University of Central Florida’s annual festival of creativity, UCF Celebrates the Arts (Website), returns to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on April 2.

Since 2015, UCF Celebrates the Arts has provided the opportunity to thousands of UCF students, faculty, and alumni to showcase their creative side through dance, concerts, cabaret, lectures, film, chamber music, family-friendly events, and more. This year’s festival boasts a dynamic collection of 39 events, taking place April 2 – 15.

Demonstrating UCF’s commitment to providing access to the arts for everyone, half of the events are free to attend, while the remaining events offer discounted tickets for as low as $10. Students from any institution can get $5 off on select events by using the code “ILOVEUCF2023.”

In addition to events, the lobbies of Dr. Phillips Center will be home to eclectic exhibitions of visual art. These can be viewed even if you’re not attending an event.

The full schedule of events and exhibitions is listed below. To reserve your tickets, visit UCF Celebrates the Arts HERE.

Scheduled Events

National Young Composers Challenge | April 2, Noon
This unique event brings in young composers from across the country to hear their work performed and recorded by a professional orchestra. Six pieces are performed and workshopped during the free six-hour event. Patrons can come and go throughout the day.

Architecture Showcase | April 5, 5:30 p.m.
Enjoy a full evening of student presentations, a talk with a nationally known architect, scholarship awards, and more!

“Where Bright Thoughts Like Rivers Flow”: Storytelling and Writing with and For the Cherokee Nation*| April 5, 6 p.m.
Through a careful weaving of traditional Cherokee stories, Cherokee cultural practices, and archival recovery work, this virtual presentation by Emily Legg will illustrate the participatory nature of Indigenous storytelling and the ways this serves as a lived and embodied act that builds and sustains a community of knowledge-makers across time and place. Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

*This event will occur virtually.

Book Discussion: When the World Turned Upside Down | April 6, 7 p.m.
UCF Pegasus Professor and nationally-syndicated columnist Luis Martínez-Fernández talks about the period of momentous — some unimaginable — developments in the United States and across the world written about in his latest book, When the World Turned Upside Down: Politics, Culture, and the Unimaginable Events of 2019- 2022.

UCF Symphony Orchestra: When in Rome | April 6, 7:30 p.m.
The UCF Symphony Orchestra shines under the baton of guest conductor Eric Jacobsen, performing Dvořák’s Carnival Overture and Respighi’s Pines of Rome. Singers from Orlando Opera join for a preview performance of UCF professor of composition Alex Burtzos’ new opera, HE Who Gets Slapped. Selected songs will be performed.

UCF Opera Presents Speed Dating Tonight! | April 7, 7 p.m.; April 8, 1 p.m.
Under the direction of Thomas Potter, UCF Opera performs Speed Dating Tonight! by Michael Ching.

First Look and Discussion of War Unfolding | April 7, 7 p.m.
Experience a “first look” of scenes from War Unfolding as it follows historian Andrew Carroll’s journey around the world to find and preserve letters written during wartime,followed by live readings of selected letters by student actors from Theatre UCF. Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Swingin’ and Singin’ with the Flying Horse Big Band Land | April 7, 7:30 p.m.
UCF’s premier jazz ensemble, the Flying Horse Big Band swings under the direction of Jeff Rupert. The band will be joined by American Armenian jazz vocalist Lucy Yeghiazaryan, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, and the Jazz Professors.

Theatre for Very Young Audiences: The Day I Danced with Dinosaurs | April 8, 11 a.m.
The Orlando REP presents The Day I Danced with Dinosaurs. Get ready to party, because everyone knows dinosaurs love to dance!

TECH-nique: A Dance Concert | April 8, 2 p.m., and 8 p.m.
The student choreographers and lighting designers for this event have themed their pieces to be centered around technology and how it impacts our daily lives. For a piece she is choreographing, UCF dance faculty member Judi Siegfried is collaborating with UCF Professor of Engineering Carolina Cruz-Neira, founder of the immersive virtual reality CAVE system, to coordinate dancers’ movements and projections. The concert features original dances, from across genres including tap, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical and jazz.  There will be two performances, one at 2 p.m. and one at 8 p.m.

Creative Clash | April 8, 5 p.m.
Armed with markers, students, and alumni from the UCF School of Visual Arts and Design race against the clock to create artwork in front of a crowd. The theme will be announced seconds before the start of the event, so come cheer on the artists and help choose a winner at the end of the competition.

Graphic Design & Experimental Animation Showcase | April 8, 6:30 p.m.
A showcase of work from graduating seniors in the emerging media tracks! Generously supported by Adobe

National Choir Festival Concert | April 8, 7:30 p.m.
Artistic journeys start with education! The UCF National Choir Festival is an opportunity for high school choir directors and their students to work with world-renowned conductors. The day of workshops will conclude with a public performance at 7:30 p.m.

Inspired: An Evening of Chamber Music for Strings, Piano and Clarinet | April 8, 7:30 p.m.
The UCF Pegasus String Quartet and faculty from the School of Performing Arts presents Inspired, a concert featuring works for piano, clarinet, and strings.

REALity of ARTificial Intelligence| April 10, 6 p.m.
Experts in ethics, the visual art industry, and computer science discuss the societal impacts of AI and creativity.  Hosted by the UCF Center for Ethics

Brassapalooza | April 10, 7 p.m.
The UCF brass student studios, quintets, and faculty perform together. Travel back in time as students play repertoire from the Renaissance to modern periods. In the second half of the evening, the UCF Faculty Brass Quintet takes the stage for a program of varied works.

UCF Percussion Ensemble with Special Guests line upon line percussion | April 10, 7:30 p.m.
As the featured event of the Percussion Festival, this concert will include performances by the UCF Percussion Ensemble and guest artist line upon line percussion.

Project Spotlight presents Race to Infinity | April 11, 7 p.m.
In this student-written, produced, and performed play, a girl comes to terms with her family dynamics with the aid of an unexpected tool…a video game.

UCF New Music Ensemble presents homophone | April 11, 7:30 p.m.
The UCF New Music Ensemble and the UCF composition studio present an evening of world-premiere music exploring the ambiguity and richness of language.

Music for All UCF-Orlando Concert Band Invitational presented by Excelcia Music Publishing | April 12, Times vary
Twelve middle school and high school bands from across the state of Florida are invited to perform and receive feedback from a panel of nationally recognized educator-clinicians in Steinmetz Hall or the Walt Disney Theatre.

UCF Wind Ensemble & Symphonic Band Concert | April 12, 7:30 p.m.
Experience the power and passion of live music performed by some of UCF’s finest musicians. UCF’s top two auditioned band ensembles, the Wind Ensemble, and the Symphonic Band present an evening of music by some of today’s most impactful composers.

Mind Matters: New Plays for Teens | April 13, 6:30 p.m.
During the 2022-23 school year, Theatre UCF, Orlando Repertory Theatre, UCF Department of Psychology, and Orange County Public Schools teamed up with playwrights around the nation to create twelve new plays for high school students to explore mental health and wellness, supported by the curriculum for use in the theatre classroom.

Knight to Shine: A Musical Theatre Showcase | April 13, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
The spotlight is on the graduating Musical Theatre students as they take the stage for an evening of cabaret-style performances! This show will include songs from popular Broadway musicals. Generously supported by LIFE at UCF

Faith, Hope, and Love: UCF Choirs | April 13, 7:30 p.m.
The UCF choirs perform under the baton of Dr. Kelly Miller and Dr. Jeffery Redding, accompanied by UCF voice faculty, guest soloists, and members of the UCF Symphony Orchestra.

Inclusive Knights Concert Series featuring the UCF Concert Band: “Terrific Beasts and Mythical Creatures” | April 14, 11 a.m.
The UCF Concert Band provides an entertaining musical journey for people of all abilities and needs, introducing different creatures and animals, while music education students serve as guides to the experience.

Film: The Biggest Dream | April 14, 7 p.m.
The Arecibo Observatory operated one of the world’s most powerful radio telescopes until its collapse in 2020. Now, experience the legacy of the iconic instrument on a 57-year journey that takes you from the small island of Puerto Rico, past near-Earth asteroids, and to the deepest regions of space.

Writers Go Wild! | April 14, 7 p.m.
Writers Go Wild! showcases the work and talent of the Spring 2023 graduating students of UCF’s creative writing MFA graduate program.

Reach for the Stars: UCF Alumni Showcase | April 14, 7:30 p.m.
Travel back in time with Theatre UCF as alumni share songs from their time at UCF and from their professional careers. Hosted by Cheryl Hines ’90 (Curb Your Enthusiasm, I Can See Your Voice), the evening features musical theatre superstars who have graced Broadway stages, national tours, regional theatres, cruise ships, theme parks… and the humble old Main Stage theatre on the UCF campus.

Alumni guests include Sara Catherine Barnes ’08 (Footloose, The Amish Project), Hannah Arielle Beatt ’22 (Shrek The Musical, The Wizard of Oz) Jerusha Cavazos ’13 (The Prom, Between the Lines), Shelley Cooper ’10 (Sweeney Todd, La Divina: The Last Interview of Maria Callas) Quentin Earl Darrington ’16 (MJ The Musical, Once on This Island, Ragtime, CATS), Cornelius Davis ’13 (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid), Mimi Jimenez ’05 (Rent, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Grease), Evan Alexander Jones ’17 (A Big Day For Baseball, Tuck Everlasting), Michelle Knight ’02 (Disenchanted), Kyle Laing ’17 (On Your Feet, In the Heights, Jersey Boys), Catie Pires-Fernandes ’14 (West Side Story, Finding Nemo the Musical, Beauty + the Beast: Live on Stage), Joshian Morales ’12 (Hoop Dee Doo Revue, The Festival of the Lion King), Kayla Kelsay Morales ’12 (Voices of Liberty, Les Miserables), Jarrett Poore ’17,’20 (A Year with Frog and Toad, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Karen Yvette Reid ’14 (Festival of the Lion King), Rebecca Southworth ’06, Michael Swickard ’07 (Hoop Dee Doo Revue, The Dapper Dans of Main Street), Jenny Totcky ’17 (Shrek The Musical), Yaniv Zarif ’09 (Music Beyond Language) and a unique appearance by UCF’s very own rockin’ Spiderman, Justin M. Sargent ’08.

Play! A WUCF Salute to Fred Rogers | April 15, 9 a.m. – noon
We’re bringing together our friends and community partners for a free, fun-filled Saturday with Donkey Hodie, Alma’s Way, and Daniel Tiger. With WUCF

WONDERLAND: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure | April 15, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Venture down the rabbit hole with us! Participants will journey through a digital scavenger hunt, using creative drama activities, to unlock the Mad Hatter’s box of tea party supplies.

Home of the Brave – Theatre for Young Audiences | April 15, 11 a.m.
Inspired by interviews with military children from all branches of service, Home of the Brave showcases the joys, anxieties, pride, and struggles of navigating life within a military family.

PBS Kids! A Conversation with Sonia Manzano | April 15, 1 p.m.
Engage with special guests from PBS KIDS, including Sonia Manzano of Sesame Street, as they share insights into the making of children’s media. With WUCF

Art and Incarceration: A Panel Discussion of Prison-Based Arts Programs | April 15, 2 p.m.
UCF’s Florida Prison Education Project hosts an art exhibition and one-hour panel discussion on the value of arts-based prison education. Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A Conversation with Judy Woodruff | April 15, 2:30 p.m.
Veteran broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff joins WUCF to share her successful career in broadcasting and how the journalism field has changed over the past few decades. With WUCF

Behind-the-Scenes with PBS MASTERPIECE | April 15, 4 p.m.
Join WUCF for a conversation with Susanne Simpson, executive producer of the iconic PBS drama series MASTERPIECE. With WUCF.

Character Animation and Animation/Visual Effects Premieres | April 15, 5 p.m.
Enjoy a series of award-winning short, animated films from students in the graduate and undergraduate programs in the School of Visual Arts and Design.

A Celebration of WUCF, including Broadway’s Brightest Lights| April 15, 7 p.m.
A day of celebrating WUCF’s 10th anniversary with the university. The day starts with free kids activities in a tribute to Fred Rogers, and then transitions into three free panels featuring the three cornerstones of WUCF’s programming: education, news and drama. Special guests include Sonia Manzano (Maria from Sesame Street), Judy Woodruff (Newshour), and Susanne Simpson (MASTERPIECE). The day culminates in Broadway’s Brightest Lights, featuring Smash’s Megan Hilty and the American Pops Orchestra that will be recorded for national broadcast.

Ongoing Events and Exhibitions

Sponsored by the Downtown Development Board (Website)

Florida Prison Education Project
This exhibition from the Florida Prison Education Project presents a selection of work from artists whose practice is informed by their experiences with the criminal justice system to shine a light on the ways in which mass incarceration affects us all.

2+2+2 Architecture Showcase
Showcase of work from the 2+2+2 architecture program featuring student work from students enrolled in UCF, UF, and Valencia. Presented in partnership with the University of Florida and Valencia College.

Costume Display: Honoring the Late Orlando Fashion Icon and Arts Patron, Harriett Lake
Orlando fashion icon Harriett Lake is known for everything from furs to feathers to capes. Curated by Kristina Tollefson, associate professor of theatre and co-author of Too Much is Not Enough: The History in Harriett’s Closet, this exhibit will feature some of Lake’s most memorable looks from well-known designers to custom-made designs. Special thanks to Shelley Lake.

Character Animation Shorts
Select Character Animation Shorts will be shown before various events throughout the week.

Dancing Houses
Created by teams of students in 3D Design Fundamentals classes, this one-of-a-kind sculpture installation celebrates the Dancing Houses of Amsterdam.

OUC Rain Barrels
Rain barrels designed by local students as part of OUC’s Water Color Project, which teaches the importance of water conservation through art, will be on display throughout the center.

Since 2006, OUC has sponsored the Water Color Project, an education outreach effort designed to encourage water conservation through art. Through OUC’s partnership with Orange County Public School, elementary school students create artwork for OUC’s Water Conservation Calendar and middle and high school students paint rain barrels that get silent auctioned to the community with proceeds benefitting the winning schools’ art programs. Learn more here:

ART & AUTISM: Creatures of Imagination

Presented by the UCF-Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UCF CARD), this exhibit features the broad creativity and talent embedded in the autism spectrum. This year’s exhibit features an installation artist, sculpting a giant “Rapunzel” from balloons – to find it, just follow the braid! On April 15, a young artist will demonstrate his unusual artistic skill: drawing characters upside down and from memory. Audiences can also enjoy the music of a jazz/classical harpist.

Creative Clash 2022
View the pieces created at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2022, themed on fantasy and fable, on display in the center throughout the festival! Artists were teams of students and alumni of the graphic design program. The judges were also alumni of the program!

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