College of Fine Arts: Unscientific greatness
This 2005?2006 academic year marks the Centennial of the College of Fine Arts. Mostly overshadowed by the academic gigantism of the computer science and engineering programs, this 100-year anniversary has progressed with relative silence. Considering the prestige associated with CFA in related professional fields, pervasive announcing of the importance of a thriving arts program on this campus is entirely warranted.
When design, architecture, art, music and drama combine, the whole is truly greater than the individual parts. These programs often work cross-departmentally, putting together projects and exhibitions for the entertainment and betterment of the community.
Recent CFA activities continue the tradition of purposeful endeavors. The Design and Architecture departments boast the joint institutional program ?Pittsburgh Synergy,? the Pittsburgh Solar Decathlon house, exhibiting how design and functionality can mesh seamlessly.
The School of Art, boasting such alumni as Andy Warhol, Mel Bochner, Joyce Kozloff, and Deborah Kass, is planning an exhibition in celebration of the Centennial, titled 100% Centennial! to open January 20, 2006.
The accolades continue in the schools of Drama and Music. The 2005 Tony Awards and Nominations list speaks to the thorough nature of the program. Cherry Jones received the award for Best Actress in a Drama. Sutton Foster was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical. Christian Borle received the Clarence Derwent Award in 2005 and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his work in Spamalot.
The prestige of the program has drawn renowned Broadway alumni back to Carnegie Mellon for collaborations. Consider the most recent production from the School of Music, A Chorus Line. The musical attracted Chet Walker ? a Broadway choreographer, director and performer ? to participate. Mr. Walker served as the choreographer and stage director. Walker?s numerous credits include the conception of choreography for the 1999 Tony award-winning musical Fosse.
A Chorus Line ran from October 27 to October 30 in Kresge Recital Hall. The buildup was such that Marvin Hamlisch, the musical?s original composer, attended a Saturday show. Hamlisch, currently the Pittsburgh Pops? principal conductor, has won four Emmys, three Oscars, four Grammys, one Tony, and three Golden Globe awards. Its prestigious attendees reflect the dedicated efforts of all involved in the production.
The effort was definitely felt, because A Chorus Line is a difficult production to undertake for voice students due to the complexity of the choreography. The student talent took this fact in stride, performing amicably and successfully.
A Chorus Line is presented as a series of stories told by hopeful dancers on the ?line? auditioning for a Broadway production. The show was exemplary, and two aspects of the production were incredibly striking.
Senior music major Monica Thakkar (Diana) featured ?Nothing,? a song performed with lucid emotion and such purposeful clarity that one could not help but be moved. Thakkar?s exuberance was defined, offered in a naked truth rarely observed.
In another showstopping performance, senior music major Tyler Ruebensaal performed a spoken monologue. This was easily the production?s high point. Ruebensaal (Paul) presents a monologue detailing the first, and only, work he could get to break into show business. Ruebensaal?s masterful performance had audience members choked up and tearful. Performances such as these highlight the exceptional talent one can experience when attending campus productions.
The fact is that one?s tuition goes to cover all the potential exposures and experiences that make higher education worthwhile. Academic development devoid of cultural exposure and human interaction cannot, and should not, be the aim of an institution at the university level.
There are those who think a singer?s development of vibrato is as equally amazing as the ability to command a remote-controlled Hummer. Those in appreciation of a worldly education should certainly agree.