Faculty, students and donors of the University of Central Arkansas’ Department of Music gathered for a night of recognition and celebration on Nov. 5 in McCastlain ballroom, otherwise known as the Friends of Music Gala.
The evening was separated into two portions: dinner and dance. During the dinner, students showcased their talents for guests. From the UCA string chamber ensemble to piano pieces to a sneak peak at the
UCA music department’s collaboration with the Conway Symphony Orchestra for their performance of “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” guests were entertained.
Senior Veena Akama-Makia performed the song “All That Gold” from “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”
“I love that they have involved everyone who is involved in our Snow Fine Arts music department, whether directly or indirectly,” Akama- Makia said.
The dinner portion of the evening was under the command of UCA Board of Trustees member Joe Whisenhunt.
Whisenhunt drew attention to the silent auction of instruments in the lobby and faculty of the department.
“We were almost a full house for the dinner portion alone. It’s going to be a crowded room, the dance floor is going to be full and the jazz band plays great, so that’s a successful event,” he said.
Apart from faculty and students, supporters of the arts from all of central Arkansas gathered at the gala. Dancing troupes, the Conway Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre all reserved tables.
“We are invested in the music department and they are supportive of us so through that we have a collaborative effort where we understand that the arts are vital the community and the university. Everyone benefits,” Executive Director of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre Mary Ruth Marotte said.
The second portion of the evening displayed the talents of the UCA jazz ensembles. The UCA Dixieland Band and both jazz ensembles played a collection of big band jazz for the entertainment of guests.
The newly renovated McCastlain Ballroom floor was soon filled with faculty, students and guests. Paige Rose, chair of the UCA
Department of Music, said she was pleased with the turnout of the event.
After selling tickets to the event and honoring some faculty with their tickets, the dinner portion was attended by around 110 people.
The proceeds from the dinner reservations, donations and silent auction benefitted the Friends of Music Fund.
The Friends of Music Fund is an organization that works in conjunction with the department to raise money for new instruments such as the Steinway project, which is currently underway with the goal of upgrading all of the university’s pianos to Steinway pianos.
“Friends of Music is also focusing on events like this to put more money into scholarships for students and for faculty to travel. Often times, our faculty being nationally known and our students competing on a national level poses a problem because they don’t have a way to get to these places,” Rose said.
photo by Lauren Swaim