The Artistic Resource Team opened the doors of the Blind Duck last Wednesday night for their fall semester coffee house. Music, dance, and poetry took the stage as students and faculty members showcased a diverse array of musical and theatrical performances.

The event functioned primarily as a talent show, allowing performers to present their acts while audience members sat at tables below the stage. The tables at the back were laden with coffee and pastries for guests to enjoy as they socialized and cheered on the talent of their friends and peers.

The performances included a solo dance routine, spoken word poetry, vocalists, guitarists, and a harmonica act. Despite the traditional realms of singing, dancing, and instrumentals, each performer brought forth an original demonstration to the stage.

While each act had plenty to offer in terms of talent and creativity, there were a couple in particular that stood out to me. The second performance, the harmonica act, was my favourite of the night. Before hearing Luey Christopher Kwan Ho’s performance, I thought of the harmonica as a shrill western instrument—definitely not a sound I would describe as beautiful. Ho squashed this stigma with his captivating performance. He stood humbly on the stage and delivered two phenomenal songs. The first was a classical rendition and the second was an acoustic version of “Say Something” by A Great Big World.

The final performance of the show was a brother-sister duet. The pair performed Adele’s new song “Hello”, with Liyana Johan on vocals and Jan Johan playing guitar by her side. The duo stood confidently and opted to perform without microphones, joking that the song had too much power for the speakers. The act was chilling. Her voice was unwavering and brought power to the vocals reminiscent of Adele’s own voice. Jan, although only the accompaniment, infused energy into his playing that complemented his sister’s powerful voice.

I entered the Blind Duck uncertain of what to expect. I’ll admit, the only event I’d ever attended similar to this one was in high school, where solo members of the school band performed to an audience of bored classmates. Naturally, I was nowhere near prepared for the display of vibrant performances given by UTM’s artistic community. The performers are fortunate to have ART guiding their creative passions and providing them with means of public expression.

ART is an organization under Residence Life at UTM and the Department of Student Life that encourages artistic participation in students regardless of their academic discipline. With a strong value for creative expression, ART strives to create opportunities—including coffee houses, Nuit Blanche visits, and art festivals—for anyone seeking involvement in the artistic community. ART events such as the coffee house provide students with a creative outlet for their artistic passion. At these events, students can express this passion to a likeminded audience in a relaxed and accepting environment.

Wednesday’s coffee house was no exception to ART’s objective. With Christmas lights hanging from the walls, lanterns lining the edge of the stage, and, of course, free food and coffee, the atmosphere in the Blind Duck was informal and easygoing—a perfect setting to enjoy the company of friends while watching students and faculty members show off their talent.

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