UVA Arts Council grant will help revive popular performance series in the Music Library

In 2014, then-UVA Music Librarian Matthew Vest started a program, “Making Noise in the Music Library,” that provided a new venue for guest performers, including student groups and others who might not otherwise have a space to share their creative work. Vest envisioned that “simply by inviting music and noise into a controlled environment,” the program would make “the library itself a locus of the types of scholarly and artistic conversations that typically happen in non-library spaces.” He was right — the “Making Noise” series proved very popular, often filling the library during performances. However, due to the pandemic the season was cut short in 2020, and the program (along with the Music Library itself) remained shuttered throughout the 2020-21 academic year.

With funding through a grant from the UVA Arts Council, that will change. “Making Noise and Reconnecting after COVID” will revive the series in fall of 2021 and fund monthly performances through the 2021-22 academic year. Grant applicant Amy Hunsaker, Research Librarian for Music & Performing Arts, designed the revived program with an increased emphasis on student involvement. In addition to faculty, student performers will be invited from the Music, Drama, Art, Creative Writing, and Dance departments, and guest performers for two concerts will be selected and invited by an interdisciplinary graduate student steering committee.

Students performing a play in the Music Library while audience looks on. The space has high vaulted ceilings and bookshelves line the visible wall.

“Making Noise and Reconnecting after COVID” will transform the Music Library into a performance space, as the earlier “Making Noise” series did. Above, “Prospective” from “An Evening of Short Plays” — a 2018 performance by students in professor Doug Grissom’s playwrighting class. “Prospective” featured Randy Risher, Priyanka Shetty, Mary Ann Neale, and Jordan Maia.

Hunsaker hopes that the series will increase the visibility of the arts on Grounds, help build stronger relationships between the arts disciplines and between those disciplines and the Library, and also help strengthen relationships with the local arts community. Not only will “Making Noise” raise awareness of the Music Library as a partner in the arts and help rejuvenate live performance in the UVA and Charlottesville communities, but at least one of the invited guest artists will be from the local community. “By providing a platform for artistic endeavors at UVA and beyond,” said Hunsaker, “we hope to inspire UVA and local community members to engage with the Library in new ways.”

The $8,000 grant will pay guest artists, fund faculty honoraria, and support publicity and promotion of the performances. In addition, the grant will cover the cost of hosting receptions at each performance to encourage attendance and foster a collegial and casual atmosphere for performers and attendees to mingle. Hunsaker and colleagues at the Music Library will organize and promote the events and revive the “Making Noise” website, which makes information about the series freely available online. Visit the site for updates, and to learn more about the series and take a look at past performances.

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