Grammy Award Winning baritone: Daniel Belcher

Grammy Award Winning baritone: Daniel Belcher

The University of West Florida’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts was host to the melodious vocals of Grammy award-winning baritone Daniel Belcher on Monday night, March 7.

Belcher has an extensive career in the performing arts that includes an array of operas and roles in productions such as “Nixon in China” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Belcher took to the Music Hall stage, performing works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Claudio Monteverdi, George Butterworth, Francis Polulenc and Gerald Finzi. Belcher was accompanied on piano by Blake Riley, assistant professor in the Department of Music.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Riley said. “He’s a very warm person and a strong performer. It’s easy to work with someone who knows what they want, and can express that intuitively rather than verbally.”

Even with the grandeur of UWF’s music hall, Belcher was able to give a performance that still felt intimate to the audience.

“His voice is so full; it’s from the bottom and he has a very rich expression,” student Marty Glover said. “His emphasis is really good.”

Belcher took a break from his career in music to spend some time with up-and-coming music students at UWF. He was invited by the Department of Music to perform, and once the dates were established, the department went to work putting together the show.

“I’m thrilled that there’s great interest in the classical arts,” Belcher said. “It’s very important given our political climate. We’re reminded that there’s some beauty instead of just anger.”

Belcher has had the opportunity to perform all over the country in venues such as Carnegie Hall, but even on a college campus he had no problem sharing his gift on stage before a crowd of college students.

“I’m 45 and still feel like I’m playing in the land of make-believe. I get to sing this music and create characters,” Belcher said. “There is a lot of great talent out there, and unfortunately because of economic conditions, not everyone gets the chance to do what I do, so I feel that it’s my responsibility to use it.”

Following a performance medley of classical works, Belcher returned to the stage for an encore performance of “What a Wonderful World,” made famous by Louie Armstrong. He used the song as tribute to his mother-in-law, who died two years ago.

“Since it was two years ago to the month she died, I considered it to be a love song to her,” Belcher said. “Her death was so sudden, that it’s nice that a piece of music can remind me of her.”

For more about Belcher, including videos of some of his performances, visit his professional website. For the schedule of upcoming Department of Music concerts and performances, visit the department’s website.piano-768x590

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Argo volleyball closes season with a bang

Argo volleyball closes season with a bang

Argo volleyball closes out regular season with a bang

 

The No. 22-ranked University of West Florida volleyball team swept Gulf South Conference opponents this weekend: North Alabama and Alabama Huntsville 3-0 at home on both Friday evening and Saturday afternoon to wrap up the regular season.

Friday’s win over North Alabama clinched the team’s spot in the GSC and moved them to the top of the conference. The heavy hitters from that match were UWF seniors Autumn Duyn and Colleen Starrs. Duyn had eight kills and a team-high 16 digs on the night while Starrs added eight digs and three service aces. Both players were honored before the game for their contributions to the UWF volleyball program.

The Argos won each set (25-16, 25-19, and 25-17) with 41 kills, six aces, 10 blocks, and 37 assists.

The Argos’ successes led into Saturday, when the ladies dominated yet another opponent. UWF took on Alabama Huntsville at home for their regular season closer. The Lady Argos came out strong, with excellent blocking and strong assists. The players who came out on top in this game were junior Corisha Smith, who had an impressive 15 kills with only one attack error on 26 swings. Smith also was effective from the service line with four aces in the win. Junior Kathryn Torre had 11 kills with two attack errors on 25 swings with three blocks.

The Lady Argos swept these opponents as well (25-19, 25-19, and 25-15), with the team earning 48 kills, nine aces, nine blocks and 45 assists.

“Any time you can sweep opponents at this time of the year, you’ve got to perform really well,” Head Coach Melissa Wolters said. “I thought that last night and tonight we performed well in different ways, they played loose and had fun.”

Following a successful regular season, the Lady Argos are now turning their attention to the Gulf Southern tournament, which is being hosted here at UWF. The ladies fell short of a conference title last year, but Wolters and her team have high hopes for this year’s matchups. “We hope to win it. We fell short last year, and we’re hoping to get it back,” Wolters said. “We’ve made changes over the last 11 months. It’s a mindset and a hunger, and they have different drive after letting it slip away last year. We’ll train hard this week. We have to make sure they’re mentally prepared as well as physically prepared.”

It appears the players share a similar sentiment. “We going to go all in, we’re feeling pretty confident,” junior Holly Mattmuller said.

The Lady Argos’ next opponents will be determined pending other conference results. The Lady Argos finish out their season ranked 22 in the nation, with a record of 27-5 and 19-1 in the GSC.

For the conference schedule and other information, visit the volleyball team website.

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Argo volleyball scores 300th win

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UWF Singers and Chamber choir hit all of the right notes in their fall concert

UWF Singers and Chamber choir hit all of the right notes in their fall concert

Kenny Detwyler

Contributing Writer

The harmonious voices of the UWF Singers and Chamber Choir filled the Center of Fine and Performing Arts on Monday. The vocalists, under the direction of Peter Steenblik, presented their fall concert, entitled “Lullabies, Love Songs, and Requiems: a Poetic Journey.”

The UWF Singers are a group of 30 selected singers, while the Chamber Choir features an ensemble of 10 from that same group. They were accompanied on piano by Bolton Ellenburg.

The concert featured the vocalists singing verses from a few of the most iconic names in in the world of poetry, such as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Georg Friedrich Daumer, and Ogden Nash, all of which were set to music.

Featured in the concert were five sets of music, each with a different theme. This included songs such as a salute to the cities in the Panhandle and the Star Spangled Banner. An audience favorite was the finale performance of “Jabberwocky,” written by Lewis Carroll.

“The ending was amazing. It was a perfect way to top it off,” student Daniel Stiles said. When talking about the finale, student Eva Duga could only use the word “fantastic” to describe it.

The UWF Singers have spent many weeks preparing for the evening.

“From day one to the present, we learned a lot of music,” freshman Eric Keeton said, of singing his first concert with the group. “Seeing the different ensembles come together was very exciting.”

“Going from rehearsal to performance is always difficult, because the rehearsal space is always more forgiving,” said vocalist Jordan Harell.

If the thunderous standing ovation the singers received at the end of the show was any indication, the UWF Singers and Chamber Choir handled their transition from rehearsal to stage with perfection.

While the event was free to the public, the music department still operated under a ticket system. This was partly to gauge interest in events like this being held on campus.

“I think it’s important to support the arts, because music is one of those things that communicates to everyone,” student Meredith Stemen said. “The singers were being expressive and showing their emotions, and I could understand what they were singing about.”

The musical journey presented in the concert did not end on Monday. A highly anticipated continuation of the show will be performed on at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Old Christ Church in downtown historic Pensacola.

For a schedule of concerts and events in the Department of Music, visit their website.

 

 

 

UWF Singers and Chamber Choir hit all the right notes in their fall concert

UWF Art Gallery’s ‘Synthesis’ gallery

UWF Art Gallery’s ‘Synthesis’ gallery

Kenny Detwyler

Contributing Writer

On Thursday, a new arts showcase took up residency in The Art Gallery (TAG) in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The “Synthesis” exhibit is a collection of artwork by six graduating seniors in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at UWF. This selective program is one for which students must apply and be accepted.

For these students — Andrew Adamson, Kenneth Jordan, Evan Glenny, Elizabeth Guerry, Abigail Harrell and Colleen Jennings — this is a finale of sorts to their artistic career at UWF. “They typically have two years to create a body of work that is essentially their thesis,” said Gallery Director Nicholas Krogin. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch them begin from sophomore level. I’ve had the chance talk about their ideas and their concepts, and what the best way to communicate their ideas is.”

The graduating seniors come from various backgrounds, and each brought unique perspectives to the exhibit. Jordan said it was his desire to “bring back poetry through the visual materialization of psychological isolation and desensitization of sensuality.” He did this through elaborate oil paintings that grace the walls of TAG. Adamson used ceramics in his works that he described as “ambiguous narratives based on past experiences.” Jennings tackled issues of the environment with her exhibit “Products That Ruined the World.”

After working for more than a year on their artwork, it’s no surprise that the artists are passionate about their work. Gurry used her section of the exhibition as a tribute to a grandparent and how dementia has impacted her family; hence the title of her project, “Nana.” She created drawings that represented memories in the human brain.

Harrell’s exhibit, entitled “Made Up,” is project that focuses on makeup usage and the societal beauty standards for women. She was photographed numerous times with varying degrees of makeup in order to show the different standards of beauty that exist in society. “I wanted to do a project based on how people perceive me. I believe that people have different definitions of the word beauty. It’s different for every culture.” Harrell said. “I wanted to emphasize that, because people put too much emphasize on how they look.”

Glenny used her piece of the gallery, “Moist Fur,” to discuss concepts of gender, sexuality, brutality, and discomfort in a way that grasps the viewers’ attention. “I am transgender, and I’ve been struggling with that for a long time, and I don’t typically do personal work. It’s autobiographic for me, and I hope it goes well.” Glenny also said that the characters and imagery were chosen “because of their relationship with aggression, masculinity and the artificial selection that has rendered them all functionally impotent.”

Overall the gallery gives the seniors a chance to shine and to show off some of the hard work they’ve put into the art program. Thursday’s reception was the opening of the exhibit and had strong attendance.

The gallery also was the subject of praise from those who saw it. “I’ve never been to an art gallery, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s really incredible,” student Kelsey Lee said.

“It’s really intense in here. There’s a lot to take in,” said student Sara Omlor.

“There’s a lot of variety,” said student Courtney Dwhitworth. “We see our own work within the classroom setting, but to see everyone’s work together in the gallery is very cool.”

The “Synthesis” exhibit will be on display until Dec. 12 at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. For more information about TAG, visit the website or the gallery’s blog.

UWF’s Art Gallery presents works of graduating seniors in ‘Synthesis’ exhibit