On Thursday January 29th, the Lorenzo Society celebrated its 40th anniversary and the University of New Brunswick’s 50th anniversary as part of a special ticketed event. Tickets at $20 could be purchased in advance or on the night of the event. Despite a small miscommunication on twitter about the event being free, the night went splendidly.
At 7:30pm, Hazen Hall emptied into the lecture theatre to view a presentation and performances, hosted by Julia Wright of Country 94 and The Wave. The audience began trickling in, filling up the room, including the VP Robert MacKinnon and his wife, with tons of photographers there to commemorate the event.
Julia opened the night with a small speech, stating that it was a “major milestone […] [a] truly admirable and singular thing to see and [the Lorenzo Society] played a key role in promoting the arts”. Robert MacKinnon then came down to say a few words, stating that he “couldn’t be prouder of this evening” and that it was “very much in keeping with the high calibre the Lorenzo Society has set”.
After the speeches were completed, the society played a video commemorating the major points of the Lorenzo Society’s past. It began with discussing the old Film series, the opening of the “little gallery” art series, and even breakdancing and wine making. Professors Sandra Bell discussed the theatre portions, which hosted many types of performances, including theatrical on-tour companies. Jenna Albert was also in the video as the previous Vox editor, the student arts annual, which publishes photography, visual arts, and writing each year in a collection, stating that they publish approximately “thirty fiction and poetry pieces each year” of student work. Anne Compton, previous Reading Series director, was also included in the film and discussed the creation of the annually thematic nature of the reading series and her desire to vastly increase publicity. She also stated that the Reading Series “gives aspiring writers a chance to talk to published authors” and included both established and first-published authors.
One of the first creators of the Lorenzo Society, Willian Prouty, was also included in the video and discussed the Cormorant reading series, which gave never-published writers (as well as established writers) a chance to read for an audience. He stated that “there wasn’t any plan. It just happened”
The video was comedic and insightful, and wonderfully put together. After the video, there were a few performances to give attendees a chance to have a taste of the Lorenzo Society.
Scott Thomas and two students got up and performed an improv piece, called “Lies and Lorenzo”, outlining the very beginnings of the society with a comical skit that had the audience in stitches. After the improv, Mark Balgrove, author of Silver Salts read from his newest collection of short stories, Salt in the Wounds. After the reading, the Saint John String Quartet played two beautiful songs for the Lorenzo society, opening with what they called a “love song” which they “dedicated to the Lorenzo Society”. The final performance of the evening was a choir, who sang “Bare Necessities”, “Fields of Gold”, and “Skyfall”.
The evening then came to its close and Julia gracefully bid everyone a good evening, and the audience began exiting the lecture theatre for dessert, tea, and coffee, and to talk amongst themselves as well as those who were part of the Lorenzo Society and present for the occasion. Cathie Hurley, director of the Lorenzo Society, stated that “it was a historical evening”, and that “it was time to profile art and culture at UNB Saint John, and to celebrate […] the arts are alive and well here”.
Although there weren’t many students in the audience, the student volunteers seemed to have a fantastic time as well. Congratulations to both the Lorenzo Society and UNB Saint John, happy 40th and 50th anniversaries.