VAPA music festival part of 50 year celebration

April 13, 2015

April Wefler
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A ragtime guitar and xylophone duo, traditional Balinese music and a Grammy award winner are only a few of the featured performances for Visual and Performing Art’s Peak FreQuency Music Festival, which runs through April 25.

The music festival is in alignment with the 50th anniversary of UCCS. VAPA hopes to make it an annual event.

“The musicians we’re bringing to campus are absolutely incredible, stellar, out-of-this world. We’re bringing some really beautiful top-notch performers,” said Jane Rigler, assistant professor of Music.

“It’s something unique to the community. Colorado Springs … has been diversifying in different ways and I think more exposure to art … is necessary in community building,” said Putu Hiranmayena, a performer.

VAPA usually has a series of concerts spread throughout the year. But this is the first time they have had several concerts in a short period of time.

“There’s a certain kind of energy you get when you pull all kinds of people together and you have a very intensive period of concerts over a few days,” said Colin McAllister, VAPA music program coordinator.

On April 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall Auditorium, the VAPA Music scholarship ensemble will perform original compositions.

The VAPA Music Alumni Concert follows on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall Auditorium. Performing alumni include Britt Ciampa and Hiranmayena on drums/ percussion, Elizabeth Erickson on piano and Jay Baker on bass.

“The [alumni] are probably more or less our most successful and some of the best musicians that have come from the program,” said Glen Whitehead, VAPA music director.

Ciampa, class of 2013, has been playing the drums for 13 years.

“He’s one of the finest drummers I’ve ever come across as a student,” Whitehead said.

Hiranmayena, class of 2011, integrates percussionist and orchestral instruments with traditional Balinese music. Erickson experimented with prepared piano as an undergraduate at UCCS, which involves playing objects into the piano strings. Erickson is working on using vibrating motors and magnets in the strings.

Baker lives in Albuquerque and performs music professionally.

“[He] is the best bass player to come out of this program,” said Whitehead.

Along with their solo performances, the alumni are constructing a piece through email to be played as an ensemble.

“The entire concert will be a reflection of our different approaches of structuring in compositional forms. It’ll be four people on stage that are communicating in a language that doesn’t exist, yet,” Ciampa said.

He said that none of them will know how the entire piece sounds until they start playing together.

Composer Phillip Blackburn, along with music faculty and students, will perform original compositions on April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall Auditorium.

The concert also includes a screening of Blackburn’s film, “The Sun Palace,” based on the history of Cragmor Sanatorium.

Acclaimed percussionist Morris Palter and acclaimed saxophonist Rhonda Taylor will perform on April 23 at 7:30 p.m. in University Hall 168. The event celebrates the grand opening of “The Loading Dock,” the music program’s new music event space.

Additionally, Palter and McAllister will perform together, with McAllister on guitar and Palter on xylophone.

On April 24 at 7:30 p.m., Grammy award winner Cuong Vu and his trio will perform with Richard Karpen at The Mezzanine, located at 415 Sahwatch St.

The festival concludes with an ensemble featuring performers of the last two concerts and Rigler in the UCCS television studio in the El Pomar Center. They will perform compositions by Whitehead and Matthew Burtner.

Burtner records environmental sounds and creates a soundtrack for the live instruments to play over.

“I think it’s going to be some cool and pretty interesting music. I mean, when’s the last time you heard a piece that used environmental sounds in recordings?” McAllister said.

“I hope [students] gain a new perspective on something in music that they haven’t heard before,” he said.

The festival is free for students. More information can be found at