Duo Shen, UD graduate student studying violin under Xiang Gao, helped devise the Graduate Gala theme of "Building Bridges: A Musical Journey."

Graduate Gala

Graduate Gala delivers harmony, United Way donation


3:10 p.m., Dec. 18, 2012--It’s been about a month since the second annual University of Delaware Graduate Gala filled the Amy E. du Pont Music Building with the strains of Vivaldi, tango dancing and positive thoughts of how to bring greater harmony to the world. 

Held Nov. 2, “Building Bridges: a Musical Journey,” an opportunity for graduate students to gather for fellowship and entertainment provided by fellow graduate students, also served as a major fundraiser for the United Way, with a portion of the ticket cost to be donated to the nonprofit organization. The students’ total contribution to the agency, to be formally made in the new year, is $1,000.

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“We’re really pleased at the success of this journey to harmony through music and the promise of this donation to help communities in need,” said Emily Bonistall, president of Graduate Student Government, which co-sponsored the event with the Office of Graduate and Professional Education

Concerned about the violence in the world, Justin Chou and Duo Shen, both graduate students studying violin under Xiang Gao, UD Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music, devised the theme, which encouraged the audience to think harmonious thoughts through music, dancing and slides featuring quotes from world leaders.  

Chou and Shen’s quartet with fellow UD graduate students Andrew Gentzsch and David Brown, called Violins4ward, aims to “push forward the progress of music and culture through eclectic and innovative productions that address human issues and showcase music in new mediums.”

Gao, their adviser, said he was very proud to see his graduate students play such creative and meaningful roles in musically promoting peace, harmony and diversity on campus.

“They are very talented and passionate about reaching out to others and I foresee nothing but success in their future,” Gao said. “They are also very lucky to have Dr. Mary Martin’s vision and support from her Office of Graduate and Professional Education, as well as Dr. Suzanne Burton’s artistic advice with her renowned music education expertise.”

In addition to the Violins4ward quartet, the student performers, all working on master of music in performance degrees, included Nicole Huyett and Tash Stollmack (piano); Jeff Ralston (guitar); Patrick Ketter (oboe); Meredith Bates (cello); and Kaitlyn Waterson (soprano). James Anderson, UD’s director of orchestras, served as a piano accompanist.

By all accounts, the event was a success.

“Thank you so much for coming up with wonderful and creative ideas for grad students to really enjoy their studies and stay here at UD,” one student noted. 

Another added, “It made for a lovely evening and opportunity to meet other grad students. I look forward to next year’s event.”

Another graduate gala will be held next fall, and additional formal events where graduate students can gather are being planned.

Photos by Evan Krape

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