Stunning Halftime Show Unveils Nov. 14

New York-Beijing artist works with MSU Spartan Marching Band for unprecedented production.

On Nov. 14, the football field at Spartan Stadium will become the stage for the Spartan Marching Band's largest, most complex halftime show. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz.
Jennifer Wen Ma, New York- and Beijing-based artist. Photo by Joe Goldman
Spartan Marching Band director John Madden leads the band into Spartan Stadium. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz.
Jennifer Wen Ma takes photos of Spartan Stadium to plan the halftime show. Photo by Aaron Word.
Spartan Marching Band director John Madden leads the band into Spartan Stadium. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz

The College of Music will be at the center of an uncanny union of high art, athletics, and mass entertainment as the Spartan Marching Band performs its most complex, largest halftime show ever when the MSU Spartans meet the University of Maryland Terrapins on the gridiron.

On Nov. 14, Spartan Stadium will become an amazing display of colors, lights, and sounds for 12 minutes designed by Jennifer Wen Ma—the New York- and Beijing-based artist who led the creative team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.

Ma’s multimedia half-time show, “The Art of the March: Cues from Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’” will feature five musical selections performed by the 300-member Spartan Marching Band and 300 additional performers – dancers, flag corps, and choristers. Fifteen-hundred audience members will also participate in card stunts to form five paintings that display on the stadium’s Jumbotron.

Director of the Spartan Marching Band John Madden remarked that Ma worked extensively with band members and visual staff to create an event that engages the audience in an entirely new way.

“The intercultural payoff is immense, as the music, rhythm and movement are derived from Chinese folk and classical scores,” Maddens says. “The show will be musically exciting, visually complex and colorful, all fueled by a spirit of cross-campus collaboration and partnership.”

The halftime spectacular is sponsored by MSU’s Cultural Engagement Council to celebrate the university’s 18-month focus on Chinese culture:  “The China Experience: An MSU Exploration of Arts and Culture.”

“This is an unusual, exciting, and uncanny alliance that brings together many partners, uniting high art and entertainment for thousands,” says James Forger, dean of the College of Music. “This collaborative partnership shows a unity of purpose and focus across disciplinary lines, which exemplifies MSU as one of the world’s leading international universities.”

Partners for this project are the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Arts and Letters, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Music, College of Natural Science, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Eli Broad College of Business, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, MSU Alumni Association, Asian Studies Center, Cultural Engagement Council, Office for International Students and Scholars, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Division of Residential and Hospitality Services, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, Spartan Marching Band, and Division of Student Affairs and Services.

Spectacular Details

  • What: Artist Jennifer Wen Ma leads the Spartan Marching Band in a stunning display of color, light and sound to celebrate MSU’s 18-month focus on Chinese Culture
  • Where: Spartan Stadium
  • Date: Saturday, Nov. 14
  • Time: Halftime at the MSU vs. Maryland game; game will begin at 12:00 p.m. EST.
  • What Else: Ma will be an artist-in-residence on the MSU campus in the week leading up to the halftime spectacular. Her residency will include a discussion about the making of the halftime show on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Music Building. A list of all residency events can be found on the MSU Arts and Culture website.

Source: “Spectacular Halftime Show Coming to Spartan Stadium,” MSUToday, Nov. 3, 2015.

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