Spectacular halftime show coming to Spartan Stadium
In an unprecedented collaboration between athletics, music and art, the Spartan Marching Band will perform its most complex, largest halftime show on Nov. 14 during the Michigan State University vs. Maryland football game, which begins at noon.
An amazing display of color, lights and sounds, “The Art of the March: Cues from Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’” will feature five musical sections, including “Crouching Tiger.” The lineup includes more than 600 performers, including 300 band members, as well as smoke, a dragon and Chinese instruments. In addition, 1,500 audience members sitting in the east side of the stadium will be asked to participate in card stunts to form paintings that will be shown on the jumbotron.
The designer of the 12-minute multimedia show is New York- and Beijing-based artist Jennifer Wen Ma, who led the creative team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. She received her inspiration from “The Art of War,” which is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, a high-ranking military general.
“Jennifer has worked with our students and our visual staff to help us influence the audience in an entirely new way,” said John Madden, director of the Spartan Marching Band. “The intercultural payoff is immense, as the music, rhythm and movement are derived from Chinese folk and classical scores. The show will be musically exciting, visually complex and colorful, all fueled by a spirit of cross-campus collaboration and partnership.”
Timing couldn’t be better as International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, kicks off Nov. 16.
MSU’s Cultural Engagement Council, a group comprising leaders from MSU’s various arts and culture units and colleges, is sponsoring the performance to celebrate MSU’s 18-month focus on Chinese culture, “The China Experience: An MSU Exploration of Arts and Culture,” which units have been celebrating in distinctive ways.
In addition, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of MSU’s China Initiative, designed to expand MSU’s presence and outreach in China through academic programming, research and economic development.
Football may seem like an unlikely platform, especially since neither it, nor marching bands, exist in China, Ma said. But Spartan Stadium is MSU’s largest stage – the perfect venue for bridging cultural understandings.
“Shared experience of watching creates community,” Ma said. “Art isn’t just in the walls of a museum or in a theater. It’s really important we go outside those walls and bring a shift in perspective, a new experience, to millions of people.”
The week leading up to the event, Ma will be on campus hosting a residency, which will include a discussion about the making of the halftime show at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Music Building. And she’ll give a talk at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. A list of events can be found on the MSU Arts and Culture website.
“This is an unusual, exciting and uncanny alliance that brings together many partners, uniting high art and entertainment for thousands,” said James Forger, dean of the College of Music. “This collaborative partnership shows a unity of purpose and focus across disciplinary lines, which exemplifies MSU as one of the world’s leading international universities.”
Partners in the project are the MSU Alumni Association, Asian Studies Center, MSU Athletics, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Arts and Letters, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Music, College of Natural Science, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Eli Broad College of Business, Office for International Students and Scholars, Residential and Hospitality Services and Division of Student Affairs and Services.