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Theater graduate is 'force for good' in community

August 28, 2014

Nothing just happens because. Everything has a purpose.

That’s what Marcelino Quiñonez believes, and looking at the trajectory of his life so far, it’s not hard to see why. Marcelino QuiƱonez on stage in a production of "The Fall of the House of Escher" Download Full Image

In February 2012, Quiñonez – then a graduate student in the MFA program at Arizona State University's School of Film, Dance and Theatre – agreed to help a neighbor fill out the necessary paperwork to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Like Quiñonez, the neighbor came to the U.S. from Mexico. “He’d been in the country 30 years,” Quiñonez says, “but he never filled out the paperwork.”

A friend of Quiñonez told him he shouldn’t be doing that kind of work for free. “I said, ‘It’s not for free. The purpose is that he can become a citizen and help his community. And I’m helping my community.’”

That same month, Quiñonez was invited to host an event for Dream Act students – for free. At the event, a photographer from TIME magazine asked to take his picture.

“As soon as he was taking the pictures, I knew something was going to happen,” Quiñonez says now. He thinks that his training in performance helped. “I was talking to the camera. I knew what story I was conveying.”

A few weeks later, he got a text from a friend: “Brother, you’re on the cover of TIME magazine.”

Quiñonez had been selected as one of 20 faces on the cover of TIME magazine’s “Yo Decido: Why Latinos will pick the next President” issue. He’s right under the “T” and the “I” of TIME, and with his slicked-back hair and trim facial hair, he looks not unlike Al Pacino, his acting hero. (He can recite whole speeches from the Godfather trilogy, from memory.)

That same year, Quiñonez ran for and was elected to the Roosevelt School District Governing Board, which serves 10,000 students at 19 different sites. A former teacher, Quiñonez knew the impact that education could have on a child. His own parents had not gone beyond grade school, but when he was a child, his mother asked him where he was going to go to college

“It was the first time I'd heard the word ‘college’ outside of school,” Quiñonez says. “It lit a spark in me. That's the sort of influence parents can have on children, especially first generation children.”

He decided on ASU for college, he said, because when he was a student at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre professor David Barker came to give a talk and work with the students. “He came to our classroom on Friday. And on Sunday, he was in the newspaper, the Arizona Republic. I was dumbfounded.”

At ASU, Quiñonez says, he could work with someone he knew, close to home, and “develop as an artist.”

“He brought to our program the requisite talent (he makes you want to watch him on stage) and the personal discipline, but above all, an unbending sense of integrity,” Barker says of Quiñonez. “His blending of theater skills with his political passions is seamless and perfectly symbiotic. Two of the more useful attributes a life in the theater affords you are understanding of and empathy for the human condition. And Marcelino exemplifies these attributes in all that he does.”

When he returned to ASU as a graduate student in theater after taking time out to teach English and drama at a charter school in South Phoenix, Quiñonez developed a project rooted in his multiple experiences.

“My final project (of the MFA program) was called ‘Dream Acts.’ What I decided to do was encapsulate my entire life in one piece. Since April of 2012, I've become this political figure, but I’m still an artist at heart.

"I wanted to make a comment on immigration reform without taking sides. I wanted to have a dialogue about it.”

Quiñonez started by interviewing people about their own immigration experience.

“I interviewed a Dreamer who has nothing to do with the political struggle, other than his own; I interviewed an immigration attorney, a woman who was a Dreamer and is now a successful lawyer.”

Quiñonez also put out a call for paintings commenting on immigration reform in the U.S. “As the director of the Artizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, I’m familiar with a lot of visual artists. I received over 30 submissions, including posters from the original marches.”

The third component of his project, in addition to the interviews – which became monologues – and the visual art, was a post-performance appearance by a friend who is an immigration attorney to answer questions from the audience in response to the monologues.

“We presented a different angle on the issue,” Quiñonez says. “I had people walk up to me and say, ‘Marcelino, this isn't really a one party issue. Both parties could take action.’”

In addition to Barker, Quiñonez credits Jake Pinholster, director of the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, with giving him the support he needed to bring his project to life.

“Jake Pinholster is revolutionizing theater in Arizona as we know it,” Quiñonez says. “Jake has made it his mission to give as many opportunities as possible. And when you talk about ASU, you talk about a university that is really at the cutting edge … of equality, of innovation and, really, of opening borders.”

For his part, Pinholster says that Quiñonez is “an extraordinary talent, on and off the stage.”

“We are extremely proud of the impact all of our students have in the Phoenix community,” Pinholster says, “but Marcelino's powerful combination of personal history, talent and commitment give him a unique angle on a lot of the most important issues of our time, including immigration, education and the arts.”

When Quiñonez received his master of fine arts in May 2014, he had already embarked on his next big project: campaigning to represent District 27 in the Arizona House of Representatives.

When did he decide to run for office?

“In the eigth grade,” Quiñonez says, without hesitation. “When I read a book about John F. Kennedy. I read that book and immediately connected to the president.”

“What President Kennedy taught me was that it's looking at a problem and then not making a promise as an elected official, but asking what can we do together to solve it. In all of my speeches, I’ve given ideas, but I've never made promises I can't deliver on.”

Quiñonez cites Kennedy’s famous phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” as one of his fundamental guiding principles. “You remove ‘country’ from that phrase and put your mom, or your community, and it's the basic idea of ‘What can I do for other people?’”

And Quiñonez believes that with the kind of exposure and access he’s had comes an even greater duty to do good for other people. Take his appearance on the cover of TIME magazine, for example. “I was extremely grateful, I was extremely happy,” Quiñonez says, “but I also understood that my responsibility to the community was even greater.”

Quinonez lost the Aug. 26 primary election, but, he says, the loss “was but a drop of water in the ocean of my life. We'll continue moving forward, we'll continue our work and we'll do it with our heads held high.

“Over the past eight months, I have knocked on many doors and met many people in my community who were once strangers and are now my friends,” he says. “My volunteers, many of them young students … inspired this campaign; they made an extraordinary effort, they became part of the democratic process and they did it with style.”

As one theater colleague noted on Quinonez’s Facebook page, “Most of us don't get all the roles we audition for. And we have to roll with that. You will continue moving forward because you are needed, and you know it, and so do all of us who support your commitment.”

Another Facebook friend noted that John F. Kennedy wasn’t nominated as vice president in 1956, but he still won the election four years later.

“Every time I see him I ask, ‘Are you governor yet?’” says ASU’s David Barker. “Marcelino will be a force for the good in our state for many years.”

Deborah Sussman Susser

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


ASU News

Free concert at Gammage to showcase ASU's finest musicians

February 10, 2014

Annual Concert of Soloists features full orchestra

Come out to the Tempe campus to enjoy what ASU's Timothy Russell says is "one of the most exciting concerts of the year." Download Full Image

The Concert of Soloists, slated for 7:30 p.m., Feb. 12, at Gammage Auditorium, highlights the School of Music’s best and brightest – the winners of the ASU Concert of Soloists Finalists Program – playing together with student conductors and the ASU Symphony Orchestra.

Russell, a professor of music and director of orchestras at ASU, says the annual concert is a longstanding tradition that dates back to well before he started teaching at ASU 21 years ago. Shortly after his arrival, Russell launched the Student Composition Competition. The winner of that competition gets his or her work premiered at the Concert of Soloists.

“It promises to be a special evening that you won’t want to miss," said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music.

The concert is free. 

To determine who gets to play in the concert, each area of the school – woodwinds, brass, strings, voice, keyboard and percussion/guitar – holds its own competition every fall, from which two students go on to compete in the finalist program. Each division of the school sends a member of its faculty to judge the finalists. There’s also a judge from music therapy/music education and Russell, himself.

For the finals, the students performed accompanied by a piano, but on Feb. 12, the four winners of the competition will perform with a full orchestra.

“The concert is of great interest to the community because it showcases so many different dimensions of our School of Music," Russell said.

This year, three of the four winners are undergraduates: Andrew Boyle, a second year undergraduate in the piano performance program studying with Robert Hamilton; Yuanmiao Li, a senior violin performance major studying with Danwen Jiang; and Marc Placencia, a senior tuba player studying with Deanna Swoboda.

The fourth winner is Kristi Hanno, a first year master of music student in clarinet performance studying under Robert Spring and Joshua Gardner.

The winner of the Composition Competition is Joshua Jandreau, a doctoral student in composition, whose piece, “In Light Surrounded," will premiere at the concert. Jandreau describes the piece as “a tone poem, which is exactly how it sounds – a poem, but through music instead of words."

Andrew Boyle, who will perform Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, said that being selected for the Concert of Soloists was a tremendous honor, and that he is excited about the opportunity because “it gives me a chance to share what I believe to be the meaning of the Grieg Piano Concerto with the public generally. It is enduring music that deserves a fresh retelling and rehearing by modern ears."

Clarinetist Kristi Hanno will perform a much more recent piece: 20th-century composer Henri Tomasi’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra.

“This is the first time in 21 years that (a student playing) Tomasi has won the competition," Russell said. “It’s very new compared to the Grieg."

Russell noted that while there are always “standard traditional favorites" that win the competition, the world of classical music is changing, and that Hanno’s professor, Robert Spring, has “really changed the way that people listen to the clarinet."

“When one of our professors is cutting edge, their students often follow their lead," Russell said.

Yuanmaio Li will perform Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, and Marc Placencia will play Rolf Wilhelm’s Concertina for Tuba.

Placencia said that he was excited to play the tuba for an audience that may never have heard it played as a solo instrument. “Also," he added, “playing a concerto in beautiful Gammage Auditorium is a rare and exciting opportunity."

The free concert at ASU Gammage is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Feb. 12. For more information about the ASU School of Music, visit

Deborah Sussman Susser

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


ASU In the News

Design students contribute to Mesa's future urban plaza

Four teams of Arizona State University students recently met with city council members to present design ideas for a new, improved Mesa City Plaza.

The students, from ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and The Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, were asked to create an “architecturally and artistically stunning place that could accommodate up to 25,000 people at one time,” according to an article by the Arizona Republic.

Along with three design firms, the students were recruited by Mesa’s Mayor Scott Smith, who was inspired by places like Chicago’s Millennium Park to create something similar in his city. One of the councilmen commented that the students’ designs reminded him of “the futuristic streetscapes in ‘The Jetsons.’”

Some of the concepts the students came up with include: a pedestrian bridge that would stretch across the plaza and connect a residential tower with a light-rail station on Main Street; portable “event modules” that could be moved around to serve different purposes for a wide variety of activities; an amphitheater; an elevated promenade; and a sunken orchard with fruit trees.

Article Source: Arizona Republic
Deborah Sussman Susser

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


ASU News

Herberger Institute sets stage for dynamic performing arts season

September 10, 2013

The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is offering a dynamic 2013-2014 season of dance, theatre, guitar and opera performances, including the world premiere of "The Fall of the House of Escher" and a 100th birthday celebration of the music of Benjamin Britten.

“The arts are vital to the cultural health of our society, and the Herberger Institute performing arts season is one way that we connect with our community and showcase the amazing talent of our world-class students, faculty and guest artists," said Heather Landes, interim director of the ASU School of Music and associate dean of the Herberger Institute. "We make the arts accessible to everyone by offering stellar performing arts experiences at less than the cost of a night at the movies." ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts 2013-14 Season Download Full Image

The Herberger Institute continually strives to grow event patronage and reach out to new audiences in order to provide a full audience experience for their students.

“Perhaps the most important component to these productions is not found on-stage, but rather in the audience. Audiences are absolutely integral to the training we provide our students, as each and every audience adds a special and unique learning experience for the performers,” explained Dale Dreyfoos, professor of music in the ASU School of Music.

A new single ticket discount program was launched last year with the hope it would encourage the local community to experience the variety of top-tier artists performing on the ASU stages and concert halls by creating their own season. Patrons who create their own season by ordering tickets to three or more events by Oct. 1 receive a 20 percent discount on their total purchase.

Sarah Hough, communications and marketing manager for the institute, says, “We’ve been actively working to reach more of the local community to get the word out about what has essentially been a hidden gem in the local arts scene for more than 50 years. We’ve been able to grow our weekly email newsletter subscriber list from nearly 9,000 to more than 35,000 in the past year. My hope is that this will result in greater community engagement with, and support for our immensely talented students and faculty.”

Highlights of the season include:

Sept. 27–29: Fuse – A collaboration by artists in dance and theatre at ASU, “Fuse” will feature collaborative, interdisciplinary work by students, faculty and guest artists from the newly fused School of Film, Dance and Theatre.

Oct. 3-6: La Périchole – Lyric Opera Theatre kicks off its 50th anniversary season with Offenbach’s sparkling operetta, “La Périchole,” filled to the brim with enchanting melodies, high-kicking can-cans, whirling waltzes and riotous comic action. A fun-filled evening for the entire family!

Oct. 4: Roland Dyens – The immensely popular French guitarist, composer and arranger Roland Dyens is known for his extraordinary capacity for improvisation.

Nov. 1: The Music of Benjamin Britten – Join faculty artists Andrew Campbell and Katherine McLin along with guest artists Ron Brendel and Kristin Dauphinais for a 100th birthday celebration of the iconic English composer.

Dec. 7-8: 11th Annual Organ Christmas Concert – To celebrate the 11th anniversary of Christmas concerts, Goldman Professor of Organ, Kimberly Marshall, and the ASU Organ Studio will pull out all the stops. The glorious music and festively decorated Organ Hall will get you in the holiday spirit.

Jan. 12: Michael Kocour – Always a hit, ASU associate professor Michael Kocour presents an evening of musical explorations through American standards, jazz classics and original compositions.

March 28: St. Lawrence String Quartet – The third in this three-part concert series includes Haydn’s “D major, Op. 71 No. 2,” Britten’s “No. 2” and Beethoven’s “Op. 59 No. 3.”

April 4-6, 10-13: Nation  – A parallel world, 1860. Two teenagers thrown together by a tsunami that has destroyed Mau’s village and left Daphne shipwrecked on his South Pacific island, thousands of miles from home.

April 17, 19, 24-27: RENT – Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “RENT” has become a pop culture phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages. This show is meant for mature audiences only.

April 26-27: Dance Annual – The Dance Annual highlights the season by presenting some of the most captivating work created throughout the year. This collection features the work of faculty, visiting artists and alumni, as well as graduate and undergraduate students.

For a complete listing of the Herberger Institute season, visit or contact the Herberger Institute box office at 480.965.6447.

In addition to the performances in the 2013–14 performing arts season, the Herberger Institute offers numerous additional events on the ASU Tempe campus and throughout the community that are open to the public, many of which are free to attend.

“The availability of this variety and caliber of live performing arts is an invaluable cultural resource for Valley residents," said ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre Director, Jacob Pinholster.

Additional events include art and design exhibitions, film screenings, talks, lecture series, workshops, recitals, concerts and symposia each year. Among this year’s highlights are weekly, stunning and thought-provoking student and faculty art exhibitions in the five School of Art galleries; open studio nights, lecture series and InnovationSpace and design exhibitions from The Design School; interactive Digital Culture open houses from Arts, Media + Engineering; the 9th Annual ASU Student Film Festival; and world-class contemporary art exhibitions and collections at the ASU Art Museum.

Box office hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, excluding holidays. Box office hours are subject to change, so contact the box office at 480.965.6447 before visiting.

ASU News

Registration open for community arts classes

December 14, 2009

Draw out your inner artist and begin 2010 by enrolling in non-credit classes that stir your creative tendencies. Registration is underway for spring classes offered by the ASU Herberger Institute Community School for Design and the Arts. Advance your abilities and learn from the best ASU graduate students and professors, as well as participating community artists in a university setting. Instruction in several disciplines ranging from art, digital art and dance to design, drama and music is available to artists of all skill levels and ages from preschool through adult.

Everyone can take advantage of several new class offerings during the spring 2010 season. Private instruction now is available in art, dance, music and theatre. New adult art and design classes are available for ages 15 and up, including: drawing, painting, digital photography, digital animation, Web site design, blogs and branding, graphic design, fashion design, acting, piano and guitar. For the younger arts student, pre-school classes now are offered in art, dance, music and theatre. Download Full Image

Spring 2010 classes for aspiring artists of all ages begin in February on the ASU Tempe campus. Class space is limited, so now is the time to enroll your children and yourself. Spring 2010 registration continues through the first day of each class, as space allows. Financial aid and ASU student and staff discounts also are available. Some class restrictions may apply. For class times, locations and details, call the ASU Herberger Institute Community School for Design and the Arts at 480.727.0700, or visit:  ">">

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group