Chris Hallberg wasn’t asking for a stage.
In fact, Hallberg, junior computer science and interactive multimedia major, wasn’t performing at all. He was only doing what hundreds of other College students were doing — taking advantage of the gorgeous weather and generally elevated mood early spring afforded students. He just happened to have his guitar. Strolling through campus, reveling in the first splashes of the sun’s warm rays after a long, cold winter, he struck up a tune on his acoustic guitar, strumming and softly singing a song by a band he had seen live the week before.
He wasn’t asking for a venue. He was just enjoying the day. So how did he end up onstage on a Monday night less than a month later, performing for an audience not of passersby, but of twenty-odd seated guests?
“After spring break, the weather was nice, and I was walking around playing my guitar,” Hallberg said, standing off to the side of the Brower Student Center Food Court’s makeshift stage before his performance.
He gestured over towards the stage’s left corner, where a man was bustling around setting up amplifiers, microphones, wires.
“He stopped me,” Hallberg said. “He stopped me and asked me to play tonight.”
The man perked up and walked over. “Were you telling how I saw you playing your guitar on campus?” he asked, face splitting in a massive grin. “I saw him playing and I thought ‘We need a guitarist for our show!’
The man is Roy Johnson, advisor of the Alpha Nu Omega fraternity, the College’s only Christian fraternity and integral component in composing the show Hallberg has arrived to play. The show was the “Night of Gifts Talent Showcase,” sponsored by Alpha Nu Omega and the first event in the organization’s “Navy Blue and Gold Week.”
“The reason we call it the ‘Night of Gifts’ is because we really believe that God has given us all gifts and talents that we have the choice to use and explore,” Johnson said. “We believe that there are more similarities between Christians and non-Christians than differences and there should be a medium of exploration for these similarities. So we are trying to showcase the talents that people have.”
The fraternity’s efforts to showcase gifts drew from a wide range of talents, from singing to poetry reading to Taiko, a traditional Japanese drumming performance.
Korey Carter, senior mechanical engineering major and president of the College’s chapter of Alpha Nu Omega, hosted the event, introducing each of the eleven acts that took the stage.
In all, the show featured four a capella songstresses (two singing as a pair, two separately), two students reciting original poetry, two pianists, two cultural performance groups (one singing and one drumming), one Christian rock band, and Hallberg, singing and playing his guitar.
The acts were well-received by an audience of approximately twenty fraternity brothers, students, and community members. It closed with Pierre Miller, 2009 graduate
of the College, collaborating with the sixth act’s performers, Tameka and Elizabeth Blackshire. The Blackshire sisters formerly attended church with Johnson, and he invited them to perform their Christian a capella duets during the show. Miller had performed a Chopin piece on piano and then played along with the sisters while they sang.
Carter took the stage at the end of the show to announce upcoming events occurring during “Navy Blue and Gold Week.”
“‘Navy Blue and Gold Week’ is our way of giving back to campus,” he said. “We call ourselves Alpha Nu Omega Incorporated and we call this Alpha Nu Omega week. But our colors are the same as the College’s, navy blue and gold, and that’s the reason we decided to name it that. The goal of this week is to unify the campus through a variety of events — it’s something that shows that we’re part of this campus.”
He was pleased with the results of the night.
“I thought it went very well,” Carter said. “There was a lot of diversity in the events. We had singing, poetry, drums. I think it shows that there is a lot of talent at [the College], talent that is not always displayed.”
Perhaps it was in that spirit — one of unveiling hidden talent — that Hallberg took the stage, though he didn’t stay there for long.
“I feel more comfortable just walking around,” he informed the audience, and stepped down from the stage, preferring to stroll through the chairs and tables as if it were a lovely spring afternoon, strumming the chords to “Sacred Beast” by Tally Hall on his guitar and softly singing along.
“It’s funny,” Hallberg said, “because the song (Johnson) stopped me playing is actually the one I (played) tonight.”