Lights, Camera, Interaction
Chancellor's Trip to China Shows Multimedia, Multicultural Capabilities of New DU Institute
Playing an Electone is like playing four instruments at once. Each hand dances across its own electronic keyboard, digitally programmed to mimic horns and strings and woodwinds. Below, one foot taps out a bass line on the pedalboard, while the other rests on the “expression pedal,” monitoring volume or pitch.
Blended together, the performer creates a solo symphony with the sound of a full-sized orchestra.
“It was just awe-inspiring,” says Chancellor Rebecca Chopp, who listened backstage in Beijing’s Center for the Performing Arts. “They’re the artists of the future – using their brains, their bodies, their feet and being in total synchronized, in-depth contextualization of music and digital development. It was just remarkable.”
The private performance was a highlight for Chopp and vice chancellor of advancement Armin Afsahi during a four-day trip to China last December. It was also a symbol of things to come.
In February, the Joseph and Loretta Law Institute of Arts and Technology (LIAT), an artistic hub where art, technology and education converge, will host the first ever Denver Electronic Music Festival.
“We’re applying multicultural art and multinational technology to create new content,” says Dennis Law, who made the Institute a reality with a $20 million gift. “Part of our Institute’s mission is to really be global.”
So Law brought Chopp and Afsahi to his home in Beijing, to show, rather than tell, what they can expect when the Institute formally takes the stage.
“It was very beneficial in terms of their appreciating the long-term goals of the Law Institute and the University of Denver,” Law says. “We’re taking the lead in moving content forward in the years to come. It really is a bridge to advancing all causes that are educational and enriching not only for students but for the people of Denver and Colorado.”
In China, Chopp and Afsahi caught a glimpse of the artistic-technological blend that will define the Institute. They received a rare backstage tour of the performing arts center, toured a recording studio and visited costume and makeup artists, who were hard at work preparing for “War & Peace,” a multicultural work that pushes the boundaries of entertainment and combines western and traditional eastern instruments. The production will play a starring role in the inaugural music festival, which will introduce a sampling of the Institute’s capabilities, Feb. 15 – 18.
It’s not only appealing to your ear. It enriches what you see with your eye, what you feel in your heart. What we’re trying to do is produce multicultural content and multinational digital advances to create new content that can enrich everybody’s lives.
“The visit was really interesting in terms of being better exposed to what Dennis Law has been doing and cultivating, in terms of the elements that will be part of the Institute here,” Afsahi says. “We needed to experience that. We can really see clearly how production, musicality, performance, costume, design and technology can all be infused into the academic community at DU.”
Each element plays a part in the performance, collectively enhancing the final product – much like that Electone, which will be front and center during the Institute’s festival, in a program entitled “Kung Fu Organ.” Dennis Law brands it as a “Total Music” experience – the newest pinnacle in entertainment.
“It’s not only appealing to your ear,” he says. “It enriches what you see with your eye, what you feel in your heart. What we’re trying to do is produce multicultural content and multinational digital advances to create new content that can enrich everybody’s lives.”
It will be entertaining, for sure, but the Electone performance can also serve as a symbol of the interactive, multidisciplinary fusion the Institute will cultivate, at an academic institution that takes pride in its far-reaching, collaborative unity.
“Working across borders and gaining a global perspective through travel and research have always been pillars of what it means to be a part of the University of Denver,” says Chopp. “The Joseph and Loretta Law Institute is an unmatched opportunity to bring the world to our campus so we may learn from one another, exchange ideas and create strong international, cross-cultural bonds.”