Performances from the heart and to the soul: What sets BYU apart

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Visual Arts students receive the first place in animation for the short film Estefan at the 34th College Television Awards in 2013. They are one of many examples of excelling in their field in the College of Fine Arts and Communications. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Visual Arts.)
Visual Arts students receive the first place in animation for the short film Estefan at the 34th College Television Awards in 2013. They are one of many examples of excelling in their field in the College of Fine Arts and Communications. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Visual Arts.)

As the last sounds faded, the audience sat silent for 10 seconds, awed by the incredible work of the student performers. Then the crowd was suddenly on its feet clapping and whistling in appreciation. The “Pride and Prejudice” actors exchanged grins as they filed onstage for the final encore bow, elated with the success of another fabulous sold-out performance.

The College of Fine Arts and Communications boasts some of the most talented performers in the nation. In 2013 alone, students and organizations from all the departments won more than 25 national and international awards.

Rebecca Pederson won one of the most prominent awards as winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Winning the competition is a surefire way to an international opera career. However, despite her promising career, Pederson made the unique choice to continue studying at BYU.

“I’m in such a fortunate situation because I have people who will want me,” said Pederson. “I can take the time to finish developing here with Darrell (her teacher) at BYU and … then I (will) go out and start my professional career in two or three years more.”

Pederson’s decision to hold off professionally demonstrates the excellence of the college and the faculty members.

“(Our students and faculty) are engaged in many good causes. They are striving to use the talents they have been blessed with to go forth and serve,” said Marilyn Berrett, chair of the Department of Dance. “We are very service oriented in our approach to dancing, teaching, creating and performing.”

The Department of Dance has also held its own, consistently winning first-place awards at the National Dance Council of America and the prestigious Blackpool, England festival.

“It is incredible how the university has brought us together to be part of the (ballroom dance team),” said ballroom dance member Courtney Earl. “Together we create something that people across the world know about now and they love to see.”

Additionally, the department’s frequency in performances rivals even that of well-known conservatories.

“We perform a lot,” Berrett said. “In fact, we perform more than Julliard.”

The college is composed of five departments: communications, dance, music, theatre and media arts and visual arts. All of them continue to excel as the award months continue.

Recently, Richard William won a second student Emmy for his work in media music.

“It is hard to win the Heisman once, but to win it twice is not very common,” said Kory Katseanes,  chair of the School of Music, of William’s accomplishment.

The Visual Arts and Theatre and Media Arts departments have also won notable awards including the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award, the Graphic New Talent Annual Awards and multiple Emmys.  Regardless of the prominence of the awards, students in the college continue to impress the world in a way that speaks to the soul.

“Our vocabulary aren’t words; they are sounds,” Katseanes said. “Dance has movement, visual arts has a visual representatives of lines and colors. Theatre has their own brand of movement and articulation. That is the specialty of the college: expressing things of the heart.”

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