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Andrew Holzaepfel poses in his office in Glidden Hall in Athens, Feb. 9, 2024

OU Performing Arts and Concert Series upholds tradition of entertainment experiences

Tucked in a corner of Glidden Hall, Andrew Holzaepfel spends his days surrounded by keepsakes of his past work. The Executive Director of the Ohio University Performing Arts and Concert Series has worked with the program for 23 years, and his office walls are plastered with posters commemorating those years of artistic service to the OU and Athens community. 

“The Performing Arts Series encompasses everything from a classical quartet to a Broadway show to a country concert, and everything in between,” Holzaepfel said. 

In the fall 2023 season, the Performing Arts and Concert series held 41 public performances and 24 outreach activities, reaching a total of 34,985 attendees. 

A past audience member is Sophie Hillis, a sophomore studying art therapy. Hillis attended the Step Afrika! performance in the fall of 2022 as a requirement for her dance class, but still found the event interesting and entertaining. 

“It was really cool to see the culture, and they also integrated the audience into the performance, so that was nice,” Hillis said. 

Hillis said she believes that cultural exposure is an important aspect of the series. She hopes to continue seeing a variety of artists come through, including dreams of an eventual appearance by Lana Del Rey. 

“There are so many people here of different cultures, and I think it’s important to highlight that,” Hillis said. 

Holzaepfel affirms the importance of diverse performances and hopes to continue expanding the program throughout the region. 

“I want to provide as many opportunities for Ohio University students, but even larger, Southeast Ohio, to experience big city entertainment … at a really reasonable price,” he said. 

While the journey isn’t over yet, the Performing Arts and Concert Series has already experienced a notable evolution. Under his predecessor, Holzaepfel began his work with a traditional model of eight to 10 shows a year. 

“We built on that model that … previous people had established; we started adding pop concerts and other things,” he said. “(There’s) more revenue generation on that side to support the mission-driven activities on the other side.” 

These days, the series hosts up to 90 shows in any given year. According to Holzaepfel, the booking process for these shows differs on a case-by-case basis.

The main series, which includes an eclectic mix of jazz, theater, dance and music, is planned far in advance; Holzaepfel is currently in the process of scheduling the 2024-2025 season. In contrast, the pop and concert events are booked throughout the year.    

“We take recommendations from students,” he said. “We are often approached by agents with artist availability.” 

Student opinions and booking agents aren’t the only influences on the series. As of July 2024, the series falls under the umbrella of the College of Fine Arts. That opens the door to collaboration with faculty and student employees, and an updated ticketing model that has increased sales. 

“There’s a synergy,” Holzaepfel said. “It has not eliminated our ability to work throughout campus or with the community. It’s strongly encouraged by Dean Shaftel at the College of Fine Arts to continue all those relationships and expand on them. It’s just provided some additional resources.” 

The continued transformation of the series and the variety of artists and experiences involved has allowed Holzaepfel to hold his position for 23 years and still love it. 

“The best part of my job is that every day is different,” he said. “Tomorrow we’re working with the School of Theater … next week I might be working on a country concert, the following day it may be a comedian. Every day I come to campus, it feels like it's a different kind of day, and that variety is what keeps it very interesting to me.” 

Holzaepfel is particularly proud to have had Noah Kahan perform at Memorial Auditorium last spring when he was “right on his way up.” 

Meghan Martin, a sophomore studying environmental science and sustainability, was in the audience for that show and said it was a favorite of the many concerts she’s been to. 

“The tickets were cheap … I didn’t have to wait in any long lines, I didn’t have to … deal with any of that stuff you normally would at a normal concert,” she said. “My friend and I just went in, we got our seats, and it was pretty quick.” 

Martin said she believes Athens is a good place for events like these because of the variety of cultures and interests the community represents. Additionally, the location adds additional convenience and accessibility for Athens residents. 

“Outside of the school, it’s a smaller community, so people who don’t want to drive to Columbus to go see a concert, they can just come here,” she said. 

The Performing Arts and Concert series has provided Athens with thousands of world-class performances and events dating back to the 1950s. The series represents collaboration and support across the community and is a testament to a communal creative vision. 

“Every time I get to stand out and watch the audience respond to a performance that I brought in adds an extra bit of energy,” Holzaepfel said. 


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