By Blake Blanchard
Alumni Plaza sits between A.A. Frederick’s Auditorium and the Annex. Both of those buildings make up Northwestern State’s Creative and Performing Arts department, which boasts some of the most talented students and faculty in the state.
For the students who call themselves a part of CAPA, going to school means perfecting their skills in whatever aspect of creativity is suited for them. There are dancers, thespians, artists, musicians and more.
This part of campus is home to an exuberant environment of artistic collaboration and monuments to the people who helped make it into what it is today. The department is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and Alumni Plaza at the center continues to be most common place where music majors practice their instruments. On any given day at almost any time, someone is playing a musical instrument on or near Alumni Plaza.
Taking in everything around that goes on outside of CAPA can be very interesting. On a recent Thursday afternoon, a percussionist practiced his drumming on the stage connected to the auditorium.
He shouted out to two other students, who also had instruments in hand. A boy rode past on his bike and stopped to converse with a group who were congregated around a trumpet player.
“It’s nice to play in the courtyard, and the students love to walk through and listen,” said 19-year-old Bruce Beth, a music student who’s also in band. Beth also compares the experience of playing right outside of CAPA to the adrenaline rush one gets when performing music in front of a large crowd.
A truck drove through along the path that is parallel to CAPA Annex, hauling several long pieces of wood that extend well past the tailgate, most likely to be used to build props for an upcoming musical theater performance.
“One of my favorite places to practice is the breezeway,” said trombone player Michael Dailey, 22. He was referring to the second story hallway that connects the two buildings of CAPA under a single roof.
Accompanying the harmonies that fill the air are interesting sights, including what’s known as “Lilly’s Fountain.” Known around campus as the CAPA fountain, Lilly’s Fountain was installed in 2006 at the center of Alumni Plaza as a “permanent tribute to those whose paths led to and through Northwestern,” in the words of a plaque placed near one of the many benches encircling the fountain.
The constant sound of running water now combats the soothing melodies of brass instrumentals.
Next to the fountain stands a tall, analog clock that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Beta Omicron chapter of Pi Kappa Phi at NSU.
“I saw the dedication plaque for the clock when I was a student, and that’s when I first became aware of the chapter,” said Shayne Creppel in an email interview. Creppel is an alumnus of both the fraternity and the university.
With all the sights, music and the sound of wind blowing, Alumni Plaza’s scene is always guaranteed to have a remarkable energy.
Photo by Valentina Perez Espinosa.