The Festival of Arts and Ideas

Beginning in the fall of 2007 USAO began sponsoring a "Festival of Music and Ideas" series, called "The Five B's". Each trimester a week-long festival of lecture/concerts centered around the life and times of one of the five major composers; Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Bela Bartok and Leonard Bernstein.  The series, initiated by violinist and conductor Yuval Waldman, featured performances by him, USAO ensembles, music faculty members, students, and guest artists. Each festival explored the life and times of each composer through an interdisciplinary perspective, involving lectures and multimedia presentations designed to provide insight into relevant and related topics in history, politics, science, philosophy and other disciplines.  University faculty members from various disciplines presented lectures interspersed with music performances during each of the five nights of concerts each festival week.

The Festival of Music and Ideas now continues under the new title "Festival of Arts and Ideas", designed to incorporate various arts, but still including ideas presented by faculty members or guest presenters from various disciplines. The fall 2009 Festival of Arts and Ideas focused on Romanticism, primarily through the music of Felix Mendelssohn. However, the festival also included drama excerpts from Romantic writings; lectures on philosophic, historic, and scientific developments during the Romantic period; feminism as seen in the gothic novel, and the naturescapes of German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich.

The spring 2010 Festival, scheduled for March 5 and 6, will be held in conjunction with the university's African Symposium and will feature one night of native African arts and culture, and a second night highlighting the influence of African ideas on American arts and culture. Performers will include Jahruba, an African American drummer and story-teller, the USAO Concert Choir, the USAO Vocal Jazz Ensemble, guitarist Joe Settlemires, pianist Dr. Stephen Weber, pianist and staff accompanist Rhenada Finch, and student pianist Joshua Smith. Lectures will be presented on African Art, contributions in the sciences by Africans, and African society. Presenters include Dr. Dan Hanson, Dr. Jeanette Loutsch, and Dr. Stephen Kandeh. The festival will also include an excerpt from an African play and a fashion show of native African clothing. Come and see the interdisciplinary concept at work at USAO. You likely won't find this type interdisciplinary performance model anywhere else!