Bernstein Festival of Arts offered potpourri of sights, sounds
Annual four-day event ran gamut of creative genres – from music to dance, theater to visual art
You had to be quick on your feet on the final day of the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts. One sound blended into the next as you moved through campus, one crowd replaced by another.
What Cheer? Brigade appeared outside the Shapiro Student Center. The uniformed 19-piece brass band seemed to come out of nowhere, playing their signature, "aggressively loud" street songs and separating a sea of fans as they marched to Chapels Field.
The crowds followed them - or sometimes led at the band's request - while the Boston Hoop Troop and other costumed characters mixed in with the musicians.
Children chalked brightly-colored designs on the concrete with public street artist Sidewalk Sam, and created masks inside the Shapiro Center, where revelers also found student belly dancers and visual art exhibits.
At the Shapiro Campus Center Theater, the Guy Mendilow Band, nominated by the Boston Phoenix as one of the best world music acts in the area, played a set that included a song arranged specifically for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Mendilow said Eastern European Jews' wartime story is well-known, but the plight of Ladino Jews is not. The song spoke toward entire Turkish communities that seemed to disappear overnight, he explained.
Part of the weekend's FolkFest, guitarist Ryan Fitzsimmons began his set in the theater with a nod to the folk festivals of Brandeis' past.
"I was just listening to Bob Dylan at Brandeis the other day," Fitzsimmons said, launching into "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," a song included on Dylan's recently released recording from Brandeis' first folk festival.
"I don't know why I always want to play that song like its punk rock, but I do like it that way," he added afterward.
Over at Chapels Field, the largest crowds gathered for SpringFest, which brought several rock bands to the stage throughout the afternoon. A small, shortly-lived mosh pit formed when Of Montreal hit the stage - a theatrical, genre-defying band from Athena, Ga., which played Boston's Club Passim that evening - while others relaxed in the grass or threw Frisbees.
The festival culminated in a Sunday evening performance by Brandeis' own Lydian String Quartet.