Learning by doing is one of the most important aspects of the Stephens College School of Creative and Performing Arts, said Rusty Elder, music program coordinator. It’s for that reason that public performances will always be a mainstay. 

“What begins with many hours of dedicated coaching and practice only comes alive when presented to our patrons,” he said. “Bringing your best to every show is a skill young artists can only truly learn through repeated opportunities to perform for a live audience.”

Every year, Stephens students receive a variety of opportunities to perform. They display their talents at Bach’s Lunch, monthly voice recitals; Showcase Ensembles Concerts, featuring The Velvetones, Stephens’ a cappella vocal jazz group, and A Class Act Musical Theatre Troupe; and Choral Concerts, which showcase the talents of The Stephens College Concert Choir. Every year, Stephens also presents the holiday tradition of “A March Family Christmas” or “A Charles Dickens Victorian Christmas.” 

Natalie Botkins ’19, who will perform in Pippin as “Catherine” this spring, finds performing in public settings beneficial because she can feed off the audience’s energy.

“I can use the audience to fuel my performance and make sure the choices I’m making are clear,” she said. “One of the things we start working on from the beginning in our classes is to use the text that is given to us in the music to break down a character and make our songs specific in acting and vocal choices. By doing so, we are able to feel more confident in the work we are performing.”

Earlier this semester, the soon-to-be May graduate also performed in the “Great American Songbook” concert and sang “I Only Have Eyes for You” by Harry Warren and Al Dubin.

“There are so many opportunities here to perform in various atmospheres,” Botkins said. “The more I get to practice and do what I love in front of people, the more I can learn from my experiences.”

The Columbia community is invited to attend a variety of upcoming music productions this spring at Stephens. All are free and open to the public and will be held in Historic Senior Hall Recital Hall. 

Spring Choral Concert: Let Us Journey On
7:30 p.m., April 14
A benefit concert for City of Refuge

Bach’s Lunch Student Recital Series
12:30 p.m., April 25

Showcase Ensembles Concert
7:30 p.m., April 28
Featuring The Velvetones

Musical Theatre Senior Showcase
7 p.m., May 6



Pictured (L-to-R): Hope Peña ’19, Natalie Irlmeier ’20, Fiona Bleu ’20 and Ella Witt ’21, members of The Velvetones, under the direction of Pamela Ellsworth-Smith and Tom Andes, at a Bach’s Lunch voice recital. During the monthly performances, Stephens vocal soloists and ensembles perform a variety of musical theatre, vocal jazz, classical and choral works. Also pictured at top of page: The Stephens Concert Choir, under the direction of Trent Rash.

Great American Songbook

Stephens’ presentation of “The Great American Songbook,” which brought together singers from all voice studios in a performance of the most-loved songs from the Golden Age of Tin Pan Alley and musical theatre. Pictured: Natalie Irlmeier ’20; Tom Andes, Piano; Zachary Clark, Bass; and Rich Oberto, Drums.

March Family Christmas

“A March Family Christmas” ensemble. Pictured (L-to-R): Julia Vuolo ’21, Natalie Botkins ’19, Mackenna Morrow ’19, Fiona Bleu ’20, Calista Cherches ’20. 

Tags : Student Success, School of Creative & Performing Arts

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