TEDxPSU will challenge participants to ‘Go Further’

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Curious Penn State students stepped up to the stand as a 22-piece chamber orchestra waited to play on Tuesday (Feb. 25) afternoon in the HUB. As each volunteer conductor’s wand moved, the musicians responded accordingly.

“Conduct Us,” sponsored by TEDxPSU and the Penn State School of Music, gave volunteer conductors the chance to lead the musicians. The publicity event was a preview to Sunday’s (March 2) daylong series of talks.

You get up and you start waving your baton as fast or as slow or as big or as little as you want, and the musicians will follow your lead,” said Lauren Matakas, TEDxPSU’s director of community relations. “It’s fun to interact with them because they know what they’re supposed to do. Being exposed to music in a way that you’re not normally exposed to — because you don’t usually get to control what you’re listening to — is very thought-provoking.”

TEDxPSU, School of Music's 'Conduct Us' event

Around noontime publicity event previewing the 2014 TEDxPSU talks was held Tuesday (Feb. 25) on the ground floor of the HUB-Robeson Center. Twenty-two musicians from the Penn State School of Music Chamber Orchestra invited passers-by to conduct while they played.

  • Conduct Us 2

    A student volunteer conducts the Penn State School of Music Chamber Orchestra.

    Image: Heather Hottle
  • Conduct Us 3

    A student takes a turn conducting the Penn State School of Music Chamber Orchestra, which set up on the ground floor of the HUB-Robeson Center and invited volunteers to "conduct us."

    Image: Heather Hottle
  • Conduct Us 4

    Bystanders gather as a student volunteer conducts the Penn State School of Music Chamber Orchestra. Orchestra members played Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" as volunteers conducted.

    Image: Heather Hottle

This year’s theme, “Go Further,” is meant to encourage participants to act on what they learn at the talks, Matakas said.

Taking this action themselves, TEDxPSU organizers have been holding a community event the first Thursday of every month since the beginning of the school year to talk about different topics covered in TED talks.

Matakas said that while most monthly attendees are students, some faculty and community members have come to join in the conversation.

“TEDxPSU is very much a student organization in that it’s part of Penn State, but it also reaches so many people in the State College area,” she said. “Our speakers are community members, professors and former students. Penn State isn’t just a school, it’s a community, so we really strive to bring together every aspect of that community.”

On Sunday (March 2), participants will gather in Schwab Auditorium to hear 14 selected innovators in technology, entertainment and design give original talks (three- to 18- minute speeches about their field of study or experiences).

The 2014 speakers, most of whom are either Penn State alumni or current faculty, were announced earlier this month.

The independently organized TED event has hosted talks on Penn State’s University Park campus since 2010 with the goal of bringing together innovative and thought-provoking individuals from the community to share ideas worth spreading.

While registration to attend the event is closed, it will be live streamed at tedxpsu.com, and Matakas said a few Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also will be setting up viewing events. The first session of speeches begins at 10 a.m. Visit tedxpsu.com for the complete schedule.

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