Archive | April 2014

GPAC: A Game Changer For Huntsville, TX

By Cheval John

The Houston Symphony is one of the most recognizable orchestra in America and the world.

Every year, they perform concerts for thousands of people in the Houston area.

In their 100th year of operation, the Houston Symphony is getting better than ever.*

Recently, they held a concert in Huntsville, Texas.

You are reading that right, Huntsville, a small city located an hour north of Houston and has a population of close to 40,000.

You might be wondering: “Why on earth would they travel north to give a concert in Huntsville?”

The main reason is because of the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center (GPAC), located on the campus of Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville.

James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center (GPAC)

James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center (GPAC)

Opened in 2010, the GPAC is an 100,000 square foot building that houses the 800-seat David and Grettle Payne Concert Hall, where the Symphony performed, the 175-seat Recital Hall and the 160-seat Dance Theater.

Emily Binetti, Marketing Coordinator for SHSU’s College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication, says that the GPAC is a game-changer for the School of Music and the city of Huntsville.

“I think the School of Music is able to bring in more world-class guest artist like the Houston Symphony because of the beautiful Gaertner Performing Arts Center facility that we now have,” Binetti said. “The event that they just performed here, is an example of the kind of cultural offerings that we’re able to bring to the Huntsville community here at Sam Houston.”

The residents of Huntsville and the university community got an opportunity to hear the Symphony’s rendition of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” a 1723 violin concertos that is the most recognizable piece in the world.

The concert was led by violin soloist, Frank Huang.

Huang, a faculty member at Rice University, has performed around the world with orchestras that includes: the Cleveland and Genoa Orchestras, the NDR Radio Philharmonic of Hannover, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Saint Paul and Amadeus! Chamber Orchestras and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.*

In addition, Huang made national appearance on NPR’s Performance Today, Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning.

You would even be more surprised to find out that it was the Houston Symphony’s third time to perform in Huntsville in the last four years.

My guess is that they love the quality sound of GPAC’s concert hall.

GPAC's David and Grettle Payne Concert Hall

GPAC’s David and Grettle Payne Concert Hall

One thing is certain: It’s a huge benefit for Huntsville residents because they get a quality performance from one of the most recognizable orchestras in the world at nearly half the price.

It also elevates Huntsville as a hidden treasure for the performing arts.

“In the past 20 years, Huntsville’s arts scene has grown tremendously, especially for a small community like we have,” Binetti said. “The Houston Symphony concert is a good example of the events that Huntsville wants more of and that the School of Music is able to provide.”

*Both videos are courtesy of Houston Symphony Orchestra

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Wiz Khalifa, Capital Cities Leaves Great Impression On SHSU

By Cheval John

Over 5,100 students, faculty and staff were not disappointed with the Sammypalooza Concert featuring Capital Cities and Wiz Khalifa.

Recently, the concert was held at the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum on the campus of Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville, Texas.

Sammypalooza is a event that brings well known acts to the student body of SHSU.

Presenters who were part of the yearly event includes Ludacris, Mike Epps, Nick Kroll, Gabriel Iglesias, Aziz Ansari and Jack Ingram.

Many students were standing in line for about three hours hoping to get a front stage view of the artists.

Once inside, the atmosphere was rocking.

SHSU student Kelly Whitaker, who was covering the event for www.backstageol.com, said that having both Capital Cities and Wiz Khalifa was not only great for the university, but for the city of Huntsville.

“People come to this school thinking that it’s a prison city,” Whitaker said. “But then they see the campus and surrounding areas and think differently.”

It took months for SHSU’s Department of Student Activities to plan the concert.

The staff sent out a survey to the thousands of students using Facebook to get their input on who they wanted to see at the event.

Once that was decided, they got the ball rolling and from there, they worked with Ed Chatal, Associate Director of Facilities of Recreational Sports, who oversees the Coliseum in coordinating the stage setup and take down once the concert was over.

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Before Capital Cities stepped on stage, the song, “Don’t Know Much” by Aaron Neville and Linda Rondstadt was played to get everyone in the mood.

From that moment, the alternative rock band from Los Angeles belted out the tunes including their main hit, “Safe and Sound.”

Then the atmosphere got really electric when Wiz Khalifa came on stage and performed his many songs including “Work Hard, Play Hard,” and “Black and Yellow.”

One thing that I took away from the concert is that it is getting better year after year and that many people are discovering the hidden gems that the university community and the city has to offer.

SHSU student Hailey Porter, who was one of the “lucky” ones to get a front stage view of the artists, seems to agree.

“I think he (Wiz Khalifa) was a great choice,” Porter said. “He’s a great performer. The environment was awesome.”

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