Performing Arts graduates put on a show, learn that creativity is their secret power

Performing Arts graduates put on a show, learn that creativity is their secret power

College of Performing Arts graduates sing Rowan's alma mater to their friends and family at the conclusion of their Commencement ceremony.

Living up to its name, the College of Performing Arts at Rowan University put on a performance in addition to honoring 96 graduates in the areas of music, dance, music education, theatre, and music industry during the college's Commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 9.

“Our celebration today is likely to be different than other college ceremonies - dare I say better - as we will share samples of our students’ accomplishments with you,” Dr. Richard Dammers, dean, said with a hint of good-natured boasting.

Keith Bianchini, the first recipient of the new Dr. Barbara Chamberlain Award for Outstanding Excellence in Performing Arts Education, offered reflections on his route to earning a degree followed by a unique theatrical presentation giving a behind-the-scenes look at the work of stage manager Kyle Santopadre and lighting designer Shawn Collins as choreographer Michelle Campbell’s original dance piece was being performed. Cristina Loscutova dazzled with a Claude Debussy selection on piano, followed by tenor Quinton Lewis’s rousing rendition of “He’ll Bring it to Pass” by noted African-American composer Hall Johnson, whose papers and memorabilia were once housed at Rowan.

“It felt victorious,” Lewis, a double major in Music and Psychology with a minor in Spanish, exclaimed while describing his thoughts about reaching graduation day. “It felt like I climbed to the top of a mountain.”

(To view photos of the ceremony and all Commencement activities this week, check out Rowan on Facebook.)

Students and their families both acknowledged the emotions of the day.

“It’s really exciting,” said Jessica Brotherton, one of seven who received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, about getting her degree. “Coming to Rowan to study dance was the best decision I ever made.”

Her father, Vince Brotherton, beamed while noting that it was “an amazingly proud moment getting to see Jessica achieve her dream.”

Commencement speaker Robert Morrison talked directly but with humor and encouragement about the realities of what is ahead.

“The job of Rowan University and this college has been to prepare you not for the world as it exists today,” Morrison pointed out, “but to prepare you with the tools to confront, analyze and respond, proactively shape, and ultimately succeed in a world we have yet to imagine.”

The director of Arts Ed NJ, a statewide arts education policy group, and founder and CEO of Quadrant Research, an arts education data analytics and market research firm, Morrison talked about the changing professional landscape in his own family. His grandfather had two jobs in one industry during a 50 year career, while his father had three in one industry over the same number of years.

“I have had nine jobs in four industries, including three jobs of my own making, over 35 years.” he revealed. “Your world will be different.”

Among the pieces of advice Morrison offered for succeeding in this new world was his declaration that “creativity is your secret power.”

“You understand the artistic process, the creative process, and that is why you will be a very valuable asset wherever your career journey takes you,” he stated. “Creativity is the new capital of the realm.”

Morrison noted that companies like Google are now hiring more people from the arts and humanities because they have skills some other professionals might lack: empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

"Yes, your world will be different,” he added. “Knowing the reputation of this great university and the work this great faculty has done in preparing each of you, I am confident not only in your ability to rise up to face any challenge…but I am confident in your ability to rise up and thrive in this new and better and yes different world that each of you will help create.”