Final Coffee House of the Year Brings Smiles to a New Audience

Moorea Lambert, Arts Editor

On May 5, over 20 acts took to the stage at the McCarthy Arts Center of St. Michael’s College as part of Rice’s first Arts Night.

Performances included solo vocals, dancing, band, and instrumentals. The arrangement was coffee house style: a low-pressure opportunity to present works-in-progress, less serious repertoire, or simply art that students feel passionate about. The Music Department typically hosts three to four such events a year in the Rice cafeteria. However, for the final showcase of the year the cost to rent an outside facility was covered by the Student Life Fund. The space included the lobby, where physical artwork made by Rice students was displayed, including photography, sculpture, and painting.

Audience member Wilfred St. Francis, who has attended “pretty much every coffee house this year” believes the investment paid off.

“The environment was much different,” St. Francis said. “The acoustics obviously were much better. I think having a venue like this makes people want to go more.”

The performers enjoyed the new space as well.

“This showcases more of the Arts program at Rice overall and demonstrates everything that we do,” performer Aleksander Kulapin said.

Lucia Bird Matarazzo, who danced at such an event for the first time, expressed appreciation for the wooden stage and gathering overall.

“It’s fun!” Matarazzo said. “It helps make you a better performer when you get to practice around different audiences and appeal to different groups of people.”

For some​​, the evening was sentimental. Senior Catherine Viner performed “For Good” from the musical Wicked with Kerna Bond-Bardes as a celebration of their friendship.

“I hadn’t sung a song with [Kerna] yet, and that was really special for me, especially as my last one,” Viner said.

Audience members even arrived with posters and flowers to commemorate the end of an era for the graduating class.

“Growing up in this Music Department and becoming a new person through music and feeling the support from everyone is so great,” Viner said. “And it makes me feel sentimental because I’m going to miss it when I go away next year.”