SF State celebrates Creative State Opening Day

Miles Jay (left) plays the buzuq as Tareq Rantisi (right) beats a drum during an Arabic music seminar in McKenna Theater on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. The seminar was part of Room for Hope, a festival celebrating Palestinian culture. Photo by Philip Houston / Xpress

Miles Jay (left) plays the buzuq as Tareq Rantisi (right) beats a drum during an Arabic music seminar in McKenna Theater on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. The seminar was part of Room for Hope, a festival celebrating Palestinian culture. Photo by Philip Houston / Xpress

Highlighted by the Alexander String Quartet and the world premiere of a composition by Pulitzer Prize-winning professor, Wayne Peterson, the University’s vibrant arts programs joined in the first ever Creative State Opening Day showcase on Sunday.

The main focus of the Creative State opening day was the season’s first Morrison Artist Series concert. However, most visitors arrived earlier for play readings, an art exhibit, film screenings, chorus rehearsal, poetry readings, a dance showcase, a live radio broadcast and a Gregorian chant, all of which were mostly performed by students and free to attend.

Sunday marked the first concert in the Morrison Artists Series for free chamber music for the current semester. The opening night was also an opportunity for the school to showcase the work of students from other programs at the University before the general public.

“It’s just very exciting to be able to show the diversity of the different parts that we have here at San Francisco State and to be able to share those with the public and the community in general,” said Todd Roehrman, associate dean at the University.

“We mainly came here for the Morrison Artist Series concert but arrived a few hours early to see everything else that was going on,” said Jone Broer, an attendee unaffiliated with the University, but an enthusiast of the performing arts.

The play readings led by professor Roy Conboy were written by SF State students part of the theater arts play development program. Similarly, the student poetry readings included handpicked poems by students who conveyed emotions of happiness and sorrow as they read aloud in the choir.

The Gregorian chant, that gathered a crowd of over 30 people in the Fine Arts Gallery, was performed by a group of students enrolled in a Gregorian chant class and their professor at the University.

“The one (chant) that was performed is in a collection of Italian materials called the de Bellis collection in the J. Paul Leonard Library,” said Mark Johnson, manager of the Fine Arts Gallery at SF State.

The students, along with professor Paul Ellison, dressed in all black, lined up against one wall in the Fine Arts Gallery and mesmerized their audience with a profound recitation of a chant that dates back to 1450. Ellison, a part-time lecturer for the history of music and the Gregorian chant choir at SF State, also included noted hand gestures and frequent bows during the performance in hopes of really incorporating the manner in which the chant was performed in the 15th century.

After the students wrapped up their performances, they joined the audience and eagerly walked over to the McKenna Theatre at SF State to sit through the final event of the day, the Morrison Artists Series concert.

“The Morrison Artists Series is the longest running chamber music concert series in San Francisco, featuring superb, admission-free performances by some of the world’s most acclaimed ensembles since 1955,” said Matt Itleson, publicist for the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at the University.

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