The pandemic has forced most performance schedules to be canceled, but the Wisconsin Union Theater has done everything it can to present arts opportunities to the public, resulting in modifications for safety. The union will close out the year with a few more virtual events, including their 101st Concert Series season.

For over 75 years, the UW organization has been a center for culture and the arts. Their administrative team puts on their events with support from the students of the Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee. The WUD organization altogether has 10 committees and six clubs, which all put hundreds of annual events on for the UW community.

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The crises and revolutions of 2020 have made it challenging to host normal performances, but WUD has tried to modify their events for both safety and equality. They are using their platform to create social justice opportunities in the arts, taking action against racial inequities and promoting diversity on campus.

WUD is also trying to accommodate their acts during the pandemic. For the past semester, they’ve been using virtual alternatives to show performances to the UW community. This has brought a few unforeseen advantages, including the fact that they can reach more people in a simpler method. 

As the year comes to a close, the WUT has a few more events lined up for their Concert Series, including performances by the Christian Sands Trio and classical pianist Jeremy Denk.

Sands is, according to the WUT, “one of the most in-demand jazz pianists in the world.” He began with classical music, and eventually found a love for jazz at only seven years old. He is influenced by artists Grover Washington Jr., Miles Davis and Shirley Caesar in his recent album, “Be Water,” which he also found inspiration for in the mighty qualities of moving water. 

Christian Sands Trio performed at 8 p.m. Thursday, preceded by a live Q&A 30 minutes before the show. While many ticket holders missed their chance to hear Sands last April, WUD let them use their past tickets to get into this show. 

Denk is an exceptional classical pianist in his own regard, and has won honors such as the MacArthur Genius Fellowship and the Avery Fisher Prize. He has played with renowned bands and orchestras across the country. He is also a writer featured in the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The New Republic and The Guardian. Additionally, he has a blog called “Think Denk,” in which he writes about music and even composes his own.

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Denk will perform in WUT’s Concert Series Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m., following a live Q&A at 7 p.m. Pieces in his performance will include Robert Schumann’s “Papillons, Op. 2,” Clara Schumann’s “Romances, Op. 21,” Missy Mazzoli’s “Bolts of Loving Thunder” and Johannes Brahms’ “Four Pieces for Piano, Op. 119.” Tickets are available on the Wisconsin Union website.

COVID-19 hit the arts and live shows hard this year, but the WUT is doing everything it can to maintain the community’s thriving art scene.