LU Choral Arts information

 This post is in support of student leadership in the arts at Lehigh
~S. White; Dir. of Arts Engagement & Community Cultural Affairs

My name is Ohmny and I am the Lehigh Choral Arts Recruitment manager for this year!  Here at Lehigh we have two main choral groups: University Choir and Choral Union.
The Lehigh University Choir which is comprised of about 60 students who represent all three of Lehigh’s colleges (business, engineering, and arts & sciences), meets twice a week during the semester, and performs in four concerts throughout the school year. The Choral Union is comprised of Lehigh students, faculty and staff, and community members as well. It is a smaller time commitment, meeting only once a week and performs three concerts throughout the school year. The Choral Union also participates on tour!
***Members of University Choir can automatically choose to join Glee Club, the all male ensemble, or DOLCE, the all female ensemble.
We also tour every other year either to a different country or throughout the US (this year being a tour year!). Last time, we traveled to Hawaii and performed in a few churches and several high schools! Tour is TBA on location for this year, but you can expect something just as great.  Another event to note is that Choral Union and University Choir will be performing in Carnegie Hall this year!
If you are interested and would like more information about when the auditions are, how they are held, or what you need to know contact me at, message me on facebook, or familiarize yourself on the Choral arts website,, or on our event group,
I hope to hear from you soon!


We’re number …. what now?

reviewlogoThe Princeton Review has just released the annual list of  “[insert whatever of 58 topics here] college lists. Here are some of the topics where Lehigh ranked in the top 20.

  • Best College Library – Lehigh made # 20
  • Best Science Lab Facilities – Lehigh made # 14
  • Top Party Schools – Lehigh made # 6
  • Little Race/Class Interaction – Lehigh made #10
  • Town-Gown Relations Strained – Lehigh made #3. At least Duke beat us on this one.

For those interested, here is a link to their Lehigh University profile.

The criteria for the rankings:

Based on surveys of 130,000 students (average 343 per campus) at the colleges in the book in 2013-14 and/or the previous two school years. The survey asks students 80 questions about their school’s academics, administration, student body, and themselves. The ranking methodology uses a five-point Likert scale (1-most disagree, 2-disagree, 3-neutral, 4-agree, 5-most agree)  to convert qualitative student assessments (a.k.a, student’s opinions) into quantitative (a.k.a, numbers that offer ranking scale) data for school-to-school comparisons.

No school has ever paid a fee to be profiled in the Princeton Review.

The Princeton Review list is very different from the US World News & Report rankings in which this year, Lehigh was tied with FIVE others schools at #41. According to their website: “The host of intangibles that make up the college experience can’t be measured by a series of data points. But for families concerned with finding the best academic value for their money, the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings provide an excellent starting point for the search.”

Their criteria is a bit more robust: Schools in the National Universities category offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. programs, and emphasize faculty research. Topics such as faculty resources (student/ faculty ratio, # of PhDs), student retention, tuition, graduation rate, financial resources, and alumni giving rate are measured. But the topic that gets the most significant weight is the undergraduate academic reputation: opinions of those in a position to judge a school’s undergraduate academic excellence. The academic peer assessment survey allows top academics – presidents, provosts and deans of admissions – to account for intangibles at peer institutions such as faculty dedication to teaching.

While no one has ever paid to boost school rankings directly, there is a significant amount of resources (time, energy and money) allocated to make sure our reputation reflects our adherence to the educational mission of the school:

“To advance learning through the integration of teaching, research, and service to others.”

(read the full mission statement here)

The Princeton Review (to some) may have about the same credibility as a Buzzfeed Survey. To potential future students or parents of future students, these rankings can be a significant influencer on their school choice or their expectations of their experience before they even get here.

Why do I (an arts administrator at Lehigh) check the Princeton Review lists? Because it’s good to know what might be informing student expectations about their campus experience on all levels of life and learning. Institutional awareness means listening to student opinions as well as finding other research studies that inform our continuous improvement. Yes, there’s always room for improvement.

Why write a blog post about it? Because some of our non-campus readers may hear us talking about this topic in whispered tones over coffee or lunch in the community? Or maybe it’s because it’s a national news item every time the rankings are updated. Some may wonder if it is validation, or a distraction. Either way on this topic, we bob our heads up once a year to size up ourselves against our aspirational and peer institutions. Then we go back to work in service to the students who choose to come to Lehigh.

Now… what can we do to improve our score on strained Town-Gown relations?

Videos from various campus programs

We at Arts@Lehigh actively watch various social media channels to stay on top of great things going on campus and in South Bethlehem. Summer time is typically quiet on campus, but this sumer a few neat things have launched that show how Lehigh is evolving to meet the needs of a more diverse study body, and a more innovative learning environment.

Summer Scholars’ Institute
Sharing with great admiration to the administrators, staff and faculty who supported the program, here is a final video celebration to mark its successful completion. Give a little bit of your time to hear these students share their story. For those of us who work at Lehigh, this is what it’s all about.

This three-week preparatory experience was designed for incoming first year students who not only show academic promise, but also great potential in community/civic engagement and leadership. Read more about the program on the Multicultural Affairs website.

Update on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus
The video produced by Lehigh University’s Office of Communications tells a quick story from student descriptions.

Here are two videos that give a little more detail on two projects. The first is a project to study ventilation in mud huts. Yes, they built one!

The second video is about designing new play structures that are more shape shifters…

Oh, and by the way… if you haven’t seen the wonderful write up in the New York Times about the Mountaintop,we hope this link opens for you.


Humanities Center 2014-15 Programs

The Lehigh University Humanities Center is a wonderful intellectual and physical gem on campus. It’s center is found in a comfortable home-like setting on the far west side of Packer Avenue.

According to the program description from the LehighU Course Catalog,

The Humanities Center provides a physical home as well as intellectual, financial, and organizational support for students, faculty, and staff who wish to come together to participate in humanistic inquiry, understood in the broadest possible terms.

In addition to providing resources to support faculty research or creative activity, each year the Humanities Center Advisory Board, made up of faculty from various academic disciplines, picks a theme for interdisciplinary discourse. Themes in past years have explored concepts of  “Waste,” “Just Globalization,” “Contagion,” “New Bethlehem,” “Speaking Bodies” and “Excess.”  For each theme, the center presents a series of invited scholars, intellectuals, artists and writers to address related issues.

The theme for the 2014-15 lecture series is “Posthumanitities;” multiple considerations of “the place of the human in the humanities.”  Further description of the theme is available on the Humanities Center website. But also extracted here for ease and interest:

The human has long been the conceptual center of the humanities, disciplines that strive to come to terms with and document human experience in varied historical and cultural contexts. But, unfolding environmental crises, new technologies, and scientific developments in our understanding life prompt new questions about the humanities’ orientation toward the human. Have traditional modes of humanistic inquiry foreclosed, in violent and even catastrophic ways, possible relationships to our world and the beings we share it with? How might humanistic inquiry challenge its own disciplinary limits and its grounding in human, as opposed to non-human, life for a revitalized ethics and politics? And, particularly pressing for a series housed in the Humanities Center, what do the humanities, reimagined, have to offer to posthuman inquiry? While the natural sciences can teach us about the genetic and cognitive similarities between humans and animals, this series on the Posthumanities asks how religion, literature, philosophy, history, and art can help us to analyze why that knowledge does not lead us to treat animal life differently, to give insight into the subjectivities that shape scientific and technological imaginaries, and ultimately to retrain our desires and our politics toward more ethical relationships with plant, animal, technological, and human life.

We aim to provide a separate blog post for each event. For now, we hope that our interested reader will mark their calendars and consider how these speakers and discussions would spur curiosity and engage in the delights of a deeply thinking intellectual community.

Consider this post a “save the dates” notice. The events will take place in the Scheler Humanities Forum, Linderman Library room 200 unless noted otherwise.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 – 4:10pm
Cary Wolfe
Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor, Department of English
Founding Director, 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory
Rice University

Thursday, October 23, 2014 – 4:10pm
Location TBD
David Bates
Professor, Department of Rhetoric
UC Berkeley

Thursday, November 6, 2014 – 4:10pm
Kellie Robertson
Associate Professor, Department of English
University of Maryland

Thursday, January 29, 2015 – 4:10pm
Susan Pearson
Associate Professor, Department of History
Northwestern University

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Kalpana Seshadri
Professor, Department of English
Boston College

Thursday, March 19, 2015 – 4:10pm
J. Andrew Brown
Associate Professor, Spanish and Comparative Literature
Washington University, St. Louis

Thursday, April 23, 2015 – 4:10pm
Kelly Oliver
W. Alton Jones Professor, Department of Philosophy
Vanderbilt University

ArtsAlive now open to returning students!

This post for returning Lehigh students only:

Have you ever wanted to hit a reset button on your first Lehigh experience? There are quite a number of students who – for whatever reasons – don’t get a chance to try one of the preLUsion programs. There is an incredible number of programs now designed to give students a chance to get on campus early, meet others with similar interests and try new things.

One other advantage to doing a preLUsion program is the chance to try things that you might not have had time to try during the academic year. Let’s face it, when classes get started, co-curricular activities heat up, and the social life barely gets any time, trying something new is really had to fit in. How many alumni wish they could go back to campus and check off a few things on their bucket list?

The Office of First Year Experience is letting us try a little experiment for returning students.

ImageViewerIf you are interested in trying some really cool activities with a group of students interested in similar things, we have a few spots open in the ArtsAlive 2014 program. What does that mean?

You can try activities like theater improv, dancing, stage make-up, glass blowing or pottery, and take a couple of off campus trips to either Martin Guitar or a Museum. We explore the arts scene on campus, and lots of cool venues close by. $300 covers all fees, transportation, supplies and meals. You get to move into your room early, and enjoy a few creative adventures before the intensity of the semester begins.

Here’s a recap post from last year’s program. And here’s a link to another recap with a cool photo album at the bottom.

If you’re interested, don’t hesitate. We’re only keeping the registration open for two more weeks. Here’s a link to act now: CLICK RIGHT HERE, Mr. Mouse. If you have any questions, please email Silagh White directly at

What?!? ANOTHER festival in Bethlehem?

Just when you thought, “there couldn’t possibly be any room, time or resources to launch another festival in Bethlehem,” the Lehigh Valley Chamber is trying out one more. It’s happening this Thursday, July 10th from 6-8pm in the Sun Inn Court Yard. Come se dice, ‘Italiano’?  Yes, that’s right – we’re trying out an Italian Festival on for size. And why not?

Bethlehem LOVES festivals. We love community building celebrations that involve food, merriment, music and any other reason to gather folks near the businesses to support the local economy. So why Italian? Well, there are the four Italian restaurants on Main Street that will be open before, during and after the concert. And there are other Italian restaurants close enough to list because they are all within one or two blocks access to the Sun Inn Courtyard. Here’s a list of places with links to their websites: Mama Nina’s, Molto Pazzo, The Brick, Tre Scalini Ristorante, and Little Italy on Main.

Anyone who’s spent time on a college campus knows that pizza is a staple food item, right next to Red Bull and coffee. Maybe it could be said that college students are definitely pizza tasting experts. But have they really tried comparing pizzas available on the north side to the amazing South Side places? Here’s a good chance to do that. Oh, and a few of them offer gelato. Just sayin’…….

Lehigh Valley Italian-American Band

Lehigh Valley Italian-American Band

To get folks in the spirit of the festival, the Lehigh Valley Italian American band will perform. The Brick will be selling pizza and beverages in the Courtyard. But any one who really wants to form a qualified opinion about the variety of Italian dining in Bethlehem should really try all of them. Can’t eat all that pasta in one night though. Looks like you might have to make a few trips across the river to check things out. Heck, you just may want to leave your car on campus to walk off all the carbs.

So practice your Italian accent, or learn to talk with your hands. Here’s a few phrases to get you started:

  • Buongiorno! (bwohn-johr-noh) (Hello! and Good morning!)

  • Arrivederci! (ahr-ree-veh-dehr-chee) (Goodbye!) (Formal)

  • Ciao! (chou) (Hello! and Good-bye!) (Informal)

  • Salve! (sahl-veh) (Hello! and Good-bye!) (Neutral)

  • Buonasera! (bwoh-nah-seh-rah) (Good afternoon! Good evening!) (Formal)

  • Buonanotte! (bwoh-nah-noht-teh) (Good night!) (Informal)

  • Come si chiama? (koh-meh see kyah-mah) (What is your name?) (Formal)

  • Come ti chiami? (koh-meh tee kyah-mee) (What is your name?) (Informal)

  • Mi chiamo…(mee kyah-moh) (My name is. . .)

  • Come sta? (koh-meh stah) (How are you?) (Formal)

  • Come stai? (koh-meh stahy) (How are you?) (Informal)

  • Bene, grazie. (beh-neh grah-tsee-eh) (Fine, thank you.)

Hope to see some Lehigh swag in North Bethlehem on Thursday night.


YouTube about to change drastically – things you should know

Independent career networking and promotion in the arts via YouTube is going to be changing drastically. Soon. Announced just days ago,

youtube-logo2“YouTube is preparing to radically change the site, adding a subscription service that is intended to help them compete in the streaming music industry. The Google-owned video site has already signed new licensing deals with all of the major labels, but many independents are refusing to take part.” (read more in the Forbes article by Hugh Macintire) and the subsequent post by Ellen Huet (keep sculling under the first article) in which she describes more directly what is happening:

“YouTube is launching a paid subscription streaming music service to compete with Spotify and Pandora later this summer. It will be integrated with the free, ad-supported YouTube users are used to, but with added features available to paying subscribers.”

As an arts administrator, I use YouTube daily for research and for audience development. I’m not exactly sure how this change will impact the tools for the trade. I use YouTube videos to help people get a sense for artists they’ve never heard of; musicians, dancers, spoken word, speeches. I link to videos frequently for relevant content on social media sites. Curating art content would be a huge hit if the independent artists I support are going to have new limits on how we get to know them in a virtual world. I’m wondering what local musicians are thinking.

Before any conversation though, I’m now looking up artists like Dina Hall, Not for Coltrane, Dave Fry (this is not his channel, but a really cool TEDx Talk he gave worth a listen)*, Philadelphia Funk Authority *, Jon Fadem, Large Flowerheads, Dave Doll (And his band Beautiful Distortion), Alisa B Anderson, …

Paul Salerni, Bill Warfield, Steven Sametz, Eugene Albulescu, Michael Jorgensen, and the list can go on to include all the performance faculty, composition students current and alumni…. or even precious videos of Lehigh University’s ensembles.

After that brief research exercise, I found some names listed above have their own channels, others were tagged so that I could easily find videos in which they appear. By golly, if the capacity to gather these sounds in order for their artistry to speak for itself is limited – we’re all going to have to rethink how we touch the music. How will this change our habits, our constant need to have everything available through the keystrokes of our devices? Might we actually see more live music and … PAY FOR IT?!?!?

Some reflection in view of my vinyl record collection is required. Maybe I’ll up my biannual contribution to public radio. Thoughts are running by so furiously – I’m not sure where to end this post. Maybe I’ll just stop typing and turn on some music I actually paid for.

[any and all thoughts and conversation welcome here or in person if you see me at the next Farmer's Market in Campus Square, before a show at Godfrey Daniels, hanging around the Sun Inn Court Yard, the City Hall Sculpture Garden, Levitt Pavillion at Steelstacks or in the Zoellner lobby] Trust me – this issue is just as compelling as Net Neutrality.

Maybe John Oliver will do an episode on this, too.

* internet searching always gives me a few distractions that lead down unexpected rabbit holes. But they also trigger other ideas and connections. Like, the TEDxTalk I’m dreaming about – and the fact that the Philly Funk Authority is playing in the Sculpture Garden 6-8pm on Friday.

Touchstone Theatre – FRESH VOICES


[From the Touchstone Theatre Newsletter:]
For over a decade, the Fresh Voices apprentice showcase has been an audience favorite – always fresh, sometimes provocative, never ordinary. The show gives apprentices a chance to explore their artistic voices and capabilities as solo and ensemble performers. This year’s apprentices explore the theme of Beyond Worlds in their exciting new works-in-progress…

A movement piece about the monotony of routine

THE GIRL WHO WAS ANGRY by Mallory deForest
A girl’s journey through a mystical valley and what she finds there

I’LL FLY AWAY by Catherine Restivo
A dying woman and her burning desire to fly like a bird

WORLD TRAVELERS by the Apprentices
An ensemble-created adventure about three weirdos in a creepy carnival…

For the first time, this year’s Fresh Voices also includes work-in-progress by this year’s journeyman; Kyle Lewis caps off his second year with Touchstone by writing and directing Spare the Rod, a short play about a retired state trooper in his final day on death row, exploring the grey area between selflessness and selfishness in good actions.

A few thoughts form the Director of Arts@Lehigh:

I’ve had the best of luck to see this year’s apprentices in a new light; beyond  their appearances in the Touchstone productions this year. Last summer, my own children participated in the Camp Touchstone and were really engaged in exploring the world of theater. The success of their experience was the impact and care the apprentices made in getting to know the kids, and seeing them as individuals – not as my off spring. After last summer, each time the kids saw a Touchstone Apprentice, they made sure to say hello and let them know they were coming back to Camp Touchstone again.

I also had the great fortune to see some of the Apprentices work in the recent production of Mock Turtle Marionettes, “The Morning Time of Now.” It was a tender moment of deep connection between the poetry of Opal Whiteley and the music of Michael Smith. The Apprentices did a wonderful balancing act of puppetry, dance, singing and movement as the play touched the hearts of the audience.

Touchstone Theatre is an art organization the captures the soul of our community and gives it a voice through original work. Each class of Apprentices hones their skills, but also makes their mark on those of us who know what an asset this Theater company is for our community.

If in the midst of all the choices we have for leaving our work behind and being a part of some special moments you come across the idea of seeing the FRESH VOICES: BEYOND WORLDS performances, please give them your consideration.


Allentown Art Museum Waives Admission Fee for the Summer

Director’s Note – Silagh White.

When was the last time you went to a museum of art? If it’s been a while, the Allentown Art Museum is offering one of the biggest enticements for you to get there this summer, aside from their amazing collection and … oh, yes – the climate control! According to local news, The free admission — a savings of $12, adults, and $10 students and seniors — means access for everyone to the permanent collection, special summer exhibits, events and activities for adults and children that complement the exhibits. (Thanks, Morning Call) *

Regular hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm and Sunday, 12pm-4pm.

Did you know that art museums MUST have a controlled climate to protect the art? That means this is a great place to escape the heat and humidity while giving yourself the gift of time to plop in front of a masterwork and stare at it until it smiles back at you.

Sound silly? Maybe. When the writer of this post worked at the Toledo Museum of Art, escaping to the galleries was the best job perk ever. (and now the writer slips into first person). As a docent trainer, I knew were the folding stools were stashed. I also knew where the Cloister gallery ambient sound system was hidden so that I could turn up the volume ever so slightly. The Gregorian chant music resonated with the tapestries and reliquaries. I didn’t just escape to the Cloister. Each gallery was a mini vacation through time and foreign lands. It was a truly magical place. I found serenity in front of so many friends.

Monet - Water Lilies 1922

Monet – Water Lilies 1922

Yes, those art objects became my friends. As I would sit in front of the objects, I would imagine the artist struggling with their vision. I’d be asking questions about their process. Which line of the portrait did they draw first? Did they carve the marble from the top or the middle? Where did they really want my eyes to linger on the landscape? The objects became precious not just for their placement in the display case, but because they survived thousands of years and became the keepers of history.  I can still conjure up details of brushstrokes in Monet’s Water Lilies. While I stared, my mind would wander into the daily to-do list, lesson plans, performance reviews.We bonded over time spent together, reading each others’ minds. I remember so many ideas of how to engage with the work from the brilliant storytelling of the curatorial staff. Art historians would translate the iconography of Netherlandish Renaissance paintings, list the details of Greek mythology with as many plot twists as could be imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien, or animate two-dimensional Expressionist painting by instructing me to watch the layers play off each other.

When the secret of looking at negative space, or the expansion of a line outside the frame was shared along with the wave of an arm, it was like a magic wand took away a veiled sense of unknowing. This opened my eyes to new levels of wonder.

Seeing art in person is to understand the work of an artist on an intimate level. The picture of Monet’s work here is just a reference marker, just like the words you are reading are a reference to the memory I’m sharing. This memory comes to life when the reader and I do not have a computer screen between us. The memory comes to life when we are talking to each other, face to face over a cool drink in the shade on a breezy summer afternoon in the sculpture garden. (wait… Lehigh has a sculpture garden?…. Yep.)

Or the memory becomes the reader’s, as you venture into an art gallery to have your own private affair with art. Summer loving? Yes – and for a few fleeting weeks, the Allentown Art Museum is offering you, dear reader, a chance to place a piece of art in your heart.

* Check out the Allentown Art Museum website to plan your visit. Then, when you come back to campus – visit the Lehigh University Art Galleries. Same climate control, some opportunity to make a long time friend who is right now, literally hanging around just waiting for you to introduce yourself.