Viking Varieties gone, a new show will take its place

Command Performance to make debut at this year’s Viking Days


Nearly 200 students from Augustana’s music department will gather under one roof for a first-of-its-kind performance during Viking Days. With all that musical talent resounding throughout the Washington Pavilion’s theater, one thing will remain silent: the audience.

On Friday, Oct. 14, the Augustana band, choir, orchestra, percussion ensemble and Northlander Jazz Band will team up for the Command Performance, a show modeled after a traditional prism concert.

But a prism concert is anything but traditional. It is a performance based on pushing the limits—one where the whole venue becomes the stage, and, from the moment the curtain rises until it closes, the music never ends—hence the soundless crowd.

The idea behind the Command Performance stemmed from band conducter Christopher Unger’s past experience directing music-focused variety shows at larger universities.

When the music department’s administrative director Brad Heegel heard about the idea, he knew Augustana students could pull it off.

“The idea sounded curious and fun,” Heegel said. “We’d been missing an arts component in Viking Days for a few years, and this was something fun and different that we knew had worked elsewhere. It’s the perfect opportunity to put our best foot forward as a department.”

The 90-minute performance will open with a piano concerto and continue with both well-known and more obscure pieces featuring a variety of soloists.

During the concert a handful of music department alumni will be inducted into the Performing and Visual Arts Hall of Fame.

Orchestra conductor Jungho Kim said one of the most noteworthy parts of the performance is the lack of a traditional stage presence.

Though the main stage will be used, audience members will find performers in locations that may surprise them, like the balcony, the middle of the auditorium or even beside them. This creative staging has come with its share of challenges.

“The Pavilion is a great venue, and if we were just doing everything on stage there would be no problem,” Kim said. “The logistics of the location and the staging have presented the biggest problems.”

Organizing such a large number of students and faculty has proven a challenge as well. Heegel said he has tried to be sensitive to students’ time during homecoming week.

“Viking Days is a big week,” he said. “We’re attempting to put on a show for the entire community with one four-hour rehearsal [all together]. That doesn’t happen very often.”

Senior music major Ann Chesley said that though the Command Performance may be exciting for alumni, she and fellow music majors are not looking forward to the time commitment.

“After what happened my freshman year with Viking Varieties, I’m wary of something like that happening again,” she said. “This is taking time away from our recital prep and working on more artistic pieces.”

Unger said the broad range of pieces are a way to celebrate musical diversity.

“This diverse repertoire runs the gambit musically,” he said. “With such a range of styles all in one show, we hope students leave with a more sophisticated understanding of music.”

For his part, Kim said he hopes the concert not only teaches audience members something new about music, but is also relatable. With so many different performers together on one stage showcasing a number of songs and styles, Kim thinks the audience’s past experiences and memories with music will make the concert more personal.

“I want people to be proud,” Kim said. “Look what we have here. It’s not just the band, it’s not just the choir, everyone is involved. We’re able to showcase what the entire music department has to offer. It’s a very cool way to kick off the concert season.”  

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