Shepherd School Concerts

I always loved classical music, but I never knew much about it. Growing up in India, classical music concerts were sparse, far away, or too expensive. I had only listened to Mozart and Beethoven on YouTube, and I was always enraptured by the lilting melodies and the intricate compositions. It was my dream to witness a live symphony perform.

When I began to research Rice University, I learned about the Shepherd School of Music. I heard that the concerts at the Shepherd School were free for Rice students and that it had a great reputation for good music. But I always thought that it would be too far away or too posh to be accessible to college students.

When I actually arrived at Rice, I was pleasantly surprised! Not only was the Shepherd School Concert Hall a short ten-minute walk from my residential college (Wiess College), it had concerts almost every weekend, and a large percentage of the student body attended these concerts. I began to attend concerts immediately!

I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Chamber Music, Symphonies, and World-Renowned Soloists. One of the most memorable concerts I watched was put on by the Campanile Orchestra, a symphony orchestra made up of non-Music majors from Rice and members of the Rice community. I watched my friend play the Clarinet in the orchestra, and was happy to support her and listen to amazing music!

To me, the Shepherd School Concerts serve as quality entertainment and a great stress-buster.  Not only do they feed my love for Classical music and help me learn more about new composers and compositions, they are a chance to dress up for a couple of hours, sit in the comfy seats of the concert hall and relax to the sound of great music!

There Are No Boundaries Here

“I apologize, everyone, but we will need to delay the start of the show until 7:35 because we still have a line out the door. We didn’t expect so many people to come. Sorry, again, but thank you, everyone, for coming out tonight!”

I was surprised to not hear any groans from the crowd following the announcement. It was Saturday night, and the Rice African Student Association (RASA) was holding their annual dinner show, Africayé. Dinner started at 6:00, but when my friends and I got there at 6:10, the line was already far out the door and remained that way until the start of the show.

Last but not least – our classmates and friends on the dance team danced their hearts out. Photo Credit: Rice African Student Association

Africayé has always been a hugely popular event at Rice. The perfect combination of exotic but delicious food, foot-stomping music, and immersion into a lively culture so remote from most of our own is beyond worth the $5 ticket value, an opportunity Rice students are more than willing to drop everything for. Walking through the food line, my plate was loaded up with injera bread, a variety of meats, samossas, rice, and lentil stew. My heavenly gustatory experience was soon mingled with the heavy beat of traditional African music pumping through my body as my friend beckoned us to take our seats in front of the performance stage. We filled the time jamming and grooving to the drum sequences booming through the speakers and when the show started, my field of vision was flooded with colors, movement, and life. We screamed wildly for our friends who were performing, having never imagined that they could dance with so much purpose. The last number by the RASA dance team was incredible, bursting with an awesome sense of cultural pride and rendering everyone in the audience jealous that our bodies couldn’t move like that.

Our friend absolutely killed it as the RASA dance team captain, and we were happy to be there for her.

Cultural nights like Africayé are one of many at Rice. Ritmo! and Lunar New Year are equally enthralling, each in their own ways. I’m proud to attend a university where everyone celebrates everyone, and learning extends far beyond the boundaries of a classroom. The community that Rice fosters is one-of-a-kind, and I’ll be taking advantage of every opportunity to expand my limitless horizons. I’ve already added an entire album of traditional African music to my Spotify playlist.