The Best of JBU
By Jessa Parette Eldridge '11
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Berry Performing Arts Center Showcases JBU Talent
Play performances in the Cathedral were a balancing act between improvising and perseverance. With no adequate space, students would often practice in the music department’s lobby, other classrooms or in the Walton Health Complex. With different ensembles, Cathedral choir, women’s chorus, voice and piano students, studio recording and play practices all demanding space, a new facility was sorely needed.
The demand was answered in the Fall of 2010, the Berry Performing Arts Center was opened, one of three new buildings funded by the Keeping Faith Campaign.
Faulty felt the impact immediately. “This building allows us to magnify the talent that was already there,” says Donna Rollene, who teaches voice masterclass and theater workshop. Before the building, some larger shows would have to be performed at the Sager Creek Arts Center downtown because the Cathedral lacked the needed facilities.
“Students now have a venue they feel free moving in, a venue that gives a close sense of community,” Rollene said. “Before, large sets would be crammed onto a small stage causing actors to often crash into each other.”
Music student Kristen Landrum ‘11 played Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" in the Jones Recital Hall. “The audience was so close that I was afraid that I would break the forth wall or sling a dish at someone accidentally,” Landrum said.
While the BPAC enhances performance quality, music students have taken advantage of the new space by using the facility to expand their performance abilities.
“We were able to hold a duo-ling piano recital,” pianist Lindsey Hohulin ‘11 said. “[It was a] rare opportunity that allowed all the pianists to perform on two pianos simultaneously. We never would have been able to hold such a performance in the Jones Recital Hall.”
Music professor Terri Wubbena barely contains her joy when mentioning the new building.
“There is a deep appreciation that comes with this building, a deep thankfulness to God and to those who have made it possible,” she says. “I’ll continue to get excited, but it’s not about me. It’s about the students and what God is doing through them.”
JBU students needed a building that could match their ever-developing talent. Music student Andrew Layden ‘13 explains that having a venue acoustically designed for a choir makes learning music simpler. Once a choir member knows the music and can hear the harmony, singing no longer becomes about notes but a joyful celebration.
“We are able sing with our minds and hearts, and that is where ministry is done,” Layden says.
The Berry Performing Arts Center has served both the campus and larger community through a variety of shows. Kara Gould, associate professor of communication and broadcasting said during the opening night of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers she ran into many neighbors, friends and church members from Siloam Springs.
“It occurred to me that everyone wanted to celebrate the new venue,” Gould says. “They really wanted to take part in what was happening on the JBU campus.”
On April 16, 2011, JBU Great Abandon Dance Ministry performed ‘Deliver Us’, a production that exhibited stories of modern day slavery and sex trafficking through the arts. Many members in the surrounding community joined the audience, making the 500-seating limit burst into a standing room only event.
“For JBU students the need to end slavery wasn’t a new idea, but it was a huge step in raising awareness and getting people in the community involved,” said senior Matt Musgrave ‘11, who led music during the event.
In one short year the building has played host to midnight movies, faculty meetings, special chapels, marriage seminars, one-act performances, large dramas, choral concerts, performing artists, chamber orchestras and more.
The show goes on at the BPAC, a venue that impacts performers and audience members alike.
Jessa Parette Eldridge '11 is the staff editor and writer for university communication.