Audience members were few in the early days.
He produced the school’s first nonstop concert in collaboration with then Dean Ron Ross. The show featured a diverse program of musicians and genres within the school, but about 100 people showed up.
“The year was somewhere around 1995,” says Grimes, LSU professor of music and a member of the university’s Faculty Jazz Trio. “It stayed that way for a few years, until the word got around that this was something really special.”
The year’s show, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, will continue that “special” tradition.
Grimes is co-producing the concert with Todd Queen, dean of the LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts. The show will feature 16 musical compositions performed by students representing the School of Music’s many disciplines.
“We begin the concert with a world premier, an original work by a doctoral student that is really exciting,” Grimes says. “Along the way, we’ll hear from the trombone choir playing a Bruckner Motet, a cello quartet playing a tango by Astor Piazzola, the Jazz Ensemble with a swinging male vocalist and a few surprises that I’d rather not divulge.”
“We definitely have some surprises on this year’s program,” Queen adds. “I think it’s going to be exciting for the audience.”
Though new to LSU — named dean last May — Queen is familiar with Concert Spectacular’s format. While chairing the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance at Colorado State University, Queen headed his own version of Concert Spectacular.
“We staged ours during the holidays, and we called it a gala,” he says. “But it was the same format, where different ensembles performed one after the other.”
Grimes developed the idea for LSU’s concert.
“The concept for this came from my days as a graduate student at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York,” he says. “They have had the PRISM concert for many years. As light shines through a prism, the spectra are spread out, and so it is with Concert Spectacular.”
Musicians will be spread throughout the theater, and when one ensemble is done, the spotlight immediately lands on another.
“The music doesn’t stop until the very end,” Grimes says. “Everything merges together from one area to another, so we ask the audience to refrain from applauding until it’s truly over. This might be tough for some people, either from force of habit or simply being moved to applaud because the performance is so good.”
In the end, some attendees may be exposed to something new.
“They may come to hear one kind of music and may be introduced to something with which they aren’t familiar,” Queen says. “That’s one of the great things about this concert.”
The LSU School of Music also can use the program as a recruiting tool.
“The week of the concert will also be national audition week, so we’ll have lots of prospective students and their parents on campus,” Queen says. “This concert is a chance for them to see and hear some of the things we have to offer.”
And it’s a chance for students in the LSU School of Music to share with their peers.
“Our students get to hear their colleagues in other areas, students they don’t normally get to interact with,” Grimes says. “I’m not sure of the total count of students involved in the program, but it’s certainly more than 250. The one constant throughout the program will be the high artistic level presented. We are highlighting our very best students, and only students.”