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Spotlight on the performing arts: Alumni on the Fringe

September 16, 2019

The University is home to world-class programs in the performing arts through the Eastman School of Music as well as programs in music, theater, and dance in the School of Arts and Sciences. The new Sloan Performing Arts Center— a 25,000-square-foot facility on the River Campus—is slated to open in fall 2020 and will house a theater, scene shop, dressing rooms, costume shop, and green room.

Each month, we’ll interview a faculty member, student, or visiting artist in the areas of music, theater, or dance. Learn more about performing arts on the Institute for the Performing Arts website.


two people pose for a photo, smiling, sitting on a coach.

Chris Palace ’18, left, and Siena Facciolo ’19 worked together on musical projects while students at the University of Rochester, and as alumni that work continues at the Rochester Fringe Festival. (University of Rochester photo / Jeanette Colby)

A native of Vermont, Siena Facciolo ’19 graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in music. In 2018, while still at student, she released her first album, Dear House. A well-rounded artist, she’s a pianist, songwriter, and vocalist, and recently accepted a job at the City of Rochester’s Academy of Health Science Charter School as a 5th-grade music teacher.

Chris Palace ’18 earned a degree in audio and music engineering at the University’s Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A drummer, he has studied under Chase Ellison, a faculty member at the Eastman Community Music School, with Bill Tiberio, a faculty member at the Eastman Community Music School, and Kerfala (Fana) Bangoura, an adjunct instructor in the Program of Dance and Movement. He’s a founder of Juicy Connotation, a five-piece funk-jazz-rock ensemble that has been on two tours and released two studio albums.

Facciolo and Palace can be seen performing Facciolo’s soul-folk music at Nox at the Village Gate as part of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

What did you most appreciate about studying music on the River Campus?

Facciolo: The music history curriculum [in the Department of Music] on the River Campus is extremely rigorous. The music professors on the River Campus are top notch. I looked at music from different perspectives and I could also see my peers were interested in looking at music from a variety of perspectives. For example, I had a classmate who was into Catholic music history, and one classmate into Sondheim musicals and musical theater. I had another classmate who was into Beethoven and wanted to be a conductor. All these people were doing very different things and they enriched my learning so much.

musician playing the piano.

Siena Facciolo ’19.

What are you working on now?

Palace: I’ve been on two tours this summer—one with Juicy Connotation and then I went on an international tour through Europe with the band Archive Ravens. I’m also about to release an album that’s my own project, Dream Float. I play in a ton of bands as drummer. But I also teach lessons at Roberts Wesleyan College, at its community music school.

Facciolo: I’m slow-and-steady-wins-the-race moving towards my next album. I’m writing songs for it. I already recorded one of the songs. I’m really working on practicing and making my own technique better. [My current job] is my first teaching job, so I’m anticipating it’s going to take a lot of energy and balance. My other project is teaching piano lessons to young students.

What was your most memorable experience in performing arts at Rochester?

Facciolo: I went to the end-of-semester dance performance, and that was so inspiring that I would go and practice afterward because I needed to create. The student lighting was amazing. The dancing and choreography were incredible. Going to see other performing artists at the University was really inspiring.

Todd [Union] is also right near the practice rooms, so I could practice right before a show and go see a show and then practice afterwards. The close proximity and accessibility really helped.

I also took a meditation class, which was part of the Program of Dance and Movement, my first semester and that was life-changing. It really helped my music and makes the piano a relaxing space for me.

Palace: I regularly used the audio studio at Rettner Hall. I was the recording engineer for three of the song’s on Siena’s album. Stephen Roessner [a lecturer in audio and music engineering] really believes that the only way to become really good is to keep working on projects independently. He knows from his own experience that you have to record in bands; make and mix records. He makes the studio available to you as long as you’ve taken the class [on studio rules and guidelines.]

musician playing the drums in a recording studio.

Chris Palace ’18.

Q: What’s something that people might not know about you?

Facciolo: In February of 2019, we both [Siena and Chris] organized a music and arts festival at the Yards at the Rochester Public Market. We also both played for the event. I also planned a senior showcase with two of my classmates for all the music majors on the River Campus–which had never happened before. I plan events that I think the community needs and that I think people would really benefit from; or I plan events that I think will build community. I’m obsessed with building communities and nurturing them–which is probably why I’m a teacher.


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Category: The Arts