HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 9, 2019 – Four High Point University music and theatre students and two faculty traveled to Costa Rica for the “Promising Artists of the 21st Century” tour sponsored and hosted by the Centro Cultural Costariccense Norteamericano.
This is the fourth time HPU has participated in this highly selective program that brings U.S. students to the country for a week of performance and cultural experiences. This year’s students are Madison Steiner and Corbin Elliott, both seniors, and Demetria Hale and Jerry Hurley, both juniors.
“During my time in Costa Rica, I learned the value of sharing cultural experiences,” said Hurley. “Bringing the American art form of musical theatre to so many who had never experienced it before was not only an honor, but a large responsibility. Thanks to the Centro Cultural, my colleagues and I were able to bring two different cultures together in a profound way.”
“Getting to work and perform with other musical theater students in Costa Rica is something I’ll never forget,” said Steiner. “It’s so humbling to know we’re sharing this art with students who don’t have as much access to it as we do. These students have so much passion and enthusiasm to learn more about musical theater, and it’s so special be able to share it with them and make these connections through our performances.”
The students performed popular selections from musicals written within the last 20 years and were accompanied by pianist Rachel Bennett, an adjunct music instructor at HPU. The student group was led by Dr. Scott MacLeod, associate professor of music.
The students gave various concerts in Cartago, San José, Limón and Puerto Viejo. They were invited into English classes to speak about their life and experiences and also collaborated with students from the La Colmena music theater school.
“I am so incredibly proud of these students,” said MacLeod. “They worked hard to prepare an impressive program, and they were very well received by the Costa Rican audiences, most of which had never been exposed to live musical theatre. HPU students also had the opportunity to share the stage with local students from La Colmena in a special collaborative performance. This was an important intercultural experience for all involved, and our students were outstanding ambassadors for HPU.”
Bennett and MacLeod worked with local students from the La Colmena musical theatre Institute the weekend prior to the students’ performances. They taught master classes, coached repertoire, and prepared students for inclusion into two scenes in the HPU Promising Artists performance in San José.
The Promising Artists Program was established in 1986 under the name “U.S. University Performing Arts Series.” This is the most important cross-cultural program that the Centro Cultural Costariccense Norteamericano promotes, and it has been expanded to other Latin American countries under the network of Binational Centers, which is recognized and sponsored by the U.S. State Department – American Spaces.
The network of participants includes schools such as Florida State University, Indiana University, Juilliard School, Berkley College of Music, New York University, University of Colorado-Boulder and High Point University. The Centro Cultural is very proud to host this program, because they believe it is very important to cultivate cross-cultural relations between the people of Costa Rica and the United States.
The participants are received as Young Ambassadors of their university and engage in a very active program during the week of stay in Costa Rica. Participants are selected students by the university leaders, prioritizing high talent and willingness to share what they do artistically with the young people and other audiences in Costa Rica. They perform at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, as well as other venues arranged around the country, and teach master classes and participate in cross-cultural sessions with Costa Rican students.