SCOTT EICHINGER, Manager of Individual Donor Relations, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
One night, late in the summer of 1995, I took my grandmother Audrey to see a local theatre company’s production of the musical, The Secret Garden. I thought it would be a great treat for her. She enjoyed the movie version of the classic story and she had never seen a musical on stage. As we sat in the theatre and the lights went down, she took my hand and held it through the entire performance.
…I found myself watching her take in the performance. She was transfixed! There was magic in her eyes.
DAVID ROBINSON-SLEMP, Associate Director of Development, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
In 2009, I attended The Royal Ballet’s production of A Month in the Country by Sir Frederick Ashton. This was the first ballet that I had attended since childhood and one of the few I had ever attended willingly. The performance took place at the Kennedy Center only a day after a horrible Metro crash in D.C. that killed nine people and the company dedicated the performance to those who had died.
The dancers performed with incredible grace and finesse, as well as with “superhero-like” agility. I would later describe their synchronicity as almost transcending human ability.
SCOTT AUCOIN, BM Candidate in Composition and BME in Music Education, UMD School of Music
One of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had was hearing a recording of the Britten War Requiem. It was my sophomore or junior year, an informal assignment from my composition teacher. I don’t think he knew it would turn into this profound thing for me.
That experience changed my ideas about music and the way music can affect you.
CARMEN BALTHROP, Soprano, Professor of Voice, UMD School of Music
The most moving experience I’ve ever had actually didn’t happen on stage.
The story starts when I was eight years old. My father had a radio and television shop in the basement of our home where he would just tinker around with things, lots of machines that had lights, knobs and dials.
I think what happened in that instant was that I was awakened to the idea that singing — singing in that style — was something I could do.
DR. MAYRON TSONG, Associate Professor, Artist Teacher, Piano, UMD School of Music
Some years ago, I gave concert at an Arts College in Yunnan province, China. Because there was no heat and the concert was in December, it was terribly cold in the hall. My parents were with me and my mother insisted that I wear sweaters underneath my concert dress, so I looked quite huge, but at least I was warm enough, or so I hoped! My hands and fingers were cold and stiff and I feared the concert would not go well.
They were draped with blankets and they wore big coats, hats and gloves, yet the mood was good, even excited…They were all freezing but everyone stayed until the end of the concert.
LYNDSEY GORE, Production Coordinator, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
My friend Jill had worked with the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap for years, and after weeks of her hounding, I braved a sweltering September day for its final showcase. I marveled as young Hawaiians, South Koreans, Turks and Qataris boldly shared their cultures in joyful song and dance, seemingly unaware of the tumultuous relationships that their countries are known for. Beaming, I ran backstage to congratulate Jill’s team, just as the back door burst open with a gust of wind.
As I watched him walk away, I believed it too, and that belief fuels my chosen work to this day.
LIZ LERMAN, Choreographer
I was at a concert by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at Brandeis University in 1968. One of the pieces they performed was “How to Pass, Fall, Kick and Run” with composer John Cage, Merce’s long-time collaborator, as part of the performance.
That was the moment I said “okay” to myself. It was beautiful, and possible.
RONIT EISENBACH, Architect + Artist, Associate Professor of Architecture, UMD School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
When I was a young college student at the Rhode Island School of Design, there was a lecture by John Cage. I didn’t know who he was and I had no idea what to expect. I just remember him sitting at a table at the bottom of this great auditorium, which was completely filled with people, and he told us that because we were students who might become makers ourselves someday, he wanted to explain something he was going to do.
…I was zoning in and out, sometimes frustrated, sometimes bored. But every once in a while, a phrase made sense and stimulated my own thoughts.
GABRIELLA MEITERMAN-RODRIGUEZ, Dance Student, UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
When I was younger, I had to perform an improvised dance solo and I was really nervous because at that time my confidence level in my own dancing was not where it is now. But my professor believed in me so much that he decided to make a fool of himself with me and improvise with me. My solo turned into a duet and it just became really fun, really free, and that’s how I feel with dance now. He basically pushed me light years ahead of myself at a young age.
It’s one of the best things ever, knowing your teachers believe in you and are willing to put themselves out there with you.
BOBBY ASHER, Associate Director of Artistic Initiatives, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
When I was five years old, a man joined the church where I went with my parents. He played the trumpet during services, and as soon as I heard that sound I knew that I wanted to play. A couple of weeks later I cut up an old water hose and made a trumpet. A few months after that, my parents bought me a used cornet from a pawn shop. I was on my way.
All of the experiences in my life…can in some way be traced back to that moment.