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Hsu to premiere two compositions during Pablo Center grand opening

| Judy Berthiaume

After years of planning, fundraising and construction, Pablo Center at the Confluence will open its doors this month with a grand opening celebration, welcoming visitors into a modern arts center that will support both community arts organizations and UW-Eau Claire.

Dr. Chia-Yu Hsu, associate professor of music, is among the UW-Eau Claire faculty who will help make the Sept. 22 grand opening a spectacular event, one that reflects the grandeur of the stunning new arts venue.

Hsu, an internationally celebrated composer, will premiere two compositions during the Pablo Center celebration, one during an afternoon event and one during an evening gala.

“I feel privileged to have two compositions premiered on the same day, while commemorating this special historical moment for Eau Claire,” Hsu says. “It is a tremendous honor and responsibility. Through Pablo Center, I hope music can reach out to more people. I also hope to share my experience with my students and to contribute to the society by using my music.”

The $60 million, 130,000-square-foot Pablo Center includes multiple venues to accommodate a variety of audience sizes and performance types, gallery spaces to display hanging wall art and sculptures, and academic spaces and faculty offices for UW-Eau Claire’s theatre program.

The state-of-the-art performance venue, funded by multiple public-private partnerships, sits at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in downtown Eau Claire.

The Sept. 22 grand opening will include a free family-friendly afternoon celebration and a ticketed evening gala.

The afternoon celebration, which will run from noon-5:30 p.m., includes several performances as well as opportunities for visitors to explore the theaters, galleries and other spaces.

Hsu’s “Confluence Fanfare” will be performed during the afternoon by the Brass Ensemble outside Pablo Center on the plaza.

“To celebrate the idea of confluence, the ensemble will be divided into three groups and positioned in three different locations on the plaza,” Hsu says, noting the performance is a collaboration between the members of the university and community. “Being in the center of the space, the audience will experience the confluence of the sound.”

The evening gala will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Pablo’s RCU Theatre. The “Cabinet of Curiosities” is a theatrical and musical celebration of the nature of wonder.

The gala will feature the premiere of “Terrene,” which will pair Hsu’s music — played by the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra — with images by designer/sculptor/puppeteer Chris M. Green.

“Terrene” comprises six short movements, each bringing attention to the natural beauty of Pablo Center and the landscape around it.

“The six movements are connected to the theme of nature, and some movements have more direct references of certain sounds or areas,” Hsu says. “For example, ‘Terrene’ has movements that imitate the sound of flowing rivers that join together."

“Terrene” starts with a solo piano, gradually introduces more instruments and concludes with the full ensemble.

During the first movement, drawing inspiration from the sounds of nature, birds begin a conversation as a choir, with a backdrop of wind rustling the leaves and branches. In the second movement, a clear summer afternoon suddenly changes as thunder rumbles and rain pours down from the sky. Flowing rivers are the inspiration of the third movement, which includes lyrical melodic lines depicting a picturesque scene along a shore. The next movement uses nontraditional techniques of instruments to create the sound of different creatures.

The fifth movement, 'Sparkle,' is inspired by the images and sounds of fireworks, Hsu says.

“I am always fascinated by fireworks celebrations in which many imaginative patterns combine to create an atmosphere of enchantment,” Hsu says. “In the piece, we experience a slow section as we observe the beautiful patterns and fiery beauty of each of the fireworks as they slowly fall to earth.

“However, every fireworks show has its finale — a huge salvo of booms and bangs and stars and comets of color. As 'Sparkle' draws to a close, we feel the finale of fireworks as the music reflects the launching and exploding of shells one after the other, leading to a grand finale in texture and tone.”

The final movement of Hsu’s composition depicts the different seasons in Eau Claire.

“The music starts with the low rumbling of sound, and gradually expands the register and incorporates different families of the orchestra,” Hsu says. “Different performance techniques imitate the various sounds in nature. The lyricism dominates the music. The movement ends with a full bloom of the sound and grand gestures.”

While she’s honored to be part of the grand opening celebrations, Hsu says she’s even more excited about what the new arts venue will mean to her students and to the community.

With a mission to support the performing, literary and visual arts, Pablo Center will host UW-Eau Claire performances and exhibits, as well as other concerts, performances and Broadway-style touring shows that no other regional campus or community venue previously could support.

Pablo’s unique design and vibrant spaces will help elevate Eau Claire’s creative arts scene to new levels, which will benefit the campus and community, Hsu says.

“I’m extremely excited about this new performance center because it creates all kinds of opportunities for musicians, artists and organizations,” Hsu says. “There will be more musicians and artists coming to Eau Claire, which will enrich the arts scene.

“It also will give students opportunities to experience different art forms and immerse themselves in cultural events. I plan to incorporate some events into my curriculum, and I will encourage students to attend different events and connect to the community.”

You can reach Dr. Chia-Yu Hsu at 715-836-4172 or

You can find additional information about Pablo Center at the Confluence online.

Photo caption: Dr. Chia-Yu Hsu will premiere two compositions during the grand opening of Pablo Center at the Confluence.