Breanna Herring

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Hi, My name is Breanna! I am currently a Sophomore at UNC Charlotte. My major is Psychology with a minor in Child & Family Development. I love to read and play different musical instruments!

McColl Artist-in-Residence Liz Miller and students create “Obsolescence”

Have you ever wanted to time travel? Maybe go kick it with the cavemen, retake that 8 a.m. exam or get a glimpse of your future? Although this is all fabrication, I did experience something close to it.

On Oct. 31, I went to an art exhibition on campus in the Rowe Galleries. McColl Artist-In-Residence Liz Miller worked with the students in the mixed-media/print media class to create a project called “OBSOLESCENCE.”

The class was divided into three groups and given a prompt to create a mixed-media installation for the Rowe Gallery. The vision and focus was placed on the past, present and future. The instructors, Maja Godlewska and Erik Waterkotte, gave each group a task to portray a different period of time. The focused concepts consisted of biogeography, the disturbance of ecology, global warming and the destructive behavior of mankind. The purpose of the installation is to hopefully open the viewers’ eyes to the biosphere and the rest of the environment.

In regards to the objective of the assignment, Waterkotte stated: “We developed some themes around different ideas of past, present and future. In the gallery, part of the challenge of the students is to create artwork that also engages and directs the viewers.”

In addition, Godlewska said: “This semester, we had the opportunity to work with a visiting artist from the McColl Center For Art + Innovation, Liz Miller. We thought that this would be perfect for our mixed-media/print media class. The students will create something that will be three-dimensional, but it will involve a little bit of painting, print-media and immersive installation.”

Photos by Leysha Caraballo.

The students that worked on the exhibit were Meredith Brown, Christina Carsley, Chauncey Carter, Melissa Curry, Ashley Dennis, Abe Ekren, Justin Hicks, Nicole Miller, Luke Russell, Julius Shumpert and Lily Xiong.

Walking into the exhibit, I was completely impressed. There were all types of cloths coming down from the ceiling. To my left was a sculpted cave coming out of the wall with attached cave hands. It was obvious to me that it was meant to signify one of the event’s themes: the past.

As I moved around, I couldn’t help but notice vibrant colors. The cloths hanging from the ceiling in that area were green and earthy. The wall was entirely covered with different colored paper. My intuition gave me the notion of the present. I felt that this section’s purpose was to show the beautiful aspects of our biosphere, such as vibrant-colored flowers, green vegetation and earthy soil. I got Poison Ivy vibes — pun intended for my “Batman” fans.

Turning my head, there was a shift in the art. There was no sign of vibrant colors and vegetation. The walls became gray and white with fading urban cities. The cloths consisted of tiny photographs and lights. In the middle of the floor was a pile of broken gadgets. I immediately picked up retro vibes and saw into the future. The message was loud and clear: our obsession with technology may be the destruction of our biosphere.

When talking about her vision, Miller stated: “I hope that the viewer walks away from my work seeing something in a new way. I think that not every viewer will get the same thing from the experience. Someone might walk in and might think it’s beautiful. Another might walk in and [it] might cause them to think about changes in the natural environment. But I hope that they have some response.”

The art exhibition was a great experience. I thought displaying concepts from the past, present and future was genius. It really opens your eyes to how society has shifted. The important components that stood out to me were the cavemen hands, the beautiful scene of Mother Nature and a glimpse of the destruction of our biosphere. I definitely love viewing art that makes you think. To keep it real with you, I had to ponder about the message behind the art, but I think that is the beauty of it all. Everyone has the freedom to form their own perspective and connect with art in a different way. I praise all who were involved in this project. Make sure to go and support the arts.

The Jazz Arts Initiative presents ‘The Jazz Room Series: Trick or Treat Edition II’

Featured photo courtesy of Blumenthal Performing Arts and the Jazz Arts Initiative.

It is officially spooky season! So what exactly does that look like? Scarecrows, monsters, witches, scary movies, pumpkins and college students’ grades dropping? If you think about it, does jazz come across your mind?

The Jazz Arts Initiative is a non-profit organization that consists of musicians, educators and individuals who want to contribute to Charlotte’s growing art culture. It is vital to develop an audience for jazz through music education, performance opportunities and musician support. “The Jazz Room” is a series created by the organization designed to showcase talented musicians from across the world. They have shows all throughout the year with different themes. For the fall season, the themed concert was called “Trick or Trick Edition II.”

The President and CEO of Jazz Arts Initiative is Mrs. Lonnie Davis. Davis has a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Music. She also attended the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, where she studied music. Davis has also been involved in various leadership activities within the community, such as Leadership Charlotte and Class XXXII. On top of this, she is also a skilled jazz flutist.

When asked about “The Jazz Room” series, she stated, “My favorite aspect of this program is to bring musicians together. Often times, they meet for the first time and come from different cities. It is really about forming a stronger bond between both regional and local artists. And outside of that, I love seeing the audiences’ faces when they hear these great musicians and educating them on jazz.”

I went to see the Halloween-themed concert on Friday, Oct. 19 at 8:15 p.m. It was held in the Booth Playhouse at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The building itself was incredibly beautiful. The room was mainly dark. The stage was lit with different colors, such as orange, red, green and purple. The decorations consisted of mini jack-o-lanterns, a screen with halloween pictures and candles. There were tables out in the lobby with black cloths and candy on top. To my surprise, there was a small bar right beside the stage. The adults would casually purchase an alcoholic beverage during the performances.

The concert was fun and I enjoyed myself. The band consisted of a drum player, bass player, pianist, trumpet player and saxophone player. There were also three vocalists that were featured throughout the concert. They all performed Halloween-themed jazz classics, such as songs from “West Side Story,” “Halloween Theme” by John Carpenter, and songs by Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, etc. It gave me goosebumps. My favorite part was the recital of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The vocalist recited the poem as the band gave chilly background noise to enhance the thrill. The audience loved every moment of it. They clapped, snapped and hollered. Some people got up to dance a little. Everyone would usually turn to have a light conversation with their neighbor. The whole atmosphere that night was relaxing and “jazzy.” The performers did an encore performance since the audience wanted to hear more music.

The only thing that I did not like about the concert was the absence of programs. I wish I had received a hard-copy program that had a layout of all of the selections that were performed; it would have been nice if I had known the names of the songs. Granted, someone did announce the name of the song about to be performed, but let’s be honest here…who actually pays attention to people talking during a jazz concert? We are here for the jazz and tune out everything else. I also wanted to know more information about the musicians. I wish there was a list of their names with a brief biography and social media account. They were all just incredible musicians. I genuinely wanted to research about them but I did not have a program in my hand.

Overall, I would most definitely recommend the Jazz Room series. It is a great way to experience live music performances and be introduced into the jazz world. Music is when we all can come together and enjoy life, and I must say, they must have put a spell on me because I am going to their next concert!

Dr. Eric Millard: A Music Phenomenon

Photo courtesy of Dr. Eric Millard

The lights of the recital hall slowly dim. The stage then lights up and draws attention to the unoccupied trumpet and piano. The vacant room quickly fills with excited music lovers, and the clock strikes 7:32 p.m. Eric Millard and his accompanist walk onto the stage. Silence falls upon the crowd. Both musicians give each other a reassuring head nod as they turn to their first musical selection. The piano starts, the trumpet follows and the magic soon began.

Dr. Eric Millard is the Visiting Instructor of Trumpet at UNC Charlotte. He received his Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from Florida State University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Millard has performed with various groups, such as the Charlotte Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho, Pensacola Symphony, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Northwest Florida Symphony and Albany Symphony. During his solo career, he has been awarded prizes at eminent competitions. For instance, the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition, NTC, Music Teachers National Association Solo Competition and the U.S. Army Band National Collegiate Solo Competition. His students are known to be selected for honors and have won prestigious awards.

Millard has been playing the trumpet since the fourth grade. He was inspired to play a musical instrument by his older sister, a clarinet player. He described his journey to becoming a successful musician as almost an “obsession.” He stated that he puts 100% commitment into everything and remains driven to accomplish his goals to be the best. To become a triumphant teacher and soloist, it took hours practicing everyday. The weekends and holidays were no exception to this cardinal rule. Despite all of that, Millard views the process as doing what he is passionate about, which is music.

“To me, being a musician is about conveying an idea or connecting with the audience. A medicine for the soul. Music is our ability to connect with other human beings,” he said.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte was blessed with a performance by Eric Millard, alongside pianist Amy Nungesser, on Sept. 25. It was a part of the Faculty and Friends Concert Series hosted by the Department of Music. The program consisted of four musical selections from varying time periods. The dynamic duo both gave breathtaking performances, leaving the audience speechless and astonished.

The concert started with Jean Hubeau’s “Sonate pour Trompette chromatique at Piano,” a three movement sonata with a Sarabande, an Intermède and a Spiritual. During the Sarabande, Millard demonstrated a tremendous control of sound. In the Intermède, he effortlessly showcased his ability to play in both the low ranges and high ranges. Each note had the perfect pitch and fullness to appease even the heavens above. The techniques displayed in the first two movements were combined together in the last movement. The Spiritual was hymn-like and a beautiful unison between the trumpet and piano.

The second selection was “Concerto in D Major (After Vivaldi), BWV 972,” by J.S. Bach (with arrangements by Alan Chen). It consisted of three movements: Allegro, Andante and Allegro assai. The Allegro was vibrant and played with liveliness. Dr. Millard easily played the 16th-note runs like a flash of lightning. The Andante displayed a relatively moderate, slow pace. Millard had an impeccable tone quality, ending with a perfect whispered note. The Allegro assai picked up the speed again and ended with a dynamic fortissimo note.

Astor Piazzolla’s “Adios Nonino” had a sad melodic essence with a taste of Argentinian Tango. The translation of the title means “Farewell,” a tribute to Piazzolla’s late father. Dr. Millard played with such passion and melancholy that you could almost feel it. He did an excellent job of conveying Piazzolla’s grief and nostalgia through his notes.

The last selection, and Millard’s personal favorite, was “Centennial Horizon” by Kevin McKee. Millard gave the following statement, “I think what is really effective about his music and what makes it fun for performers and audience is that he is trying to portray something that we can all relate to.” The piece itself was extremely lyrical and had a graceful tone that filled the room. The purpose was to convey a Colorado scenery through the music. McKee wanted the audience to experience the beauty of the nature: the mountains, the white water rivers and the aspen trees. It was through Millard that his mission was successful.

Dr. Eric Millard put on a remarkable performance. He was able to captivate each of the composers’ visions through his trumpet and played each selection exquisitely. The recital hall seemed to ring with beautiful sounds from the gates of the heavens. The audience gave a standing ovation as Millard walked off the stage. It was a great evening of good-quality music.