Behind the curtain: A sneak peek into this fall’s Hop productions

The Hopkins Center for the Arts will be offering a wide array of musical, theatrical and dance performances this fall.

by Farah Lindsey-Almadani | 8/31/22 1:10am

8-15-22-katelynhadley-spaulding
Spaulding Theater
by Katelyn Hadley / The Dartmouth

This article is featured in the 2022 Freshman special issue.

For many students, the beginning of college signals new opportunities — whether that be taking classes in unfamiliar departments, venturing off campus into the Upper Valley or simply trying a new hobby. If you’re looking to dip your toes into Dartmouth’s arts and performance scene, we’ve got you covered. At the southern end of the campus is the Hopkins Center for the Arts — commonly known as the Hop — a center for artistic production on campus. The Hop hosts a variety of  events year-round, and there is no shortage of ways to get involved.

Major events this term 

At the start of the fall term, the Hop’s first two offerings explore the contemporary Black experience in America. The first event of the term will be “The Ritual of Breath Is the Rite to Resist” on Sept. 16 and 17, a workshop and performance meant to serve as an “offering” and “call to justice” that responds to the 2014 murder of Eric Garner. The following weekend, on Sept. 23 and 24, Camille A. Brown & Dancers will take the stage in a “dance journey through the African American experience.”

Looking into October, the Hop will be hosting the The Brentano String Quartet, an award-winning group that performed in Carnegie Hall in New York City. During their Oct. 1 performance, The Quartet will begin with a “contrasting, yet complimentary, mix of early English works for consort of viols and songs” and then end with “Dido’s Lament,” a piece from the opera “Dido and Aeneas.” 

On Oct. 6,  the Manchester Collective Sirocco, a British group, will be joined by South African cellist Abel Selaocoe. The Collective will present classic Danish and African folk songs, while Selacoe will perform original compositions. On Oct 15, award-winning flutist Nicole Mitchell, alongside the Black Earth Ensemble — which Mitchell founded in 1998 — will perform, honoring African-American folklore through music. 

The final event will be the Dartmouth Dance showcase by student-led dance groups on campus, hosted by the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble. Students can fill out an interest form on the Hop’s website to participate and learn more about joining the Hop’s student ensembles. 

In an email statement, box office manager Brian Shaw wrote that students receive a “large discount for tickets.” For Hop Presents, Hop-produced events, ensemble and theater performances, student tickets are $10, while Hop Films and film events are $5 for students, according to Shaw. In addition, Shaw wrote that incoming members of the Class of 2026 are eligible for one free ticket to any event at the Hop this fall using the promo code WELCOME26. 

Fall Orchestra 

The Hop will host several orchestral productions this fall, including performances from the Coast Jazz Orchestra and the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, both of which are student ensemble groups. The Hopkins Center also hosts visiting professional artists

Director of the Orchestral and Choral Ensembles Fillipo Ciabatti conducts two ensemble groups: the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra and the Handel Society, a town-gown choral society that allows the “town” of Hanover to perform with the college community — the “gown.” Ciabatti said that the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra will perform its fall concert on Nov. 12. The performance will celebrate 50 years of co-education at the College and the 60th anniversary of the Hopkins Center. 

The first half of the performance will be a Florence Price concerto performed by pianist Karen Walwya to honor and celebrate women in classical music. The second half will be “Symphonie Fantasique,” an 1832 program symphony by French composer Hector Berlioz. The performance will also include the “Lincoln Portrait” by composer Aaron Copland, a piece composed in 1942 that contains excerpts from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. 

According to Ciabatti, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra is open to all students. He said that he is consistently impressed by the work ethic of students in the ensemble. 

“Most of the students in orchestra are not going to pursue it as a career, [but] they are so talented, so skilled and so competitive that they stick with orchestra and even if it means practices,” he said. 

Amy Norton ’23, ensemble assistant of the Coast Jazz Orchestra, called Coast Jazz “one of [her] favorite communities on campus.” She said she joined her freshman year and recommends that freshmen participate in the audition process at the Hop.

“Just go for it. It really is such a rewarding experience,” Norton said. 

Students interested in trying out for Coast Jazz Orchestra can sign up for auditions on the Hop’s website, with auditions scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11 and Monday, Sept. 12. For their fall performance, the Coast Jazz Orchestra will be performing on Oct. 27, according to the Hop’s website.

Fall singing and acting

Another ensemble group holding auditions in the fall is the Dartmouth Glee Club, a 40-member choral group. Boland said that she “highly recommends” freshmen audition for the opportunity if they are interested in the club. 

“The audition does not need to be perfect, but we are just looking for people who are passionate and committed to forming relationships with others and sharing their voices with a college-renowned choir,” she said. 

According to the Hopkins Center, the Dartmouth Glee Club auditions will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Students will be required to prepare a solo piece of their choosing, as well as engage in sight-reading, vocal warm-ups and ear-training exercises.

In addition to orchestral and choral ensembles, the department of theater will be holding an upcoming performance for “Pippin,” the award-winning 1972 Broadway musical. In the 2021-2022 season, the theater department hosted a main stage production performance for “Rent.” 

According to the theater department’s website, auditions take place during the first week of the term, with further details available in Shakespeare Alley — located on the ground floor of the Hop, to the right of the bathrooms — as well as on the department’s website. Auditions are open to all undergraduates, regardless of major or prior experience in acting.

David Katz ’24, a theater major, said one of their favorite experiences acting was during their performance in “Rent,” specifically performing the song “No Day But Today” with their fellow cast members.

“Hearing all these sounds that we all created with bodies was one of the most magical experiences I’ve had on stage,” Katz said. 

According to Katz, some of the best things about being involved in musical theater are the rigor, focus and most importantly, the ability for the performers and audience to share a moment. 

“That’s why I prefer theater to any art form…there is always a tomorrow, there’s no finality to it,” Katz said.

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