Oglethorpe Partners with Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Capitol City Opera

conant1Oglethorpe University has partnered with three leading Atlanta arts organizations—the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, the Horizon Theatre Company, and Capitol City Opera Company—to present performances and provide educational opportunities for students of all ages at the Conant Performing Arts Center.

“With the unfortunate dissolution of Georgia Shakespeare in the fall, we were committed to exploring new partners in the arts that were not only rooted in excellence and quality, but also would offer significant hands-on learning opportunities for our students and complement our theatre and music programs,” said Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall.

The Alliance Theatre will host three camps at Oglethorpe during summer 2015, two geared towards primary school children and the third for high schoolers. Oglethorpe theatre majors will be hired as teaching assistants for each of these camps, which will run for two weeks. Each camp experience will culminate in a showcase performance. In January, leaders from The Alliance served as judges and mentors for prospective theatre students during the Oglethorpe Theatre Scholarship Competition.

The Horizon Theatre Company will bring a multi-week run of their summer production, Avenue Q, to the Conant Performing Arts Center, starting in June 2015. Specific dates and further details will be announced soon. Two Oglethorpe theatre students will have the opportunity to be on stage for this production. Lisa and Jeff Adler, co-artistic directors at Horizon Theatre, also participated in this year’s Oglethorpe Theatre Scholarship Competition.

Oglethorpe’s relationship with Capitol City Opera has grown over years. Capitol City Opera now presents multiple performances annually in Oglethorpe’s Conant Performing Arts Center, in both the spring and the fall. The Opera also offers internship opportunities for Oglethorpe students and ticketing benefits for the campus community. Capitol City Opera’s next performances at the Conant Performing Arts Center will be The Abduction from the Seraglio, from March 27th through 29th, and Hansel & Gretel on March 28th.

“Oglethorpe has a long history of offering distinctive arts experiences for both the campus and the larger community,” said President Schall. “These partnerships will help to ensure that continues.”

Pursuit of Passion: Musical Performances at Oglethorpe

Dr. Ray leads the musical accompaniment at Oglethorpe's 2012 Commencement.

Dr. W. Irwin Ray, director of musical activities, shines as a source of inspiration for his students. His love for the arts is evident, and he hopes to instill in his students a similar passion.

“I think everyone needs to figure out what they love daily,” he says. “If you’re passionate about doing something, you will do it well…”

His own passion propelled him to pursue a career in music and to dedicate himself to advancing students’ education and music appreciation.

“I really believe in our school,” said Dr. Ray, who teaches music classes and conducts the University Singers and Chorale. “This where I need to be and where I want to be… I feel like I’m making a difference in (students’) lives.”

Dr. Ray also leads the effort for Oglethorpe’s music programming, finding outside professional groups to perform on campus. He brings these musicians to campus in part to inspire his students and give them the opportunity to hear a variety of music, courtesy of bands, orchestras, opera companies and more.

“We try to look for programs with connections to majors, preferably Core,” said Dr. Ray. “I make sure they all meet the highest standard of quality… Many classes build their lectures around the performances.”

One such performer was alumnus John Burke ’11, whom Dr. Ray describes as “amazing.”  Thanks to Dr. Ray’s efforts to find these performers, 70% of music students, such as John, continue to embrace music in their post-grad lives.

This month, Dr. Ray has invited two stellar acts to the Oglethorpe campus: the Atlanta Concert Band and the Capitol City Opera. He describes the Atlanta Concert Band as being “for band music what the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is to orchestral music,” and adds that “the Capitol City Opera is a (local and inexpensive) showcase for good people in Atlanta… it has a great reputation.”

In order to encourage these musicians to perform, Dr. Ray has adopted a process of co-sponsorship. This means that performers are given a discount to use the Conant Center for Performing Arts in exchange for allowing the Oglethorpe community to listen for free (with a Petrel Pass!). On May 4, 2013, Georgia Philharmonic will also be on campus as part of a co-sponsorship, and Dr. Ray has more plans in the works, including an international music presentation.

“These performances help (advance) education,” said Dr. Ray, “and build a really great experience and public image… I believe that a university should offer a wakening of not only learning but lifelong passions.”

Be sure to come out to the Atlanta Concert Band’s performance on March 9 in Conant at 8 pm, and attend the Capitol City Opera performances on March 15 and 16 at 8 pm, and March 17 at 3 pm, also in the Conant Performing Arts Center!