For the last 43 years, students from across all disciplines at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance have joined together to perform for sold-out crowds at Hill Auditorium for their annual showcase, the Collage Concert.

This year, Collage is taking on a new, virtual form — the virtuosic performances, however, remain the same.

“Collage 44: A Virtual Concert Experience” will premiere 8-9 p.m. April 18 on YouTube. The concert will feature performances by the Symphony Band, University Symphony Orchestra, Department of Jazz, U-M’s choral ensembles, the cast of the opera “Proving Up,” the musical theater class of 2024, and more.

Although tickets for past productions have been hard to secure due to the popularity of the event, this year’s performance is free and open to everyone.

“Watching this Collage Concert come together has been a source of deep inspiration and testimony to the enduring and persevering spirit of our students and their artistry,” said Mark Stover, assistant professor of conducting, associate director of choirs and co-conductor of this year’s concert at SMTD. “In a year where so much has been lost, what we have found is how our artistry is a true source of hope and catalyst for us to respond to the moment in which we find ourselves.

“Collage is a unifying experience for all of us who contribute to the rich community of SMTD, and in a year when we have been forced to engage at a distance, this production serves as a means to draw us close and to be reminded of the abundance that is expressed through the immense and diverse talents of our student community of artists.”

This photo is from a past Collage Concert, which generally takes place at Hill Auditorium and is one of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s most popular events each year. For the first time, this year’s event will be virtual. (Photo by Peter Smith Photography)
This photo is from a past Collage Concert, which generally takes place at Hill Auditorium and is one of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s most popular events each year. For the first time, this year’s event will be virtual. (Photo by Peter Smith Photography)

The virtual format has allowed students and faculty to think beyond the traditional boundaries of Collage, something that Collage co-conductor Richard Frey, associate director of the Michigan Marching and Athletic Bands, found uplifting for students and faculty alike during the pandemic.

“Collage has always been a virtuosic spectacle, but the context of our collective past 12 months gives this year’s student performances an entirely new frame,” he said. “Through the varied works included in the concert, the audience will see ‘behind the scenes’ into what dance theater and music-making have been during the pandemic.”

Frey said audiences can expect to see a variety of unique performances — 19 in total — including virtual choirs and ensembles, performances filmed using safety protocols on familiar campus stages, and intimate solos recorded and shot specifically for the digital frame.

“In each case the joyful acts of creating, sharing and connecting through our respective arts shine through these wonderful student performances,” he said.

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