There are several traditions that are typically associated with homecoming: football games, tailgating and school spirit events. Among these things, the University of Indianapolis has a unique tradition—the annual Alumni Recital.
According to Associate Music Professor Mitzi Westra, who has been at UIndy for over 20 years, this event is an opportunity for alumni to come back and relive their history as a UIndy student.
“[The alumni] might not get to perform like they did when they were here,” Westra said. “They might not have a reason to dust off their instruments.”
Westra said that there is a legacy within the Department of Music that goes way back, and that people are able to see in the Alumni Recital. She said that it is easy for students to be tied-up in the cohort that they go through school with, but through this recital they can realize how much history there is behind the Department of Music and behind the people who have graduated from there.
Faculty adjunct and alum Meadow Bridgham will be performing at this recital as well. Bridgham said that this recital is important since it allows current music students to see that all of the effort they are putting in as a student is not something that only lasts in college, but rather something that they will carry with them forever.
“It’s something that’s a lifelong treasure that you search for and gain at the end of the experience and you share that with your friends and the next generation,” Bridgham said.
Westra said that a benefit of this recital is to see that there are many different opportunities that can come from a music degree.
“Musicians have to be so creative when they get out in the field and [students] can see some things that others of our alums have done,” Westra said.
Westra said being able to maintain the connections with alumni that were made in their time at UIndy is a benefit of the recital. She said that there are some really deep friendships developed between students, as well as mentor relationships between professors and students.
“The music department is a really tight family. The students who are in the department are with each other all the time…,” Westra said.
As an adjunct instructor at UIndy, Bridgham often performs in the Faculty Artist Series concerts. However, they said that this was the first time that they would be performing as part of the alumni recital, which is something they believe is special in comparison to other opportunities.
“…It feels special, and so to perform for a recital that recognizes myself as an [alumnus] is definitely a point of pride and I’m excited to do it,” Bridgham said.
Bridgham will be playing a piece of music that they composed at this recital titled “Responses.” This piece is a collection of responses to 2020 and everything that happened that year, according to Bridgham. This started as a project with the Westben Composer Performer Residency, which Bridgham was invited to attend in 2020, but had to attend virtually instead due to COVID-19. The goal of these compositions was to spark conversation regarding the different feelings and subjects that recurred frequently in 2020, according to Bridgham.
“We each chose a word or a concept to explore, and my word was unrest because I summarize 2020 as the year of unrest, and so I explored that in my own way,” Bridgham said.
Westra said the alumni recital has been an annual event for years now, but only recently, before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became associated with Homecoming at UIndy. According to Westra, this recital is a part of the culture of UIndy and is a great opportunity to have a representative of the arts culture on campus amidst the more traditional homecoming events.
“We do get so caught up with Homecoming equals football game, but there’s such a great culture on campus with the arts as well,” Westra said.
With the Alumni Recital now being part of the annual homecoming festivities, Westra said she hopes that it will open students’ eyes to what’s happening with the arts, and in the Department of Music, specifically.