“Name That Tune”

Interview by Grace Shirk

On February 10th and 11th, Eastern Oregon University students brought popular music from across the decades to life in their performance, “Name That Tune.” The show consisted of high-energy song and dance performances of tunes across the decades. From Dolly Parton to Carlos Santana, and Neil Diamond to Ed Sheeran, there was a song for every individual.

The Chamber Choir, Music Department, and dance students spent five weeks creating and rehearsing the show alongside L.A. based choreographers Billy Rugh and Michelle “Mishka” Benton. A great deal of work went into the show–choreography, staging, costumes, props, and set pieces–but choosing songs was the first and most vital part of the process.

According to Peter Wordleman, Professor of Music and Director of EOU’s Chamber Choir, they began the process with over 200 songs to choose from and parsed it down based on style and decade, trying to ensure each audience member would have a song they could relate to. As Michelle Benton said, “The music just guides the movement. The music is the big inspiration.”

Hannah Johnson, Chamber Choir member and dance student, found personal inspiration in the show. Johnson, who hopes to attend graduate school for vocal performance, said that “working with Billy and Michelle … is a great experience and an opportunity to potentially have connections later on.” When asked about preparation for the show, Johnson said that “it’s a lot of work but so much fun.”

These sentiments were echoed by other cast members. Lilo Iese, Chamber Choir member, said that “the commitment and all the work you put in every day is the most difficult part.” Iese rehearsed every day for five weeks, only missing a total of four days. She dreams of being a performer, whether that means musical theater, being a singer, or being in a band; she just wants to perform. When asked what inspires her, Iese said, “performing can make a lot of people smile and make a lot of people happy … you can invoke a lot of emotions in people when you perform for them, and I really enjoy doing that.”

Perhaps Iese took note from Wordleman, who advised hopeful performers to “be willing to inspire other people.”

If inspiring others was the objective of “Name That Tune,” then the objective was achieved for the audience and performers alike. 

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