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Cafe Prima plays Penn Collective's student compilation CD throughout the evening. A release party for the CD will be held in Harrison's rooftop lounge. [J.S. Taylor/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

While television programs like American Idol highlight starry-eyed musical performers who dream of the Hollywood spotlight, one Penn student group has a different goal -- to showcase campus talent just looking for a stage. Toward that end, Penn Collective, an organization founded last year, has compiled a CD of songs by students who perform at "Up on Stage," the group's twice-monthly open mic night in the Rathskellar Lounge of Harnwell College House. Students got a preview of the CD, entitled ALINMA -- an acronym for At Least It's Not More A Cappella -- last night at Harrison College House's Cafe Prima, where it was played nonstop throughout the evening. Engineering senior and the group's co-founder Matt Russak described the venture as "just an effort to give local music more of a spotlight in the University." In an attempt to increase the featured musicians' exposure, 200 free copies of the CD will be distributed this Friday when Penn Collective hosts a release party in Harrison's rooftop lounge. The bands on the CD will also perform live that evening. "Things like this are great because you get people united, not through genres or political commonality, but a love of music," said College and Engineering senior Matt Keesan, whose piece, "Penn Song," was included on the CD. "As a listener, you come and are exposed to people who have the same passion." Engineering sophomore and performer Iqram Magdon-Ismail, who contributed the song "Come to Me" to the CD and is often an impromptu performer at Up on Stage, said he sees the open mic night as good practice for performing in public. "It develops confidence," he said. "It'll make me want to play places." Like the newly-released CD, admission to the Up on Stage events are free, as the group is funded mainly by independent companies as well as Harrison and Harnwell college houses. "The main drive behind the group has never been to make profits," Russak said. However, the organization may be looking into fundraising so it can continue its efforts in subsequent years. "We have a lot of big ideas," Russak said. "Like working with local clubs, trying to funnel bands into the city. [But] we have to build ourselves a little bit more." While students' reasons for performing vary, many use the venue as a form of escape from the pressures of college life. "I don't have any specific goals," performer and College junior Dan Craig said. "But [performing's] cool in the meantime." Still, some students at least half-heartedly indulge in a pipe dream of widespread success. "I'm doing it to see where it'll go," Magdon-Ismail said. "I'd much rather end up there than being a computer scientist somewhere.... It's more of a far-fetched dream, but [this] kind of keeps the aspirations alive." While Up on Stage and the CD were conceived with entertainment value in mind, Russak alluded to a deeper motivation. "Maybe we'll create some stars," he said Some of the performers have attracted quite a following on campus, according to Russak. Wharton sophomore Elena Avramov and College sophomore Malaina Freedman, two enthusiastic fans of Cheese on Bread, one of the groups featured on the CD, emphatically declared their intentions to attend the event on Friday. "It's a nice, comfortable environment where you don't feel judged and everyone's supportive," said Paula-Kaye Richards, a Wharton freshman and former member of New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir, another group included on the CD.

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