Bravo! PAC premiere opens with packed house, powerful performances

PAC premier
The PAC's 1,000-seat state-of-the-art performance hall was filled to capacity celebrating the opening
of the Performing Arts Complex that featured student and faculty performers from UTPA and UTB/TSC.

EDINBURG, TEXAS-APRIL 24, 2015-The Grand Premiere of the Performing Arts Complex on April 23 was a prime opportunity to blend performing arts from the Edinburg and Brownsville legacy campuses as they come together to become The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The free concert, which included faculty and student performers from both campuses, attracted not only arts patrons, but also students and community members to the PAC's 1,000-seat, state-of-the-art performance hall. It was the long-awaited culmination of a $42.7 million project approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents in 2011, said Martin Baylor, executive vice president for finance and administration for UTRGV.

Baylor, who oversaw the project's construction as UTPA's vice president for Business Affairs, thanked the many people involved in bringing the project to fruition, including the Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation that worked relentlessly to provide the funding for the PAC. He described the facility as a place for talented singers, dancers and musicians to flourish.

“I do take great pride in being a part of the team that has visualized, planned and created an environment in which ageless classical music will share the stage with the rousing sounds of mariachi and the romance of ballet folklórico … where talented collegians honing their craft will be introduced to world-renowned artists … and where seasoned patrons of the arts will share space with school children just being introduced to the beauty of the performing arts,” Baylor said.

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA president ad interim and provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at UTRGV, welcomed guests at a reception sponsored by Plains Capital Bank. He said the premiere marked a day to celebrate the talents of the students and faculty of both legacy institutions – UT Pan American and UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.

“Educational and economic opportunities are two obvious benefits, but increased opportunities for cultural enrichment through the arts will be an equally important measure of our success,” he said.
 
The performance opened with a rousing fanfare by 26 trumpeters from UTB/TSC and UTPA that brought the audience to its feet. The concert included musical performances ranging from symphony to guitar ensemble, some featuring UTPA and UTB/TSC students performing together for the first time. UTPA's award-winning Mariachi Aztlán and the UTPA Ballet Folklórico wowed the crowd, reflecting two of the Valley's most treasured cultural traditions.

Dr. Michael Quantz, associate chair of UTB/TSC's Music Department and interim associate dean of UTRGV's College of Fine Arts, led a guitar ensemble that included students from both campuses who came together beautifully, he said. Quantz called the premiere a galvanizing event for the community.

“It lets the public know in a very clear, impactful way that this stuff exists in the community for a wonderful purpose and is something that everyone is going to enjoy for a long time,” he said.

He described the PAC’s acoustics as “first rate.”

"You begin to play the hall. You respond to the feedback it gives you and you begin to use that as part of your expression," Quantz said. "When students get that experience – that changes the game."

The project, which also included renovations to Buildings B and C, added nearly 14,500 square feet of space for UTRGV's Fine Arts program to accommodate more than 450 music and dance majors and 44 faculty members. Building A, which houses the performance hall, includes a large lobby and four new rehearsal halls, as well as dressing rooms. One is designated the "Green Room," to honor a donation to the PAC by Emeritus Professor of Theatre Dr. Marian Monta, who attended the premiere.

Faculty offices, classrooms, a piano lab and a dance studio were added to the existing Building B. In Building C, practice rooms were expanded to nearly 40. It now has music analysis and listening labs. 

Artwork will be showcased in the complex's two art galleries and in the performance hall lobby where, currently, the work of McAllen artist and arts patron Kirk Clark is on display.

Students who attended or performed at the grand opening took special pride in the facility.

Avery Benitez, a senior from San Juan who performed in the student orchestra at the concert, said the PAC is a wonderful place for the community to gather and now is on par with arts facilities in other colleges.

“I hope this facility will attract more students who want to major in music and dance to come here,” he said.

UTRGV Student Government Association President Alberto Adame said the performance hall is magnificent.

“It reaffirms the university's commitment to the arts,” he said. “And it’s great to see the students enjoy themselves and be able to play at the premiere in this state-of-the-art facility.”
 
For Dr. Dahlia Guerra, dean of the UTPA College of Arts and Humanities and interim dean of the UTRGV College of Fine Arts, the PAC represents the importance of the arts in the Valley, a facility that will highlight UTRGV as the “heart and soul of the community.”

The new PAC is an exciting reflection of what's happening in the Valley now, Guerra said, the coming together of two institutions into a new university for the 21st century.

"This new Performing Arts Complex provides the very best facility for the education and the training of our students in the new College of Fine Arts at UTRGV," she said. "This is a life-changing moment for our students and our community."

Enjoy photos of the new PAC and the Grand Premiere at this photo gallery

For more information on UTRGV, go to its website at www.utrgv.edu, like its Facebook page, or follow @utrgv on Twitter.  

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