Bass Concert Hall

UTPD ordered an evacuation of Bass Concert Hall on Monday night because of suspicious activity and a bomb threat.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

Bass Concert Hall and Texas Performing Arts Center were evacuated Monday after a bomb threat was reported to the Butler School of Music.

UTPD responded to a call that reported a bomb threat in the Butler School of Music area around 8:50 p.m. The Performing Arts Center and then the Bass Concert Hall were evacuated completely in response to the threat.

This event is the second threat to UT this semester — the first being to a food trailer in West Campus this February. There was also a threat in September 2012 resulting in the evacuation of the entire campus. In both cases, UTPD did not properly notify students. 

UTPD did not send out an email notifying students of Monday’s potential threat, but the official UTPD Twitter account sent out two tweets about the threat. 

Although both buildings were cleared for entry, there was confusion among UTPD regarding the location of the threat.

“The PAC was also evacuated,” UTPD Lt. Darrell Birdett said. “Originally, the PAC got evacuated, and then we came over here. There was some confusion, I think, about what building the actual threat came into.” 

Birdett said he was not sure how many people were evacuated in the threat, although UTPD mandated a full evacuation of all possible buildings.

Attendees of a concert at the Performing Arts Center were evacuated to the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for 30 minutes. James Ellerbock, an attendee and teacher at Bowie High School, said there were armed police officers on the scene.

“We were watching a show, and this woman came in and said there was a serious threat, and we were asked to leave,” Ellerbock said.

Students rehearsing and preforming in the Butler building were asked to leave, as well. While most were evacuated, UTPD failed to notify music performance sophomore Adam Lundell of the threat.

Lundell said he was rehearsing in a practice room when the evacuation began. He said a group message between other music students notified him of the threat. Lundell was in the building for about an hour before leaving.

“I texted one of my friends, and he said he told an officer what room I was in, and he came in, and [the officer] came in and got me,” Lundell said. 

Lundell said it was exciting at first,  but then he grew nervous because he knew he should not be in the building. 

“I was scared for a little bit, so I kept playing the piano to calm my nerves,” Lundell said.

Music studies junior Hugo Ramirez said he was asked to evacuate after a concert, but he was not too shocked by the threat because he was previously evacuated during a previous University bomb threat.

“At this point, this is, like, the second time that I’ve been here that this has happened,” Ramirez said. “I was a little surprised, but in the end I wasn’t too shocked.

Additional reporting by Wynne Davis

Bass Concert Hall will reopen in the fall due to renovations. The first renovation the hall received was back in 2007.

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Bass Concert Hall is currently undergoing renovations and will reopen in the fall. 

According to Gene Bartholomew, Texas Performing Arts assistant director of communications and Broadway operations, roughly $200,000 in funding is being provided by Texas Performing Arts, in addition to a $1 million loan provided by the University, which will require payments over the next couple of years.  

The hall’s 3,000 seats, which were installed in 1981, will be replaced as part of the renovation.

Bartholomew said the updates to the venue will benefit both students and performers.

“We feel that our premiere venue should reflect the quality of the performances that we present,” Bartholomew said.

The 32 year-old hall last received a face-lift in May 2007, updating the theater’s facade. The 2007 renovation lasted 18 months and cost $14.7 million. A glass exterior was added to make the lobby more engaging and bring in more light. New adjustable curtains were also added to enhance acoustics, allowing sound to be distributed evenly. 

The project will reach completion in time for the first performance of the fall semester. Bill Cosby's show on Sept. 21 will be the first show at the renovated hall.

Correction: This article has been edited with the correct first show at the renovated hall. Bill Cosby on Sept. 21 will be the first show, not "BASETRACK."

A day before “Wicked”’s return to Bass Concert Hall, 13 semi trucks drove up to the theater. In the trucks were all the contents necessary to bring the show to cities nationwide: 10 tons of equipment, several hundred lights and one truck dedicated solely to transporting costumes. 

The plot of “Wicked” acts as a prequel to the classic story “The Wizard of Oz.” It follows the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, and the Good Witch of the North, Glinda, as they go to school and learn to be friends despite their differences. 

Kathy Fitzgerald, who plays Madame Morrible, said UT students should see the show because it’s something everyone can connect to.

“The girls are exactly college-aged,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a gorgeous story about college-aged friendships.”

At each new location, the cast is allowed about an hour to run through important elements of the show. These rehearsals tend to focus mainly on sound since the acoustics of each theater vary.

“They’ll walk the stage while doing it and mark the choreography to get familiar with the space and the sound,” production stage manager Ryan Lympus said.

The musical travels with 70 crew members and pulls 100 additional crew members from Austin residents who work in the field. 

“At every city, you have a whole crew of locals who — maybe some of them have done the show when it was here in the past — but maybe they’ve never seen it before or they’ve never done it,” assistant stage manager Colleen Danaher said. 

Some students even have the opportunity to work behind the scenes on “Wicked.” Lympus and other members of the crew will have UT students shadowing them during the musical’s three-week run at Bass Concert Hall.

“If students took the time to reach out to us through the right contacts, we’re happy to help,” Lympus said.

The students who work with “Wicked” could end up in professional Broadway tours, similar to Danaher, who graduated from UT in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and dance.

“I graduated from the theater department, and I stage-managed in our building, and I stage-manager an opera in our smaller theater, the McCullough,” Danaher said. “And so to come back and be a stage-manager here is crazy.”

Audience members in Bass Concert Hall held their breath Saturday night as performers engaged in feats of strength and complicated routines, tossing each other far into the air, performing handstands on single stacks of bricks and forming three person human towers.

The show, put on by one of the three companies that make up the Australian acrobatic troupe, was described as a contemporary circus. A combination of acrobatic skill and showmanship, the show only occasionally featured a few minimalist props, such as hula hoops and rings, and usually left performers alone on the stage in only slacks or leotards. For audience members, the tension grew as a performer entangled himself in a rope dangling over the stage, gaining height, as there was no one to catch him. Audience members also gasped as a woman stood on a man’s stomach in sparkling red heels, while the man held himself up on his legs and arms.

Tour manager and director Diane Stern said the C!RCA’s three companies put on a combined 400 shows each year, pausing after six to eight months to develop a new show for next year and take a short break. The show C!RCA displayed in Austin was an amalgamation of three previous performances, Stern said.

“All of these shows are fantastic in their own light but we can kind of put them together into their own show,” Stern said. “[We] want to produce work that moves the heart, the mind and the soul.”

Stern lamented contemporary circus is not as well-known as an art form in the U.S. as it is in Europe, but said she hoped audience members would appreciate the performance.

“I think one of the things that C!RCA does really well is we really try to say: here are seven people that are going to do some incredible things with their bodies,” Stern said. “We want you to see their humanity.”

Performers did more than stunts during the show, sometimes engaging in funny scenes showing playful personalities.

Biology senior Barry Ordoyne, who attended the show, said he did not think he understood all of the show but liked it for the same reason he likes other performing arts.

“I like seeing the human quality,” Ordoyne said. “[You see something and are like], ‘oh. That’s very powerful.’”

Autumn Wier, who attended the show to fulfill a requirement for her class at Austin Community College, said she also liked it, even though she did not know what to expect.

“It was different,” Wier said. “It was exciting and it was neat.”

History professor Henry Brand, journalism professor Regina Lawrence, and government professor Daron Shaw spoke to an audience of freshmen on the importance of voting in the upcoming presidential election at Bass Concert Hall Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

With fewer than 50 days until the U.S. presidential election, first-year students flooded Bass Concert Hall to listen to professors from three different fields offer their take on the race.

The talk, entitled “Election 2012: History, Rhetoric, Politics,” was the second lecture in this year’s University Lecture Series, which aims to give first-year students the chance to interact with acclaimed faculty. History professor Henry Brands, government associate professor Daron Shaw and journalism professor Regina Lawrence spoke about campaign issues related to their respective fields of study.

In the lecture Tuesday night, Brands cautioned students against hoping the new president will be a hero.

“Will President Obama, if reelected, will Governor Romney, if elected, rise to the ranks of a Lincoln or a Roosevelt? You better hope not,” Brands said. “Because if either one does, what that means is that the country will experience some crisis comparable to the Civil War, comparable to the Great Depression.”

Patricia Micks, senior program coordinator for the School of Undergraduate Studies, said the University Lecture Series, which all students enrolled in a first-year signature course are required to attend, aims to promote a dialogue among students and draw their attention to what the campus has to offer.

“The hope is that each lecture will create a campus-wide conversation and will highlight some of the exciting research and scholarly work being produced on our campus,” Micks said.

With a record amount of money being raised and spent this year, Lawrence urged students to not let their voices get drowned out despite the significant and often unappealing role money has in influencing the political conversation.

“When the discussion is dominated by money and by the kinds of political negative non-factual ads that we’ve been talking about tonight, that’s not a very inviting conversation,” Lawrence said. “That doesn’t invite you to take part. Frankly, for a lot of you it’s a turn-off.”

All speakers dedicated part of their time toward encouraging student civic engagement. David Bishop, international relations and global studies freshman, said the talk could encourage students to get involved in the electoral process early.

“I think it’s important for freshmen,” Bishop said. “If they target freshmen as we come in, then we’re engaged in the political process throughout college instead of waiting until we leave to get going on it.”

Printed on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 as: Faculty lecture prepares students for election season

Actor and director John Malkovich surprised audiences Tuesday night by waltzing through the aisles and mocking his accompanying orchestra, blurring the line between actor and character while commenting on subjects ranging from marriage to sexuality in his performance Tuesday.

His performance of “The Infernal Comedy” was hosted by Texas Performing Arts at the Bass Concert Hall, combining opera and theater to tell the life of celebrated Austrian writer and convicted serial killer Jack Unterweger, who killed himself in 1994 after being arrested in Miami and fleeing from an earlier killing spree in Vienna and Los Angeles following his pardon from a life sentence four years earlier.

Malkovich, who is known for his often eccentric performances, singled out audience members by asking them questions about their sex lives while strangling prostitutes played by famed sopranos Louise Fribo and Martene Grimson during his performance.

“Kathy Panoff [director and associate dean of Texas Performing Arts] had been thinking about bringing this piece to UT for awhile because it pairs two entirely different art forms together,” said assistant director Gene Bartholomew.

“It was less about having Malkovich here playing at the top of his form than about being able to perform a challenging, interesting and cutting-edge piece.”

The Bass Concert Hall also sought to bring more discussion from students about opera, holding a Q-and-A with John Malkovich earlier in the day and screening a video on the life of Jack Unterweger in the 6th Floor Loft, a room opened this year where students can come before performances to learn about theater and opera and discuss these subject with each other, said student development specialist Maggie Bang.

“We would love for audience members to take something unique away from tonight,” Batholomew said. “Not just an actor at the height of his craft, but a very challenging work with two accomplished singers and a baroque orchestra.”

The audience of around 1,100 was likely attracted more by the presence of a famous actor like Malkovich and not the content of the play, said Jimmy Ellerbrock, a teacher at James Bowie High School who brought his class to the performance.

“My students are part of [our school’s] scholars program and we see independent films, theatre, opera — I guess you could say my students are real theater-goers,” Ellerbrock said. “The appeal tonight is Malkovich. He’s the look, the reason we’re here.”

Others had little else than praise for the play, such as Stephanya Taylor, who is a frequenter of artistic performances and has now seen the play twice.

“I’ve seen a lot of shows, be it punk rock or opera, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Taylor said. “It’s a singular and moving show, and I’m flat broke while paying for two performances.”    

Whether it’s sitting at a table with friends and enjoying the art-decorated walls or standing on the terrace to get a sweeping view of UT, The Loft will offer many new opportunities before and after performances at Bass Concert Hall.

The Loft Kickoff Celebration tonight will celebrate the opening of a sixth floor hangout spot the Texas Performing Arts and Hook ‘em Arts created with students in mind. The lounge will provide amenities and atmosphere for students to enjoy a show.

“Texas Performing Arts created The Loft because we wanted students to feel like they had a place to call their own,” said Maggie Bang, student development specialist. “The Loft will be a fun place to unwind with friends before a show. For example, there’s nothing quite like laughing with your friends to get you ready for a comedy show.”

Revamped with new technology, a new bar, new furniture and even a graffiti wall, The Loft was designed to be comfortable and for students to take advantage of the fine arts shows available to them at UT.

“The Loft was created to have a place to come and hang out before and after shows that are happening at Bass Concert Hall,” Bang said. “Sometimes this will include photo booths that have backdrops and props. We’ve got a couple of game nights, and we’re going to make a giant Mad-Lib. We’re working with other departments in Texas Performing Arts to get some of the artists to come and talk back with students.”

Bang said often in performing arts, audiences will all come to see the same show but never connect with one another. The Loft will bring a social aspect to seeing plays, allowing students with similar interests to talk about the performances.

“I hope that The Loft allows students to feel more comfortable. The Bass Concert Hall is on the UT campus, so it’s kind of like the students’ theatre, but I don’t think students feel that way,” Bang said. “Hopefully this is a place where students can come and relax. Starting discussions in The Loft and branching out to other people at these performances is what we hope is accomplished.”

The Loft will help put plays into context, giving many opportunities to prepare audience members for each show.

“We have one show coming in October, The Infernal Comedy, and it’s supposed to be really strange, so we were thinking we’d have people up in the Loft after the show to really break it down,” said arts director Lauren Shelton. “It will really enhance the experience because you’re seeing other peoples’ views on it, but at the same time, being able to fully form your own thoughts about it.”

Printed on September 1, 2011 as: Lounge at concert hall opens to promote student interaction

Saxophonist Ornette Coleman made his name in the late 1950s by defying traditional jazz forms and embracing collective improvisation as part of the “free jazz” movement. He didn’t fail to surprise audience members at the Bass Concert Hall last night during the only Texas stop of his current tour. Coleman plays with a quartet, and in the first song — a nearly 10-minute surge of sound — he alternately took up a saxophone, a trumpet and finally, a violin, the last of which he played with quick, frenzied strokes. The quartet — Coleman’s son Denardo on drums, Tony Falanga on acoustic bass and Al McDowell on electric bass — then played a rendition of a musical standard, Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Other band members pushed the limit themselves with McDowell playing the bass at times like a classical guitar. The set challenged the audience much like Coleman has done throughout a career that’s spanned five decades. “The Shape of Jazz to Come,” released in 1959, received criticism even from fellow jazz greats such as Miles Davis and Max Roach. But many of his innovations are considered tame today, said Austin-based saxophonist Elias Haslanger. “The concept that Ornette brought to the floor was that there’s no need for a formal structure as far as a song form,” Haslanger said. Bebop pioneers like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk pushed jazz further, but the genre still mostly stuck to a form based on the blues and the standard meter. “What Ornette did was say we don’t need that,” Haslanger said. “We’re just going to use melody. It’s kind of a basic concept now, but it basically defined a monumental change in direction at the time.” Haslanger said Coleman has influenced him not just as a fellow saxophone player but as an innovator. “Ornette kind of became one of the signature guys that did it his way and had a vision and a sound, so of course that’s going to influence me,” he said. “That’s what we all strive to be.”