A Return to the Arts: Patrons Back for Newman Center Presents
With the house lights shining in the Gates Concert Hall, Joe and Julie Anderies made their way to their seats. As the lights dimmed and the murmur of the crowd stopped, the pair noticed a packed auditorium – signaling a vibrant return to the arts.
In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, the Newman Center for Performing Arts drew its curtains and dimmed the lights. But on Nov. 19, 2021, a near-full house gathered to see jazz singer Veronica Swift.
The 27-year-old from Charlottesville, Va., is no stranger to the stage. Her parents are late jazz pianist Hod O’ Brien and singer Stephanie Nakasian. Through her jazz music, she strives to preserve her parents’ legacy.
“You never know how or when you started. Looking back, I see just how much of an impact they have on my artistry,” Swift says.
And when the world stopped, people yearned for the fine arts.
“What art dictates for society, it’s capturing the culture of people and how we interact with people,” she says. “Art kind of instigates the conversation.”
As a musician and a patron, Joe Anderies understands the importance of live music and the energy from a live audience. During the height of the pandemic, he performed yard concerts for his neighbors in Washington Park. And though he introduced his neighbors to different types of music, his passion is jazz. Jazz, he says, is a metaphor for democracy – a convergence of form, structure and improvisation.
“You can have four or five jazz musicians on the stage. They may play a tune they all know. When they start to play it, they build it around that group of conversation,” he says.
For other season ticketholders, such as Kathryn Heet, live performances emote a more in-depth sense of storytelling. Heet and her husband are longtime supporters of the Newman Center.
“To us, it’s really important to support an organization that’s not just the Lion King,” Heet says.
During Swift’s show, she honored her parent’s traditional jazz style. But halfway through, she surprised the audience with Janis Joplin-style rock.
Swift, who recorded her first record at age 9, says she never looks back with regret. She records music with intent, and as she evolves, so does her music.
“It’s a record of where you are, but that’s all it is,” Swift says. “It is capturing a moment in time. My performance is the continuation of change.”
If all the world’s a stage and men and women are merely players, then Newman Center audiences have a big role to fill, ushering in the University of Denver’s return to its lively arts culture.