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A Homecoming You’ll Never Forget


Faculty, Press Release

October 8, 2012

A Homecoming You'll Never Forget

At 3 p.m. on Friday, October 19th a ribbon will be cut out in front of the new Shaw Center. That simple gesture will mark the culmination of years of planning between JR Shaw and administrators at Graceland University. When that ribbon is cut, a new era for music, theatre and the arts in general will begin on “the Hill.”

A gala schedule of events is planned for the dedication and Homecoming weekend to celebrate a grand addition to our campus, a shining star for Graceland’s future. For decades to come, the lives of every Graceland student will be forever enhanced by the world-class facilities JR and Carol have made a reality. The magnificent recital hall, Carol Hall, and the intriguing JR Black Box Theatre will provide Graceland students forums like very few university students ever experience. Combined with excellent faculty, and engaging programs, students will have never-to-be-forgotten experiences during their years at Graceland.

Perhaps even more importantly, all Gracelanders, including all alumni and friends, will be able to experience unique plays and recitals involving their students, their children, their friends, their colleagues, that here-to-fore were not possible in such stunning venues.

Be here for Homecoming October 19-21 and have one of the experiences of your lifetime. World-class entertainment , and fireworks too, will add to the excitement of our annual fall classic Homecoming schedule of events. You will have to hustle to catch all of the performances, and still make time to hang out with the life-long friends you made at GU. Make plans now to be here.

Ticket information for the gala concerts and Homecoming play is available online or you can simply call 641.784.5270 to reserve your seats for truly amazing concerts featuring perhaps the world’s finest trumpeter Jens Lindemann, and many others, and what promises to be one of the best plays we’ve had, Our Town, directed by and starring Arliss Howard, known for his stage and film work. Order your tickets now!

A Heartfelt Thanks to JR and Carol Shaw

The building’s transformation was made possible by the largest single gift in university history, $16 million, from JR, a 1956 GU graduate, and Carol Shaw. The Shaw family funded the original Shaw Center, dedicating it in 1982 to JR’s parents, Francis and Lottie Shaw. GU President John Sellars has enjoyed hosting JR during his several visits to campus during the 15-month construction project. “It has been a joy to spend time with JR. He is very excited about this project,” the president has remarked.

A week-long slate of celebratory events is planned leading up to the actual dedication ceremonies on Friday, October 19. There will be vocal and piano performances and a hymn sing in Carol Hall. Maestro Professor Jack Ergo will ‘wow’ his fans, as always, with several recitals in Carol Hall on Graceland’s beautiful new Steinway piano. There will be student recitals and band concerts.

Then the fireworks begin – and there are actually fireworks being planned for the dedication! On Friday, Jens Lindemann, will conduct master classes for students and others in Carol Hall. Later that evening Lindemann will appear in concert in the transformed Shaw Family Auditorium. These performances promise to be among the most exciting performances at GU in recent history and the buzz about his presence on campus has already begun. Lindemann is celebrated around the world and has won about every award for a brass player that exists. He performed with the renowned Canadian Brass from 1996 to 2001 and since then has performed at major concert venues across the globe. He performed May 8 this year at Carnegie Hall.

Lindemann is currently a professor with high distinction at UCLA and was a Distinguished Visiting Artist at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. He has also taught at the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Lindemann studied at the Juilliard School of Music, McGill University and received an honorary doctorate from McMaster University.

Actor/Writer/Director Arliss Howard will join the Celebration

Internationally-known actor Arliss Howard, who has a list of film credits a yard long, is currently in residence, working with Graceland Theatre Professor Tracy Salter. Master classes are scheduled with Howard. He has been a prodigious actor since the early 1980s, working in television and on Broadway, but primarily in movies. His credits include Big Bad Love (co-starring his wife, actress Debra Winger), Men Don’t Leave, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Plain Clothes and the 2011 production, Moneyball.

Howard grew up in Independence, MO and graduated from Truman High School. Howard and Winger have appeared together in several productions at the American Repertory Theatre (ART) in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.

Watching the Shaw Center Evolve

The building’s progression, particularly in recent months, has been dramatic. The roof of Carol Hall was beautifully pieced together like a giant mosaic. Glass windows enclosed the north corridor and art Gallery, providing a dramatic view of where world-class art is now hanging, also donated by JR and Carol Shaw. The stunning JR Theatre is breathtaking. We can only imagine what tremendous productions we will see there in the future. The building’s open, airy atrium has materialized before the eyes of students as they walked by and had peeks through the construction fence at the building that would soon also function as their new “living room of campus.”

President Sellars has marveled along with our students as the transformation has taken place. “As I have watched progress from the third floor of the Higdon Administration Building, it has been amazing to see how quickly the Shaw has taken shape,” he said. “The transformation of our campus is one of the most dramatic things I have ever witnessed.”

The Shaw is one of the Midwest’s premier centers for the fine arts. Additional features include the 625-seat Shaw Family Auditorium, complete with orchestra pit and state-of-the-art audio visual and lighting capabilities. There is a sprung vinyl floor movement studio, new music and theatre classrooms, and an outdoor amphitheater to accent the new pedestrian center of campus.

The Shaw Center’s progress can be viewed with hundreds photos on the Graceland Facebook Page.

Graceland is now positioned to join nationally-known, fine arts-focused universities from around the country. And, most importantly, JR and Carol Shaw are creating a stunning space for our students to enjoy and to relax, to explore their passions, to grow and learn, and to just have fun.

Lee Bash, Special Consultant for GU Visual and Performing Arts, perhaps captures best the importance of the Shaw transformation in this way: “It will strengthen our commitment to the liberal arts and enhance our focus on the visual and performing arts. It is then that Graceland will identify its commitment to excellence and provide a world-class venue for quality performances.”


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