Students play prominent roles in Gala
Jazz Studies sophomore Joe Berry rehearsed for a solo tenor sax performance of “America the Beautiful” that opened the University Green and Gold Gala program last Friday.
The University's Green and Gold Gala, a black-tie event held on Friday, Oct. 6 in the University Union Ballroom, celebrated philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad's leadership gift of $2 million to build the Broad Athletic Facility as part of the University’s Sports and Recreation Complex. And a significant portion of the program honoring the Broads included Sacramento State students and recent graduates.
In front of a crowd of more than 500 guests, the students gave a variety of performances, beginning with a saxophone performance of “America the Beautiful” by sophomore Joe Berry. Before his act, Berry, a Jazz Studies major, said, “I haven’t done a solo performance in front of a large crowd before. I’ve done some recitals in high school, but nothing on this level.” In spite of the large audience, Berry appeared remarkably calm before his banner performance.
Artist Hiromasa Ichihara, a recent graduate of Sacramento State’s Art Department, created a 9- by 10-foot canvas painting displayed in the lobby of the University Union for all to see before they entered the ballroom. “I wanted to incorporate the Gala colors with the letter ‘S’ with a modern feel using clean lines and circles,” says Ichihara. He went on to say that his avant-garde design was inspired by the Broads’ appreciation for contemporary art. He also treated the audience to a creative process performance by painting a picture during the cocktail reception on a 4- by 4-foot piece of wood using acrylic and oil paint.
The dinner course featured an opera performance by Eugene Chan, who graduated in spring 2006 from Sacramento State’s Department of Music. Chan is an accomplished opera singer, having won numerous awards including an Encouragement Award from the 2006 Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition, first place in the Stewart Brady Vocal Competition, and a Pacific Regional finalist award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. His unannounced performance part of the “unexpected” element of the Gala—was of “Bella Siccome un Angelo” (translated as “Beautiful as an Angel”) from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Don Pasquale.
Showcasing students was a natural tie to the Gala theme, said Carole Hayashino, Vice President of University Advancement. “Eli and Edythe Broad are passionate about education and art. So we were proud that our students were able to play such a prominent role in the Gala.”
But not all student participation was in front of the crowd. Student hosts also served as ushers. And students put in time working behind the scenes for the Gala as well. Sophomore Blake Mendoza was part of the loading and production crew, transporting the tables and chairs to the ballroom and setting up, and painting and hanging canvases. “I was part of the crew that set everything up. Then I went home, took a long nap, and came back at around 11 p.m. to clean up after the Gala,” says Mendoza.
Nursing major Caitlin Fresques was part of the production crew as well, and set up the floral arrangements and tabletop décor. Says Fresques, “It takes a while to set up, longer than people think. I arrived at 8 a.m. and worked until 3:30 p.m. My goal was to make the ballroom as beautiful as possible for this special event."