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Shakespeare concert to debut at LCCC in March

Members of LCCC's Chamber Orchestra perform during the Holiday Collage concert on Dec. 3. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Trimble/Laramie County Community College)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A harmonious blend of sound, visuals and drama is coming to Laramie County Community College as the music department unveils “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” a concert born from a unique collaboration with the theatre and art departments.

Since 2019, departments from the Communication and Creative Arts Pathway at LCCC have come together to present their collaboration during the spring semester. This year’s concert will take place at 3 p.m. March 3 in the Surbrugg/Prentice Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Whether someone is a lifelong fan of Shakespeare or new to the perennially revered dramatist, Frank Cook, LCCC music instructor, said the show will be sure to entertain. By harnessing Shakespeare’s enduring appeal, performers and artists at LCCC will aspire to evoke the same sense of wonder that people around the world have discovered in the playwright’s works.

“The stories are compelling and the characters are relatable,” Cook said. “It shows in how much influence this playwright had in the fine arts. And that’s all walks of fine arts; not just the stage production.”

As audience members walk into the auditorium lobby, they’ll encounter art pieces by LCCC students inspired by the music they’ll hear during the concert. Theatre students will take the stage, introducing the musical works by performing short excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays. The performances will be an engrossing gateway to the playwright’s work before beginning the musical portion of the show, theatre instructor Jason Pasqua said.

“Shakespeare belongs to everybody, so we’ll be pairing extraordinary language with extraordinary music,” Pasqua said.

When the music starts, the Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Cantorei and Collegiate Choir will all be slated to perform.

The Jazz Ensemble will kick off its performance with “Such Sweet Thunder,” by Duke Ellington and Bill Strayhorn, inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” This will be followed by a sultry saxophone solo by Ellington titled “Banquet Scene,” from “Timon of Athens,” and student vocal soloists on “This Can’t Be Love” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and “Too Darn Hot” by Cole Porter.

The Chamber Orchestra’s performance will feature music from the Classical and early Romantic eras inspired by Shakespeare. Opening the set will be Felix Mendelssohn’s overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a popular selection written by the composer when he was only 17 years old.

“I selected this work because I’ve always loved the melodies within, but it also offers a nice challenge for the orchestra and introduction to the music for those students who weren’t familiar with it,” ensemble director John Fritz said.

Mendelssohn’s piece will be followed by “Montague Minuet” by Ignatius Sancho, drawing inspiration from “Romeo and Juliet.” Otto Nicolai’s overture inspired by “The Merry Wives of Windsor” will close the orchestra’s performance.

The choirs will perform “Winter Wind” from “As You Like It,” followed by a suite of three pieces from various Shakespeare plays. Lastly, “Hey Nonny” from “Much Ado About Nothing” will delight the audience.

Finally, the Wind Ensemble will take the stage, presenting a repertoire of three works: “Shakespeare Pictures” by Nigel Hess, music by Dmitri Shostakovich from the 1960s Soviet film adaptation of “Hamlet,” and “Illyrian Dances” by Guy Woolfenden, inspired by “Twelfth Night.”

For more information on the events and LCCC’s music programs, contact Frank Cook at fcook@lccc.wy.edu or 307-778-1306. Anyone needing assistance to attend events can contact the LCCC Office of Student Accommodations at 307-778-1359.