The Arts

Dear friends,

How are you? We hope your participation in virtual Hartnell College arts programs this past year has helped lift your spirits. For my family, these wonderful programs have been a lifeline and a promise – better days ahead!

At Hartnell, the visual and performing arts lead our students to deeper learning, more creative thinking and greater innovation – more important than ever throughout the pandemic and the recovery finally getting underway. I am personally excited about a very recent collaboration! The Hartnell choral performance for our virtual Gala for the Arts in November led to a special request by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to co-create something for everyone who has been missing their “favorite things.” Read on for details about this project and where you can see their spectacular new video.

We miss you, too! We hope to see you again soon – virtually as long as needed; in person as soon as feasible. Meanwhile, please send your questions, ideas or comments at any time and share this newsletter with everyone you know!

Paulette Lynch
2020-21 Chair
Council for the Arts
Hartnell College Foundation


VIRTUAL GALA for the Arts is huge success in an ‘extraordinary year’

The 20th anniversary of the Gala for the Arts happened to fall in a year when the traditional in-person party and theatrical presentation
by The Western Stage were impossible, but the show did go on thanks to a one-hour virtual program on Nov. 21. More than 100 people watched the prerecorded event when it debuted at 7 p.m. that evening, and about 260 more have since viewed it on YouTube. Sponsorships and donors contributed $40,000 for The Western Stage and other arts programs at Hartnell, making it one of the most successful galas ever.

“The gala has been a great way to raise funds to support all the amazing programs at Hartnell College,” said Council for the Arts President Paulette Lynch, in closing remarks. “Many of you have great memories like I do. We’re so grateful for your wonderful support in the extraordinary year that we have this year.”

Interim Superintendent/President Dr. Raúl Rodríguez helped open the evening, and entertaining segments ranged from a Zoom performance by vocal students, alumni, family and staff, as well as recorded performances by the college’s Community Orchestra and Jazz Band, a preview of “Over the Rainbow” sung by Savannah Allen, from next year’s stage presentation of “The Wizard of Oz” — and much more. Pictured is Philip Tuffs, a student who performs as a pit musician with The Western Stage orchestra.

Also featured were a Hartnell Gallery exhibition by art instructor Lesha Rodriguez from her time spent in Oaxaca, Mexico; Dr. Marnie Glazier, theatre arts and cinema instructor and founder of the Salinas Valley Arts and Innovation Hub; and cinema graduate Johnny Ray Avila of NEH Films, who shared his upcoming feature film trailer “Perpetual March.” The event concluded with performances by the Hartnell Orchestra, Jazz Band and Choir. Dustin Lance Black, a Hartnell and Western Stage theatre alum who won an Oscar in 2008 for Best Original Screenplay (“Milk”), offered a heartfelt testimonial about the impact of the arts throughout students’ lives.

“I can tell you without a doubt that when I was a boy, a painfully shy boy who felt like an outsider and just too different and considered dire solutions to end that pain, I found Hartnell College,” Black said, “and there I found mentors and teachers and a family that helped me understand that my differences were my strength.”

We’d like to take a moment to once again thank our sponsors whose commitment and dedication ensure vital arts education is available for Hartnell students to thrive.


Music Extravaganza on April 2, 2021

The Hartnell Department of Music will present its 2021 “Music Extravaganza” at 6 p.m. on April 2, featuring all of the performing groups in the Hartnell College music department. The event will be presented on YouTube and will include an opportunity to donate to the Hartnell College music fund.

Guitar students will perform under the direction of instructor Phil Collins, and the Hartnell Orchestra and Jazz Band (pictured in February 2020) will perform under the direction of instructor Steve Ettinger, who will also serve as emcee.

Vocal instructor Sandy Rudo will lead video performances of the Hartnell College Choir and Chamber Singers, and piano instructor Galina Vinokurov will introduce students in her piano classes, who will play a variety of short pieces.

“Even though students know that this concert is being presented in an online format, they are still excited about doing their best,” Ettinger said. “There is something about the pressure of putting yourself out in front of the public, whether it be as part of a concert situation or as a prerecorded event, that challenges students to rise to a higher level in their performances.”


COMMUNITY Virtual choral performance

inspires partnership on ‘Aquarium Things’ video

With help from Hartnell College Singers, the Monterey Bay Aquarium shared a message of solace and joy amid the pandemic on March 12 through a 3.5-minute video set to the song “My Favorite Things.”

The video, with vocals provided by 16 Hartnell students, went out to 100,000 Aquarium email subscribers and 153,000 YouTube followers, plus thousands more Aquarium friends via other social media channels.

The Aquarium staff conjured the idea of adapting the beloved “Sound of Music” tune and invited Hartnell vocal music instructor Sandy Rudo and her singers to help make it happen.

The volunteer Hartnell singers recorded their vocals in early January while on Winter Break, and the Aquarium team meshed the audio with video snippets of sea life and masked employees, reminding viewers of the wonders that await them when the Aquarium reopens.

The singers appear in a Zoom-style window at the end of the video, with the on-screen acknowledgment, “Special thanks to the Hartnell College Choir! You’re otterly pawesome!”

“They were just thrilled to be asked to do this,” said Rudo, who directs the Hartnell Choir and Chamber Singers. Brandon Ellsworth, choir director at North Salinas High School, helped with the production.

Inspiration for the Aquarium video came from the choir’s performance in the virtual Gala for the Arts on Nov. 21. The next Virtual Choral Concert will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on May 9, via YouTube.


Program engages students and shares new video

Theatre Arts and Cinema students and faculty have been adopting innovative strategies to stay actively engaged through online learning, including use of various video conferencing and social media platforms, from Zoom to TikTok to Discord.

“Challenges remain, especially in light of the economic and mental health struggles students have been confronted with in this trying year,” said Dr. Marnie Glazier, the program’s full-time instructor. “On the most basic level, students struggle to use the simple Netbook computers Hartnell has issued for complex tasks like audio and video editing and interfacing, while balancing work and school in economically challenged multi-generational households.” Meanwhile, the program continues to expand pathways in arts, media and entertainment in Monterey County in collaboration with the Media Center for Art, Education, and Technology (MCAET), Digital NEST and the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE).

A new film created for the Theatre Arts & Cinema Program and the Film, Television and Electronic Media transfer degree program celebrates student work and demonstrates TAC program pathways. A video by Johnny Ray Avila, a Hartnell graduate and Salinas-based filmmaker, will be featured on the Theater and Cinema Arts webpage.


TWS enters new era with Chin as interim artistic director

In January, Melissa Chin-Parker was appointed interim artistic director of The Western Stage for the remainder of the year, succeeding Jon Selover, who retired in December after 19 years in that position.

Chin-Parker, who joined TWS as a community actor in 1987, is the first woman and first person of color to inhabit the position of TWS’ Artistic Director in its 47 years. After serving in volunteer administrative roles, in 1995 she became associate artistic director and was promoted to artistic program director in 2001. In addition to the yearly subscription season of shows, Chin-Parker has cultivated a pre-season “festival” of workshops and performance opportunities (SpringFEST), a group for senior actors (LegacyPlayers), high school performance opportunities and apprenticeships; and has expanded TWS’ already-existing youth programs to include student matinees, touring performances, teacher trainings, summer camps, and all-youth productions and workshops.

She received a Champion of the Arts award as Luminary from the Arts Council for Monterey County in 2017 in recognition of her work with TWS. Chin-Parker is continuing to prepare for TWS’ eventual return to working-in-person and mounting the season of shows that was announced for 2020, as well as to create an online presence that will help TWS navigate the COVID pandemic and will serve as an exploration of additional avenues that diversify the theater’s offerings. She also will review the company’s programs, processes and procedures to streamline, as well as to view through the lens of her desire to provide wider pathways for students and deeper community engagement.

Speaking about her appointment, Chin-Parker said, “I view this as evidence that the college intends for the program to continue, in spite of our having to put our production season into a wait-and-see status for the time being. This speaks to our long history of excellence and the trust that the Governing Board trustees and college administration have that we can weather campus closure and return as strong as ever.”