Shih brings “Songs in the Key of Earth”
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 17:10
On Friday night, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Staerkel Planetarium was the home of a highly interactive musical event put on by Patricia Shih, a singer-songwriter from New York. The attendees were treated to educational music about everything from weather to diversity.
According to the Parkland events website, Shih started making music at the age of 12 and was signed to a label at the age of 15. Since then, she’s been with multiple bands and has written several albums. She even had a special on PBS called "Patty Shih - Music from the Gallery."
David Leake, the planetarium director, recalls how Patricia came to his attention for a show at the planetarium.
“We wanted to do some sort of special event for our 25th anniversary. For the tenth and twentieth, we had astronaut Joe Tanner speak and we thought about doing something different,” Leake explained.
“Our show producer, Waylena McCully, attended a planetarium meeting on the east coast where Patricia Shih gave a short presentation on her concerts and how she would like to do more planetarium performances.”
“Waylena spoke highly of Ms. Shih so I decided to call her. I didn't think we'd be able to afford her given the physical distance, but it ended up she was coming for a conference in Chicago for the weekend and she decided to come to Champaign-Urbana for a visit.”
The show itself, only being an hour long, was very kid-oriented. Shih would play songs while Leake would control the planetariums visuals and audios to match Shih’s.
Leake explained how he did the show live.
“Musical shows are a challenge since there is timing involved but you can't program the show for set times. It all depends on when a song starts and its tempo. So we will have lots of visuals ready to go, but I am going to have to bring them all up manually,” Leake said.
“What this means is that she had to provide a script well in advance and the lyrics to all the songs, plus recordings of the songs so that we would be familiar with them. Her images and her video are then loaded into our digital library. It's not easy but that's why it is a special event,” Leake said.
Shih explained how the interactivity worked before the show and why she chose to make the show interactive, saying “There will be singing, dancing, sign language, spontaneous songwriting, movement and more from the audience.”
“My shows have been some of the top-booked in the arts-in-education field in the entire U.S. for over 26 years precisely because they are so interactive, educational and most of all, fun,” Shih said.
“Both kids and adults love being part of the show, and all ages enjoy it even if they are shy and don't want to participate. It's fun to watch others having fun too.”
The kids in the audience were very into it. Jumping at every opportunity to go on stage or suggesting a line for one of the songs that required ideas for lyrics from the audience.
The songs themselves were creative and catchy enough for the kids, which is probably important for this type of show.
Shih put a lot of sentiment into making a show like this and it shows that she wanted to entertain the audience as much as possible.
She even captivated quite a bit of the audience to come to her booth after the show to buy one of her many CDs and get an autograph from her. Everyone seemed pleased with her show and wanted to talk to her a bit after it was over.
For more information on the show itself, visit www.parkland.edu/newsEvents. For insight on what’s happening with the planetarium, visit www2.parkland.edu/planetarium. Patricia Shih’s website may be accessed by visiting www.patriciashih.com.