achievements as an artist, director, and educator. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this singular honor.”
— Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music

“Lawrence has been the epitome of environments to teach, learn, develop craft and struggle to tell difficult, funny, frightening, loving, messy human stories on stage,” said Woodruff.  “I have been a very lucky man to do what I love for a living and feel luckiest being able to work with unbelievably generous colleagues and students whom I also see as colleagues. Lawrence is fertile soil with dedicated gardeners. I’m humbled and inspired each day.”

Pertl called winning the American Prize for two separate opera productions “a rare and momentous occasion.”

“It speaks to the incredible strength of the Lawrence Opera program, our outstanding students and especially our world-class faculty,” said Pertl. “From the moment Copeland Woodruff walked through the doors of our conservatory, we all knew that he was a creative visionary who would build an opera studies program that would give our students the opportunity to receive not only exceptional opera training but also the opportunity to create art at the highest level.

“The Charles Nelson Reilly Award recognizes Copeland’s outstanding achievements as an artist, director and educator,” Pertl added. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this singular honor.”

Woodruff’s Reilly Prize honors the memory of Charles Nelson Reilly, the Tony Award-winning actor for his 1962 portrayal of Bud Frump in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Broadway stage director, acclaimed opera director and acting teacher.

Woodruff joined the Lawrence faculty after spending six years as co-director of opera activities at the University of Memphis, where he earned four first-place National Opera Association Best Opera Production Awards. In addition to directing Lawrence’s annual main stage opera production, Woodruff has launched a series of “micro-operas” that examine socially relevant issues and are performed at non-traditional locales.

Lawrence’s production of Philip Glass’ “Hydrogen Jukebox” shared top honors for this year’s American Prize in Opera Performance, college/university division, along with Lawrence’s production of “The Beggar’s Opera.” in Opera Performance in the college/university division.

The American Prize honors are only the latest accolades for Woodruff. His 2016 mainstage production of “The Beggar’s Opera” was awarded first-place honors by the National Opera Association while his 2015 production of “The Tender Land” earned second-place honors in the NOA’s Best Opera Production competition. “The Beggar’s Opera” also was named “Best of Local Productions” from among 164 productions in both local and professional categories by WFRV-TV arts critic Warren Gerds.

Other awards during Copeland’s tenure include first-place honors for seven students in the 2015 Collegiate Opera Scenes competition held at the NOA’s national convention in Indianapolis, Ind., and his first two micro-operas — “Expressions of Acceptance” and “Straight from the Hip,” which addressed issues of gun presence/gun awareness in the community — earned third-place recognition in the NOA competition, competing against standard opera performances.

Founded in 2009 and based in Danbury, Conn., the American Prize is a series of non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Music lecturer Evan Williams ’11 wins Detroit Symphony’s 2018 Classical Roots African American Composer Residency

Evan Williams, who is spending the 2017-18 academic year as a visiting lecturer in music in the composition department at Lawrence University, has been named the winner of the Detroit Symphony’s 2018 Classical Roots African American Composer Residency.

Evan Williams
Evan Williams ’11

Williams, a 2011 Lawrence graduate, was chosen from a national application process. He will be in residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Feb. 24-26. During his residency, he will conduct community outreach education with the civic ensembles of the DSO.

Highlighting his residence will be a performance of his composition “GRIME” performed during the Classical Roots Chamber Recital Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Detroit’s Plymouth United Church of Christ.

Written in 2013 for the Fresh, Inc. chamber music festival at UW-Parkside, “GRIME” is an eight-minute work for violin, viola, cello and double bass. Calling it a “confluence of seemingly disparate inspirations, including rock, spectralism, minimalism and modernist techniques,” Williams said the goal of the piece was to create a piece that would recreate the sound of a different instrument, in this case, an electric guitar with heavy distortion.

The work’s title came near the end of the composition process. Its working title was “GRIND” due to the harsh grinding sound that resulted from the molto sul ponticello and bow overpressure used in the work.

“In the search for a title, I wanted a word that began with G and also had an ‘edgy’ feel to it, given the rock inspiration,” Williams wrote in a blog post about the work. “I eventually decided against the word ‘grind,” as it held more hip hop and rap connotations for me. While ‘GRIME’ doesn’t hold any rock connotations that I am aware of, the title seemed to be more suited to the work.”

Prior to joining the Lawrence faculty, Williams spent a year as a composer fellow at Bennington College and taught in the Young Musicians Program at the Walden School in New Hampshire.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in theory/composition at Lawrence, Williams earned a master’s degree in composition from Bowling Green State University and a D.M.A in composition from the University of Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Lawrence welcomes jazz legend Joe Lovano

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist/composer Joe Lovano showcases his conceptual and thematic ventures Friday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in a Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Concert. J

Joining Lovano on stage will be his Classic Quartet bandmates: Lawrence Fields, piano, Peter Slavov, bass and Lamy Istrefi, drums.

Saxophonist Joe LovanoTickets for the performance in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Lovano’s career has been defined by his creative efforts to find new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. With his bandmates, Lovano explores the rich history of mainstream jazz through swing and bebop, driving the edges while honoring the structures of straight-ahead jazz.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and an accomplished saxophonist in his own right, calls Lovano “one of my favorites jazz artists of all time.”

“I love every single one of his recordings,” said Encarnacion, who had the pleasure of meeting Lovano in the 1990s while performing at a jazz festival in Puerto Rico with the Bob Mintzer Big Band. “Joe’s music is always fresh, rooted on the tradition but always moving forward with new sounds and adventurous musical stories.”

A 12-time Grammy Award nominee, Lovano won the trophy in 2000 in the best large jazz ensemble album category for his work on “52nd Street Themes.” That same year, he topped both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat magazine as tenor saxophonist of the year. DownBeat named Lovano its jazz artist of the year twice, including 2010 when he captured the magazine’s “triple crown”: tenor saxophonist, jazz artist and jazz group (Joe Lovano Us 5) of the year.

His discography includes 28 albums as leader and more than 50 others as either co-leader or sideman.

Lovano has taught as the Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance as an artist-in-residence at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Nirmala Rajesekar brings Indian classical repertoire to World Music Series

Indian classical music will be highlighted when Nirmala Rajasekar takes the stage Wednesday, Oct 25 in the second concert in Lawrence University’s 2017-18 World Music Series.

Nirmala Rajasekar
Master veena artiste Nirmala Rajasekar

Rajasekar will be joined by renowned violinist, violist, composer and educator VVS Murari; Sri Murugaboopathi, a.k.a. Boopathi, one of the world’s most celebrated mridangam players; and acclaimed khanjira artist KV Gopalakrishnan.

Tickets for the concert, at 8 p.m. in Harper Hall of the Music-Drama Center, are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors/students and are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.

Rajasekar, who made her concert debut at the age of 13, has established herself as a world-class artist during her nearly four decades of performances. One of the most recognized names in the world of Indian classical music today, Rajasekar has been hailed as a “dynamic and vibrant performer.”

She is known for her creative exploration of the ancient Indian instrument, the seven-stringed Saraswathi veena and her vast repertoire reflects her adherence to the rich tradition, heritage and lineage of her gurus.

Rajasekar has been the recipient of numerous international honors and awards for her contributions to music and education, among them recognition from the Music Academy Madras, known as the Carnegie Hall of India.

The artistic director of the Naadha Rasa (Essence of Tone) Center for Music, Rajasekar travels around the world teaching and performing Carnatic Music vocally and on her veena.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence students shine in state music competition

Three Lawrence University students captured first-place honors at the 2017 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Wisconsin state competition held Oct. 7 at Lawrence. The performance competition recognizes exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence.

Senior Nicholas Suminski, Williamsburg, Mich., earned first-place honors in young artist piano division. He performed Paul Schoenfield’s Boogie from “Peccadillos”; Schumann/Liszt’s “Widmung”; Beethoven’s “Sonata in C minor” opus 53″ and Piazzolla’s Tango #1 from “Tango Suite.”

Senior flutist Ned Martenis, West Newton, Mass., won the young artist woodwind competition. His winning program included CPE Bach’s “Sonata in A minor”; Griffes’ “Poem”; Kapustin’s “Sonata opus 125” and Robert Dick’s “Lookout.”

Freshman Robert Graziano, Kenmore, N.Y., won the senior division piano competition. His winning performance featured Chopin’s “Etude in C minor opus 10 #1”; Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody #5 in E minor”; Debussy’s “Hommage a Rameau” from Images book 1 and Ginastera’s “Danzas Argentinas.”

Nick Suminski
Nick Suminski ’18
Robert Graziano
Robert Graziano ’21
Ned Martenis
Ned Martenis ’18

The young artist division is for state musicians aged 19-26 while the senior division is open to musicians 15-18.

Sophomore violinist Abigail Keefe of Appleton and Third Form Trio – junior flautist Bianca Pratte, Walnut Creek, Calif., junior bassoonist Stuart Young, Arlington, Texas, and senior pianist Mayan Essak of Shorewood — were named “state representatives” as the only entrants in their divisions.

The three winners and the designated state representatives advance to the regional competition Jan. 7, 2018 at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana with regional winners competing in the MTNA national finals March 17-21, 2018, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Also at the competition, senior Anthony Cardella, Porterfield, and freshman Noah Vasquez, Zurich, Switzerland, earned second place and honorable mention honors, respectively, in the young artist piano division.

Suminski and Vasquez study in the piano studio of Cathy Kautsky. Graziano is a student of Anthony Padilla. Cardella is a student of Michael Mizrahi. Keefe studies with Wen-Lei Gu, while Martenis and the members of Third Form Trio are all students of Erin Lesser.

Appleton’s Abigail Peterson, a ninth-grade, piano student at the Lawrence Academy of Music, won the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association High School Virtuoso Competition held at the same time. A student in the piano studio of Catherine Walby, Peterson received $100 for her winning performance.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

Social activism explored in Lawrence opera production of “Hydrogen Jukebox”

With the help of the combined talents of vanguard composer Philip Glass and iconic beat poet Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence University’s opera studies program explores four decades of social activism in four performances of “Hydrogen Jukebox.”

The production will be staged Feb. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center. Tickets for the general public, at $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office. The opera is free to members of the Lawrence community with an ID.

A photo of Lawrence University students in the university's opera production "Hydrogen Jukebox".A talk back with members of the cast, production team and Lawrence faculty will follow the Friday (2/17) and Saturday (2/18) performances.

The opera grew out of a 1988 chance meeting between Glass and Ginsberg at a New York City bookstore. A piano piece composed by Glass to accompany a Ginsberg reading of the anti-war poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra” at Broadway’s Schubert Theater evolved into a full-length piece that became “Hydrogen Jukebox.” The name came from a verse in Ginsberg’s 1955 poem “Howl.”

The opera’s first public performance was on May 26, 1990 at the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, S.C.

According to Glass, the idea behind “Hydrogen Jukebox” was to create a portrait of America covering the 1950s through the late 1980s by incorporating the personal poems of Ginsberg that examined a variety of social issues, from the anti-war movement and the sexual revolution to Eastern philosophy and environmental issues.

Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies at Lawrence, who is directing the production, said he selected the work in part to expose students to social activism in the country during the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

“The primary impetus of choosing an opera at an academic institution, especially an undergraduate one, is to serve the population of students you currently have,” said Woodruff, whose 2016 production of “The Beggar’s Opera” earned first-place honors in the National Opera Association’s Division 6 best opera production competition. “With the prevalent social unrest at universities and colleges last year, it seemed a responsible thing to do. I did not, however, anticipate falling so completely in love with Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg.”

A photo of Lawrence University students performing in the university's opera production "Hydrogen Jukebox."The production features a cast of six singers and an actor. It incorporates a considerable among amount of video projection content, which is used in a variety of roles throughout the performance, including environmental and expressive of characters and thoughts.

“The cast, designers and I looked at the poetry and Glass’ and Ginsberg’s fascination and dedication to Eastern thought,” said Woodruff, “and we crafted an evening that is a journey from loss and back on the path of regaining oneself and one’s purpose.

“Highlights along the road include experimentation with consciousness to reconnect; opening oneself to help others, but having only harsh words and doubt to convey; looking into the past and finding the growth potential instead of being marred in past wrongs and shortcomings; and seeing things clearly and dispassionately, so that we may be most helpful to others and ourselves.”

Andrew Mast, Kimberly Clark Professor of Music and director of bands, conductors the music ensemble for the production. Bonnie Koestner, associate professor of music, is the production’s music director and Reed Woodhouse, a senior vocal coach at Juilliard, is visiting guest artist and a vocal coach for the production.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Artist Series welcomes Elias String Quartet

The internationally acclaimed London-based Elias String Quartet brings its reputation for performing with “exuberance and fire” to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Friday, Feb. 3 in the second concert of Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Artist Series.

Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.A photo of London-based Elias String Quartet sitting on the couch.

Hailed as one of the leading ensembles of their generation, Elias will feature Beethoven’s “String Quartet in F minor, Op. 95,” Kurtág’s “Moments musicaux for string quartet, Op. 44” and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13” in its Lawrence performance.

A product of Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music in England, the quartet has evolved from student group to professional ensemble, earning raves for its artistic excellence after bursting on the scene in 1998. Since then, they have performed around the world, collaborating with many of the best musicians in the world’s most revered venues.

In 2015, the quartet — violinists Sara Bitlloch and Donald Grant, violist Martin Saving and cellist Marie Bitlloch, Sara’s sister — finished its ground-breaking Beethoven Project, which saw it record and perform the composer’s complete set of works for string quartet.

In its review of a recent performance, The Sunday Times of London raved “The players are individually brilliant, but their interplay is profound” while the Philadelphia Inquiring called their playing “intoxicating.”

Passionate about playing new music, Elias has premiered works by contemporary composers Sally Beamish and Colin Matthews of the UK, Matthew Hindson from Australia and American Timo Andres. In addition to the Beethoven project, their discography includes Mendelssohn and Britten as well as an album of French harp music and Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Jonathan Biss.

Remaining performers on this year’s Artist Series line-up include Mnozil Brass, March 29,  and Roomful of Teeth, April 7.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest offers 52nd test of cerebral fitness

 It seems a no brainer that Ridley Tankersley would eventually hold the exalted title of Trivia Headmaster of Lawrence University’s ultimate test of cerebral fitness.

A photo of Lawrence University Trivia Headmaster Ridley Tankersley.
Senior Ridley Tankersley will oversee the 52nd edition of Lawrence’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest.

Heck, he almost was named a trivia master before he was even a Lawrence student.

As 2017’s Trivia Headmaster, Tankersley, a senior studio art major from Phoenix, Ariz., will oversee 50 straight hours of outrageous competition all in the name of fun during the 52nd edition of Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest.

Older than the Super Bowl and liberally sprinkled with questions that make explaining the Higgs Boson look easy, the Lawrence trivia contest is the nation’s longest-running salute to all things obscure.

The contest returns in all its inconsequential glory Friday, Jan. 27 at its customary 10:00.37 p.m. start time and runs until midnight Sunday. The contest, just as it has for the past 11 years, will be webcast worldwide from the control room of wlfmradio.

Nearly 400 questions will be asked over the course of the contest, with hundreds, if not thousands of trivia addicts playing for on-campus and off-campus teams, calling in answers to the WLFM studios. Last year, 86 teams battled it out for the off-campus title, which was won by Hobgoblins of Little Minds, a team based in North Carolina. Among on-campus combatants, David and the Bucky’s Batallion Diabolically Antagonizing Tortured Brood-Makers, Basically Building Batteries, Bungee Jumping Blindfolded, Bizarrely Bludgeoning Bells and Definitely Ascending toward Brilliance By Dastardly Battling Together outlasted 18 challengers for its second straight title.

Tankersley, who went from playing as a freshman to serving as a trivia master the past two contests, tried to pull a fast one in 2012. As a visiting prospective student, Tankersley conspired with a current student to apply as a trivia master.

“We thought it would be funny if we both auditioned to be trivia masters,” said Tankersley, who was a member of the winning on-campus team his freshman year. “I pretended to be a Lawrence student. My visit roommate gave me a fake Lawrence ID number and his room number. I went through the whole process, including an interview. I heard I came close to being picked. I think people were quite surprised when they realized I was back in Arizona finishing high school.”

As he gets ready to settle in to the big chair for the weekend, Tankersley hopes to remind players of the contest’s credo: Trivia is meant to be entertainment and should be perceived solely in that light.

“I’ve seen the focus put on competitiveness, not the enjoyment of playing and I want to see it go back to that,” said Tankersley, who figures he’ll only manage to sneak in eight hours of sleep during the course of the 50-hour contest. “I want it to be on the front of everyone’s mind that people are playing because it’s fun and trivia masters are doing what they do because it’s fun.”

A photo of Lawrence University headmaster dressing up as a Joker, surrounded by trivia masters holding up large playing cards.
A “deck full” of trivia masters will assist headmaster Ridley Tankersley (center) during this year’s 50-hour Great Midwest Trivia contest.

While technology has perhaps eroded some of the contest’s original, simple charm, its core spirit — a weird, yet at the same time weirdly logical experience —  remains untarnished.

“You’re in a room with waxing and waning numbers of other teammates, but you’re all there doing the same thing,” said Tankersley, whose dad played as the one-man team “Square Root of All Evil” from Arizona last year. “People take it seriously and it’s inspiring that they do, finding the fun in this weird thing.

“It’s really all about the community of playing,” he added. “It’s about spending time with your friends on the weekend, and maybe coming out of it with a bad prize. It’s all about the experience.”

 Appleton native Kim Stahl knows all about trivia’s “community of playing.” She began playing the trivia contest when she was in elementary school and started a team in sixth grade. Today, she and her best friend Heidi Delorey are co-ring leaders of a team that numbers around four dozen multiple-generation players from as many as 10 states who annually converge on her home — in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Stahl, who has approximately 35 years of notches in her trivia belt, and her merry band of “Hobgoblins,” have benefited from the contest’s switch from an over-the-air broadcast to its current webcast, allowing her to maintain a beloved, decades-old tradition.

“We just love playing. We love the contest. It’s a lot of fun and it makes for a wonderful reunion,” said Stahl, a 1991 graduate of Appleton West High School. “And we love the fact that all of these Lawrence students have kept it going all these years. It’s such a unique college tradition.”

Despite her long history with the contest, Stahl first cued the DJ to play “We are the Champions” in 2015, the contest’s 50th anniversary. They successfully defended their title last year and now are gunning for a coveted “threepeat.”

“We are firmly intending to hit the hat trick this year,” said Stahl, whose own personal trivia tradition involves filling her front yard with pink flamingos the weekend of the contest.  “After never expecting to win for the first 30-some years, that would be a crowning jewel.”

Following trivia tradition, Lawrence President Mark Burstein, will start the fun by asking the contest’s first question, which, also by tradition, is always the final — and virtually unanswerable 100-point “Super Garruda” — from the previous year’s contest.

For one of the few times in the contest’s history, last year’s Super Garruda was correctly answered by the Trivia Pirates…Aaarrrggh. They somehow managed to come up Earwigs Rule to the question: In 1964, a band pretended to play Beatles songs at a battle of the bands called the Letterman Show. What is written in the top right corner of the page that features the band in a KWSS DJ’s copy of the lead singer’s 1965 high school yearbook?

Here are a few “softballs” to help everyone get warmed up for this year’s contest.

  1. In 1988, students at the University College in Dublin broke a record by debating, for 503 hours and 45 minutes, what statement?
  2. At this toy themed amusement park in San Diego, what guards the entrance to the ride immediately south of the easternmost green roller coaster?
  1. The leader of a one-man comedy synth punk band also has a website dedicated to images of a certain household object. What is BigJerk’s lamp thinking?

(1. “Every Dog Should Have Its Day” 2. A 16-foot tall LEGO pharaoh  3. “I hate the zoo.”)

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence opera program recognized with national award — again

The hits just keep on coming for Lawrence University’s opera studies program.

For the second straight year, Lawrence has garnered national recognition. Its 2016 production of “The Beggar’s Opera,” which was performed last February at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, was awarded first-place honors in the 2015-16 National Opera Association’s (NOA) Division 6 Best Opera Production competition.

A photo of Lawrence University students in the university's opera production "The Beggar Opera."
Lawrence’s 2016 production of “The Beggar Opera” earned first-place honors in the National Opera Association’s Division 6 Best Opera Production competition.

Lawrence earned top honors against competitors with graduate student programs, some of which are previous winners in the category.

The college’s first micro-opera production, “Expressions of Acceptance,” which was performed at the PAC in November 2015, tied for third place in the 2015-16 NOA’s Division 1 Best Opera Production competition.

“This is a win for all of Lawrence because opera is a huge, intricate event,” said Copeland Woodruff, who joined the college in the fall of 2014 as director of opera studies. “Opera incorporates all of the disciplines — singing, instrumental solo and ensemble, collaborative piano, theatre design and technical craft, acting, choreography, stage combat, research in history, literature, art, sociology, psychology and of course administrative assistance to make it all happen. We are so lucky to have such a supportive, collaborative environment at Lawrence that fosters this type of exploration.”

“Expressions of Acceptance” was a collaborative effort between Woodruff, Margaret Paek, director of Lawrence’s dance program and Matt Turner, director of the ensemble Improvisation Group of Lawrence University (IGLU) in conjunction with Lawrence’s student organization GLOW and Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities, Riverview Gardens and COTS. Through , 5-8 minute micro-operas, it examined issues and experiences that both bind people together as well as differentiate us. The pieces were perrformed in non-traditional places in the PAC, including stairwells, bathrooms and even an elevator.

“I am thrilled that our students’ talent is recognized and revered by our peers across the nation.”
      — Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies

This was the second year in a row Lawrence was recognized nationally for its opera program. In 2015, Lawrence earned first-place honors in the undergraduate division of the Collegiate Opera Scenes competition at the joint national conventions of NOA and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Lawrence’s 2015 production of “The Tender Land” earned second-place honors the NOA’s Best Opera Production competition.

A photo of Lawrence University students in the university's micro-opera.
Lawrence’s micro-opera production “Expressions of Acceptance” earned third-place recognition the National Opera Association’s Division 1 Best Opera Production competition.

“These awards allow our students to garner a idea of where they stand among their peers,” said Woodruff, who will accept the awards in person in January at the 2017 NOA national convention in Santa Barbara, Calif.  “I’m so proud of the dedication, hard work and long hours everyone devoted to crafting these memorable, landmark experiences. I am thrilled that our students’ talent is recognized and revered by our peers across the nation.

“Being remote from other opera companies and schools with opera programs, it is important for our students to participate in these competitions so that they can compare themselves with the pool of artists who will be their competitors for and colleagues in graduate schools, summer opera training programs and their eventual career,” Woodruff added.

The production competitions are based on an anonymously submitted video of the production. Judges, who are industry and academic professionals, base their decisions on criteria that includes musicianship of both singers and instrumentalists; dramatic credibility and characterization; production concept, staging and execution; and overall quality of the production. The scenes competition is based upon live performance at the national conference.

The divisions are based upon the size and scope of an institution’s music and opera program, level of vocal training of the singers and production budget.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Two Lawrence students earn first-place honors at state singing competition

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Nick Fahrenkrug.
Nick Fahrenkrug ’20

Lawrence University’s Nick Fahrenkrug and Froya Olson earned first-place honors at the annual Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition held Nov. 4-5 at UW-Milwaukee.

Fahrenkrug, a freshman from Davenport, Iowa, won the men’s first-year college classical division, while Olson, a senior from Dawson, Minn., won the women’s fourth/fifth-year classical division. They both received $150 for their winning performances.

In the finals, Fahrenkrug sang Gabriel Faure’s “Lydia” and Franz Schubert’s “Du bist du Ruh.” Olson performed “La statue de bronze” by Erik Satie and “Song to the Moon” from Antonin Dvořák’s opera “Rusalka.”

Fahrenkrug is a student of music professor John Gates while Olson studies in the voice studio of Karen Leigh-Post.

Five other Lawrence singers placed in the competition.

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Froya Olson.
Froya Olson ’17

Senior Lizzie Burmeister, junior Claire LaLiberte and sophomore Alex Quackenbush each earned second-place honors in their respective divisions. Freshman Victor Montanez Cruz in the freshman men’s classical division and Cristina Sada Segovia in the music theater division both earned third-place honors.

Lawrence was represented by 26 singers, 15 of which reached the semifinals and seven who reached the finals. The competition drew nearly 400 singers from around the state.

The NATS competition features 28 separate divisions grouped by gender and level. Depending upon the category, competitors are required to sing two, three or four classical pieces from different time periods with at least one selection sung in a foreign language.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.