Ryan Chartrand

Looking for an evening of entertainment unlike anything you’ve experienced before? Cal Poly’s music group RSVP says look no further – “Changes” is coming to the PAC Pavilion this week, and it’s guaranteed to change your idea of what a live performance can be.

“Be prepared to see something you’re not used to, something very abstract and artistic,” said Rob Viles, a business junior and music minor who is part of RSVP, the group producing “Changes.” “It’s a blend of all different types of art combined to create an overall message of love.”

If that sounds vague and ambiguous, that’s precisely the point. RSVP’s performances are hard to describe, even by those involved in their production.

According to RSVP, its productions are a “celebration of electro-acoustic diversity and compositional risk.”

Perhaps the best way to describe “Changes” is by explaining what it’s not. According to music professor Antonio “Greg” Barata, artistic director and producer of the annual production, “Changes” is unlike any theatrical, musical or dance performance most are accustomed to seeing. Instead, it’s a unique blend of those traditional mediums, delivered using the latest technology. The goal each year is to bring something new and different to audiences than in years past.

This year’s performance is actually the third episode in a trilogy. The past two shows focused on different aspects, or “virtues,” of music, according to Barata. The first show dealt with rhythm, while the second focused on melody. This year’s theme is harmony, or more abstractly, the virtue of “love,” according to Barata.

“Our show is a ‘thinking concert,’” Barata said. “There’s less narrative than a typical theatrical performance. It’s more like viewers see a series of vignettes, and it’s up to them to interpret what they mean.”

The story, if it can be called that, takes place in an art museum. However, it quickly becomes clear to viewers that this is not their typical museum. The museum’s custodian, played by Barata, walks the audience through the works of art as each comes alive and tells its own story, depicting different types of love. From serious to dark to humorous, all facets of love are represented in one way or another.

Since 1993, the show has been created almost entirely by Cal Poly students. From start to finish, everything from the creative process – casting, composing and eventually performing – is handled by students with a wide variety of expertise.

According to Barata, the “core” group of students in charge of production are typically enrolled in his sound design class, MU 412. However, as in years past, many students are brought in from other classes and majors to offer their specific talents to the production process.

Overall, RSVP is a collaboration between students from multiple fields of study that results in a unique blend of artistic expression.

“RSVP is unlike anything I’ve done before,” Viles said. “In a typical high school play, you just learn your lines and play your part. This is way beyond that. We’re learning every aspect of production. It’s a great experience.”

This year’s original idea for a theme came from Barata. However, each element of the production process is handed over to students early on, from prop and costume design to music composition and technical elements. In the end, Barata said the students take most of the credit for the performance.

According to Barata, the production takes on a life of its own early on, with students each performing their duties and offering ideas that are often better than anything Barata originally envisioned. This provides a unique opportunity for students to use their creative talents to think outside the box.

“In every show for the last 10 years, students have created something that was not my idea but was better than anything I could have come up with,” Barata said. “The show becomes their baby, and they raise the bar for themselves every time. We’re stronger in numbers than we are alone.”

You can witness “Changes” for yourself tomorrow and Thursday evening at the PAC Pavilion. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $14 for general and student admission.

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