Texas A&M’s Forsyth Galleries celebrated their 30th Anniversary on Nov. 15 with an interactive opera performance curated by Austin based musician Nathan Felix.
From 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center in a total of nine showcases, three singers and six instrumentalists performed at the Gallery’s celebration. The event utilized an open concept design across the museum floor, allowing each artist to walk from one room to the other while performing.
“It is the keystone event of the Forsyth’s 30th Anniversary celebrations,” said Elizabeth Appleby, assistant director of the Forsyth Galleries. “There have been, and will be, many other fun and educational programs offered this year, but this is the main one.”
Known for his immersive and audience interactive performances, Felix’s work has also been featured on renowned networks such as BBC, MTV, NPR and PBS. Jennifer Korolenko, curator of education at Forsyth, said the celebration was a combined effort between the gallery and Felix and took over eight months of preparation.
“It was just when I started to plan the 30th anniversary that I was approached by Nathan Felix,” Korolenko said. “He was actually looking for different venues to do his operas in, and I jumped on the opportunity and decided that I’m going to make it work. We basically let him go shopping in our vault and pick some pieces that inspired him in some way, and he wrote an opera for us.”
Korolenko said the interactive musical showcase was similar to other events held in the museum, such as silent discos, cultural field trips and the American Songbook Date Nights.
“I tried to do something that I’ve always wanted to do, but never got the opportunity to do,“ Korolenko said. “These sorts of immersive experiences are really what is happening in a lot of museums, and to have this type of contemporary experience juxtaposed our traditional collection.”
In addition to fluid musical performances, Felix said the theme of the celebration was the arts, as a whole, with each composition directly influenced by the gallery’s own artwork and paintings on display.
“This composition holds specific significance for me, because I chose the three pieces that have paintings of history from the vault,” Felix said. “I specifically chose them because I like American history. A part of my family has some roots from there, and I feel like it ties into there,”
While bringing together all nine musical performances came with its difficulties, Felix said he cannot wait to perform in Aggieland again.
“It was pretty hard for me to find artists here, but when I did, I sent out their individual pieces two to three weeks ago. I met them for the first-time last week and we rehearsed only thrice,” Felix said. “I’m surely going to organize more such events for this university.”
Upwards of 100 students, staff and community members attended the celebration. Biomedical science senior Sandhiya Ravichandran said she attended Friday night’s celebration because of the Forsyth Galleries’ commitment to bringing new and immersive cultural experiences every semester.
“I wish they would have more events like this and more people to know about it,” Ravichandran said. “It was really fun to be here.”