SSU Students Discover Wealth of Public Art in Downtown Salem

This year Salem State University launched its First Year Day of Service Initiative – Moving Forward, Giving Back – teaming up students with local organizations for collaboration, networking, and community outreach. The students didn’t get to choose their placements, but a lucky few who had professed an interest in art got to team up with Salem Main Streets, the City of Salem, and Creative Salem for a few hours on Friday September 2nd. 

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Salem State University Creative Happenings - April 2016

April Creative Highlights at Salem State University

By Felicia Hayden ’16    

It’s April, and you know what that means: Salem State University’s spring arts events are in full bloom! 

On April 14, at 7:30 pm, we welcome to our Recital Hall the acclaimed, Grammy-nominated musician Sirojiddin Juraev, dutar virtuoso for a world music concert. Juarev is known widely as the most virtuosic dutar player in Central Asia, and will be accompanied by Abbos Kosimov on the doira. Together, they will share with us the beauty of Shashmaqam music in a musical collaboration that you don’t want to miss. 

Preceding the concert, Harvard professor Dr. Richard Wolf will offer a pre-concert lecture to discuss the cultural significance of Central Asian music. Dr. Wolf ‘s presentation begins at 7 pm in the Recital Hall (Central Campus, 71 Loring Ave.) 

It’s such a thrill to welcome guest artists and lecturers to campus but it is equally exciting to host the performances and exhibits by our student artists. You can have your pick this month! 

In April, we showcase the talents of four student music ensembles. Our ensemble concerts are all free, however, donations at the door are welcome to help support music scholarships. All music ensemble concerts begin at 7:30 and take place in the Recital Hall. 

To kick off our ensemble showcase, on Thursday, April 21 the University Chamber Orchestra will be performing an evening of Spanish-inspired music under the direction of Dr. Mary-Jo Grenfell.  Senior music major and Beverly native Evan Terzakis is the featured soloist on classical guitar in a concerto by Rodrigo. 

A few days later, on Monday, April 25 the University Band will celebrate the film music of John Williams. Led by Dr. Amy McGlothlin, the program includes selections from Star Wars, SupermanAmistad, and Harry Potter

On Wednesday, April 27 the Women’s Chorale and Handbell Ensemble take the stage. This concert will feature the mastery of nine diverse compositions—all due to the hard work, talent, and dedication of twenty singers, five instrumentalists, and one conductor. 

The musical wrap-up of the month takes place on Thursday, April 28 when the University Chorus and Chamber Singers offer their end of semester concert with a program that features music from the Renaissance through the 21st century.

But wait: there’s more! Our musical events for the month of April may end on April 28, but our other creative departments are here to entertain. 

Adapted by Robinson Jeffers and directed by David Allen George, the theatre department’s spring production, Medea by Euripides, opens on April 21 at 7:30 pm in the Callan Studio Theatre. 

The story unfolds on the final day before Medea is to be exiled from Corinth by King Creon. Jason has married the king’s daughter and denies his sworn union with Medea. With their two sons in the balance Jason fails to keep Medea from practicing her ancient black arts. In a horrific series of on-stage actions of vengeance and premeditated murder Medea extracts her methodical revenge at the cost of everything she holds dear. Her final act of “justice”, the murder of her two sons, assures the destruction of Jason’s immortality.

Euripides’ choice to focus on the psychology of this story and the ordinary emotions of pride, jealousy and anger was a radical one in 431 B.C. but it is for exactly this reason, Medea’s story still resonates today.

Medea runs April 21-23, 7:30 pm; Sunday, April 24, 2 pm; April 28-30, 7:30pm; Sunday, May 1, 2pm. 

A pre-show conversation will be held on April 28, at 6:30 pm.  “A Director’s Perspective of Medea” features Catherine Bertrand ’06 director of Salem Theatre’s March production of Medea and Salem State director David Allen George.  

Purchase tickets online:, or by phone: 978.542.6365. 

The month of April also means it’s time for the annual Art + Design Student Awards Exhibition in the Winfisky Gallery. 

The students featured in this exhibition are selected by the art + design faculty for their exceptional work. The selections on display will range from commercially-oriented media, such as graphic design, multimedia design, and photography to fine arts media such as painting, sculpture and printmaking. Stop by the Winfisky Gallery to check out these new artists through April 27. The Winfisky Gallery is located in the Ellison Campus Center. 

The month of April concludes with the Salem Dance Ensemble performance of Exhale Joy! in the Twohig Gymnasium (O’Keefe Complex, 225 Canal Street). Their performance will celebrate spring and revel in the promise of new beginnings. Dance faculty and students present their original choreography that explores letting go of old baggage and old habits, while finding transformation in new forms. Add a lightness to your step. Inhale the beauty. Exhale the JOY! April 30 at 7:30 pm/May 1 at 2 pm. $10 suggested donation at the door.

We hope to see you on campus often this month! Need more information? Check out or give us a call at 978.542.6365. 

Learn more and stay tuned to all the creative things happening at Salem State University Center for Creative and Performing Arts on Instagram, Web and Facebook!

AND HERE IS A HANDY DANDY CAMPUS MAP! Attend a Salem State University Creative Happening today! 



Spring Awakening Blossoms in the Black Box at Salem State University

By Chris Ricci and Joey Phoenix 

In the past few decades, the stage has seen a sudden spike in revival performances while, at the same time, neglected some of the more contemporary pieces. Nearly ten years ago, a musical took Broadway by storm, winning eight Tony awards and two Grammy awards. “Spring Awakening” spawned a theatrical renaissance that not only focused on revamping old material, but also treading a risky and controversial line about real world issues that some have been too scared to discuss otherwise.

Based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play, Spring Awakening: the Chilldren’s Tragedy, “Spring Awakening,” by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, takes the tropes of adolescent self-discovery in classic literature and combines it with the blistering clichés of rock music including (but not limited to) sex, drugs, and literal rock & roll. The story follows a handful of German youth coming to terms with their own physical and emotional development, and learning to cope with new adult experiences for which they are hardly prepared. The story doesn’t shy away from its mature subject matter, which includes sexual abuse and suicide, and openly discusses topics which could easily trigger discomfort in some viewers.

Because of the things mentioned above, it’s rather difficult to assess the source material without some form of bias. “Spring Awakening,” though receiving an incredible amount of accolades when it was first released, was met with a fair share of polarizing detractors. This being said, the best way to judge any play with such a storied history is to look at the way it was produced as opposed to the way it was written. Each large-scale production of “Spring Awakening” has been vastly different from the last; some featuring a wide range of actors and props with over-the-top costumes, while others were a bit more stoic and minimal. The history of this play definitely left many audience members eagerly curious as to what it was they would be witnessing at the Callan Theatre’s Black Box, and it’s safe to say that few left disappointed with the way “Spring Awakening” was brought to life.

There are many perks when it comes to putting on a production in such a small space, especially if the cast is of high calibre. During the evening, not a single corner of the stage was neglected, and instances with a multitude of action and singing didn’t feel overwhelming. The minimal room on the stage was rivaled by the minimal usage of props, which the actors worked with with flying colors. Imagery of fields and rivers were conveyed to the audience with little to no point of reference, and the actors played in this landscape with relative ease. There were some slight mechanical hiccups that would have marred any other performance, but were met strongly by the actors. The small space didn’t really require microphone usage, so when it was implemented, the sound got a tad bit overwhelming. Hearing one’s regular singing voice as well as the amplified version seemed to initially distract some of the actors, but midway through the first act, it seemed that everyone was on the same page and could balance it rather well.

Despite the challenges associated with staging such an interpretive production, the actors themselves did an exemplary job in bringing the story to life. Their enthusiasm for the material at hand quickened the energy in the black box, and effectively pulled the audience into the narrative. Although the quality of the sound in some ways detracted from the haunting melodies of the musical, the acting itself never faltered.

Salem State University's production of “Spring Awakening,” directed by William Cunningham, will continue this week, with 7:30 showtimes on Thursday the 23 through Saturday the 25, and a final matinée on April 26th at 2 PM.

Tickets: $15 general/$10 non-Salem State students and seniors. Salem State students admitted free with ID.

Purchase online or at: 978.542.6365.