Not only does it offer invaluable experience to young musicians, UNCG’s annual Collage Concert raises thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for performing arts students.

Collage, now in its sixth year, began as a way to rededicate Aycock Auditorium, which opened in 1927, after its two-year renovation. The tradition continues.

This year’s concert takes place Saturday, Sept. 7, in Aycock. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.

“The students really pick up on the energy of the performance,” says Dr. Kevin Geraldi, who directs the orchestral program in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. “There’s nothing like performing for an audience that fills the auditorium, and that will stand up and cheer at the end. That energy carries through for them through the rest of the year. It’s a really powerful note.”

Collage generally sells out the 1,600-plus seats in Aycock. This year, organizers expect to raise about $15,000; because overhead is minimal, almost all of that money will go to scholarships. In the first five years, the concert brought in $48,000 for scholarships.

Support for students, financial and otherwise, is essential, Geraldi says, as universities compete for the best and brightest.

“One of the priorities for our school is to attract as many really talented students as we can,” Geraldi says. “The money goes right back to benefit the students who are here.”

About 80 percent of the school’s performance faculty take part in Collage along with students. All areas of performance, including orchestra, dance, jazz and opera, are represented.

Because Collage takes place in early September just weeks after the fall semester opens, the rehearsal and preparation pace is challenging. Performances are placed for maximum effect, and flow seamlessly into one another.

“It does require everybody to focus very intensely,” says Dr. Carole Ott, who directs the University Chorale. “It mimics the professional world.”

But, Ott adds, the fun is in the challenge.

“The pace is non-stop, and that adds a sense of risk,” she  says of the supercharged atmosphere onstage in Aycock Auditorium during Collage. “One thing ends and the next thing begins without any break. There’s total darkness and you are wondering if you’ll catch that first note in time. It’s definitely a rush.”

For more on Collage, including tickets, visit http://performingarts.uncg.edu/collage/. Tickets go fast.