Explore the Sound

When attending an event in Wentz Concert Hall on North Central College’s campus, you expect to see the performers on the stage or in the choral balcony.

However, at the college’s fifth annual “Explore the Sound” Concert, music emerged from unexpected locations including the audience balcony, the side-walkways, and in the aisles to show just how acoustically sound Wentz is.

“We try something new every year in terms of music, staging, and lighting. It’s a very creative endeavor,” said Dr. Ramona Wis, Chair and Professor of Music at North Central College. “The defining factor of this concert is that we are going to break some walls, some boundaries, some patterns and some traditions.”

The concert not only showcases the flexibility of the venue, but also the performers, which included the chamber singers, concert choir, women’s choral, as well as musicians with violins, flutes, and the piano.

“With this concert we can take a lot of liberties that we can’t take with our usual choral set up,” said sophomore member of the chamber singers, Fisher Parsons. “We’re all looking at each other and we can give each other cues. It adds that extra element of surprise, but it’s also nice to know that you can just rely on your fellow chorus members.”

When the concert hall opened, musicians and singers had to explore every corner of the building to see what they were working with. That exploration, in 2009, was presented to the public in a concert. It was such a success it has become an annual tradition.

“There were certain parts, that if they were singing behind me, I could really hear this part coming out so much more, just because of where they were positioned in the hall,” said 2012 North Central Alumni Sal Garza, who performed in the concert last year. He said being in the audience gave him a different perspective.

This year, those at the concert saw a new element involving iPads. Students improvised music using electronic sounds coming from the tablets.

The audience was also invited to contribute to certain pieces themselves by clapping and creating sounds to replicate wind.

“I would have a hard time picking out just one favorite,” said Naperville resident Mary O’Donnell. “I thought they were all excellent.”

The music department has already began planning how they will raise the bar next year.

The concert was part of the college’s Sounds of New Music Festival that allowed music students to learn from musicians and composers in a performance setting.

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