The five members of the Shenandoah Conservatory Student Performance Week Taskforce along with Dean and Professor of Music Michael Stepniak, Ed.D., traveled from Feb. 20, through Feb. 24, to visit the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, Wales, and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London, England. Both institutions currently offer student-focused, weeklong performance programs that have proven especially successful. Highlights from the trip included attending rehearsals and final performances of student-led projects, touring facilities, holding in-depth discussions with administrators and students about the pros and cons of their programs, sharing meals with UK counterparts, and debating various aspects of what a similar program here at Shenandoah would look like. While there was precious little time available for sight-seeing, some members of the group were able to take a whirlwind tour of Cardiff Castle and later to spend some time in Greenwich, England, catching up with Trinity Laban voice major Cassie Dalby, who last year spent a semester studying voice here at Shenandoah with Chair of Vocal/Choral Division and Associate Professor of Voice (Tenor) Byron Jones ’04, D.M.A.
Taskforce members are currently in the process of deliberating and shaping a recommendation as to whether or not Shenandoah Conservatory should alter its calendar and undergraduate course schedules one semester each academic year to provide space and support for a student performance week. If in the positive, their recommendation will be presented to Shenandoah Conservatory faculty and students during a specially convened, conservatory-wide Performance Forum and put to a student and faculty vote.
Members of the taskforce include Associate Professor of Theatre, Conservatory Assistant Dean for Student Learning and Taskforce Leader Carolyn Coulson, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Bassoon and Music Theory and Co-Chair of the Conservatory Curriculum Committee Ryan Romine, D.M.A.; dance representative Adrienne Elion ’20 (B.F.A. in Dance); theatre representative Christopher Goodwin ’19 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre) and music representative Joshua Frey ’19 (B.M. in Music Production & Recording Technology).
The Shenandoah Conservatory Student Performance Week Taskforce was created with support from the Dean’s Office to critically investigate the viability and value of altering the entire undergraduate conservatory curriculum during one semester to create space for a weeklong, conservatory undergraduate class-free, student-led performance/presentation week. That week-long period would be a time when conservatory performance and rehearsal spaces are turned over to students, and students would have an opportunity to oversee the final rehearsal, management and presentation of collaborative and innovative student performances and productions. This project is supported in part by funding from the Dean’s Circle.