Randi Alexandra Plake

Local Artist Paints Portrait of Master Drummer Adzenyah MA ’79

The artist Pierre Sylvain is joined by Chair of the Music Department, Director of the Electronic Music and Recording Studios, and Professor of Music Ronald Kuivila.

Music Department Chair Ronald Kuivila congratulates artist Pierre Sylvain on his painting of Abraham Adzenyah. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Hanging in the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall is a new portrait of Abraham Adzenyah MA ’79, master drummer and adjunct professor of music, emeritus, painted by local artist, Pierre Sylvain.

After 46 years of teaching at Wesleyan, Adzenyah was honored during a special retirement ceremony this past May. The ceremony included a building dedication of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall, formerly Rehearsal Hall. Two farewell concerts followed, featuring 150 musicians in West African music and dance ensembles from across the Northeast, culminating in an all-night dance party.

Sylvain was contacted by Ronald Kuivila, chair of the Music Department, director of the electronic music and recording studios, and professor of music, to paint Adzenyah’s portrait, using acrylic paint.

Sylvain first met Adzenyah 20 years ago, and painting his portrait gave them a chance to reconnect.

Sylvain explained, “The painting was truly inspired by him and the generous person he is. I felt his spirit coming out of my brush strokes.”

 

 

 

 

Watch a series of videos from Adzenyah’s Retirement Celebration:

Sudanese-American Singer Elgadi ’04 Releases New Album

Sarah Mohamed Abunama Elgadi ’04, known by her stage name Alsarah, recently released a new album, Manara, with her band, Alsarah & the Nubatones. Manara, or The Lighthouse, is rooted in the style of Sudan and Nubia, and inspired by East-African music.

KCET.org says Manara “is more fluid and free-flowing than the band’s debut album, lifted by moaning trumpets and humming electronics, broken up by interludes of radio static and bits of the album’s penultimate track ‘Fulani.’”

Alsarah, who was a music major at Wesleyan, is a Sudanese-born singer, songwriter, and ethnomusicologist based in Brooklyn. She is a self-proclaimed practitioner of East-African retro-pop. She has toured both nationally and internationally, and has released one full-length album titled, Aljawal, and two full-length albums with her current band, Alsarah & the Nubatones.

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Watch the full-length music video of “Soukura” from Alsarah & the Nubatone’s sophomore album, Manara.

Lame ’04 Discusses Film Editing Manchester by the Sea

Film editor Jennifer Lame ’04 spoke to the Los Angeles Times on her experience working on Manchester by the Sea, by Oscar-nominated director and writer, Kenneth Lonergan. The drama, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, is about a man who returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

In the interview, Lame explained how one scene between the divorced main characters made her surprisingly emotional in the editing process. “I’ll never forget the day I got the Michelle and Casey scene,” said Lame. “Just watching raw dailies, I was crying. That’s never happened. That scene crushed me.”

Lame also reflected on her time at Wesleyan where she studied film. She said she fell in love with the editing process here, but struggled to find satisfying work until she landed a gig in 2007 as an apprentice editor on Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, directed by Sidney Lumet.

Wesleyan to Open Bookstore on Middletown’s Main Street

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A new university bookstore will open in late spring on Main Street in Middletown and will be operated by RJ Julia Booksellers, the nationally known independent bookstore in Madison, Conn.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth speaks to a crowd at the new bookstore location on Nov. 30. (Photos by Laura Matesky) 

Wesleyan President Michael Roth speaks to a crowd inside the new bookstore location on Nov. 30.

The new bookstore will be located at 413 Main Street, near the intersection of Washington Street, and is expected to contribute significantly to Middletown’s thriving downtown. Popular restaurants, Kidcity Children’s Museum, and retail outlets are nearby.

The 12,000-square-foot space will be renovated with an open concourse design. Work will begin in December and the opening is planned for late spring of 2017.

“We’re committed to strengthening the ties between campus and Main Street,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Relocating Wesleyan’s bookstore is a major step in the direction, and I am so delighted that R.J. Julia Booksellers, with their phenomenal reputation, will be our partner in this effort.”

During previous discussions about moving the bookstore, Wesleyan community members had advocated a Main Street location and urged that the university avoid using a national chain to run it. The new location responds to those concerns and will be a vibrant place for special events, as well as ongoing business. It will improve first impressions for prospective students and families. Also, the new location will create more connections between campus and Main Street by giving students, faculty, and staff reasons to go downtown to take advantage of a new cultural hub.

During textbook buying periods, Wesleyan will provide additional shuttle service to the new bookstore.

Opened 26 years ago as an independent bookstore, RJ Julia hosts more than 300 events each year in Madison and has won several major awards. Among those are Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year, Lucile Pannell award for bookselling excellence, and Connecticut Magazine Best Bookstore.

Wesleyan Hosts 8th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of Connecticut

Professor Gilmore accepting the Joe Weber Award

Marty Gilmore accepts the Joe Webb Peoples Award at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of Connecticut.

On Nov. 18, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (E&ES) hosted the 8th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of Connecticut (GSC). The event featured a student scholarship wine-tasting fundraiser and a public science lecture called “The Real Jurassic Park in the Connecticut Valley,” by paleontologist Robbert Baker.

During the meeting, Phillip Resor, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, Martha “Marty” Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, were awarded the Joe Webb Peoples Award for their efforts in hosting the 2015 New England Intercollegiate Geologic Conference. The award recognizes those who have contributed to the understanding of the geology of Connecticut through scholarship, education and service.

Many other E&ES faculty were in attendance, including Dana Royer, Suzanne O’Connell, Johan Varekamp, Peter Patton and Timothy Ku. Additionally, several E&ES graduate students attended, including John Hossain, Melissa Luna, Shaun Mahmood, and alumni Bill Burton ’74, Nick McDonald MA ’75, and Peter LeTourneau MA ’85.

Angelson ’08 is Star of Amazon’s Newsroom Drama

Genevieve Angelson '08 by Ramona Rosales

Genevieve Angelson ’08 (Photo by Ramona Rosales)

Season one of Amazon’s period drama, Good Girls Revolt, premiered in October 2016 and the show’s star is Genevieve Angelson ’08.

Good Girls Revolt is based on the book by Lynn Povich P’03, and coincidentally stars another Wesleyan parent, Jim Belushi P’04. Povich is an award-winning journalist who wrote about her early career at Newsweek. She was one of 46 women who sued the magazine for sex discrimination in 1970. After the lawsuit, Newsweek agreed to provide equal employment opportunities to women, and Povich went on to become the first female senior editor in Newsweek’s history.

Angelson, who was a film studies major, attended Wesleyan with Povich’s daughter, Sarah Shephard ’03. She read the book when it was published, and she even knew a few of the women involved in the lawsuit. In what she describes as “completely serendipitous,” Angelson was given the script and an audition for a role in the series.

She described an intense attachment to the script and the story. “When I saw what it was based on, I wanted it so much,” she explained. “I thought if someone else gets [the part], it’s not going to mean as much to her.”

She recalled being so thankful to the production and writing teams for wanting to tell the story of the female employees who changed the workplace for women everywhere. During her audition, she said, “Cast me, or don’t cast me in this part. Cast the right person, whoever that is, but please take this pilot and make it into a series. I’m a part of a generation of women who need this kind of story to be told.”

Angelson indeed landed the part of Patti Robinson, a brilliant researcher who wants to be treated equally with the male journalists in the newsroom.

However, when Angelson first arrived at Wesleyan, she did not set out to be an actress. She chose Wesleyan for the liberal arts education she would receive and for the student body she would be a part of. Then, during her junior year, she worked at a production firm in Hollywood, an experience that helped her see the options she had to work in the film business if she didn’t pursue acting. She said, “I was good at it, but I wasn’t fulfilled in my soul. That’s when I made the decision to train to become an actress.”

After Wesleyan, Angelson went on to graduate from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts master’s program. From there, she landed television roles on series such as Fox’s Backstrom, where she played the lead role of Detective Sergeant Nicole Gravely, and Showtime’s House of Lies, where she played the role of Caitlyn Hobart.

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Play by Greenidge ’96 Explores Pressures of Today’s Teens

Milk Like Sugar by Ryan Maxwell

Milk Like Sugar. (Photo by Ryan Maxwell)

On Nov. 2, Milk Like Sugar, a new play by Kirsten Greenidge ’96, premiered at the Mosaic Theater Company in Washington, D.C. Broadway World calls it a “rousing story about young women coming of age in a time when issues of acceptance, mentorship, and materialism challenge the dreams and ambitious of so many teens.” This production is a D.C. premiere, for both the play and for the playwright. Greenidge has had extensive production history around the country, but had yet to premiere a production in D.C.

Greenidge, who majored in history at Wesleyan, was inspired to write the play “because I wanted to write about young people grappling with growing up without choices. Since the play was first produced at La Jolla Playhouse and Playwrights Horizons, it’s beginning to find a wider audience, and that’s wonderful.”

Milk Like Sugar, commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse and Theater Masters, in association with Playwrights Horizons and Women’s Project Productions, premiered in 2011, before transferring Off-Broadway to Peter Jay Sharp Theater later that year. In addition to the 2012 Obie Award for playwriting, Milk Like Sugar received the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and the 2011 San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel award for Outstanding New Play.

Greenidge, who focuses on placing underrepresented voices on stage, has many projects in the works, including commissions from CompanyOne, Yale Repertory Theater, Denver Center Theater, The Goodman, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, and Emerson Stage, where she and director Melia Bensussen will adapt the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Common Ground. Her latest work, How Soft the Lining, inspired by the lives of Mary Todd Lincoln and her freed black seamstress, Elizabeth Keckly, just premiered on Nov. 5 in Boston at the Boston Center for the Arts. The show will run until Nov. 20.

Tony Award-Winning Actor Wood ’83 Discusses Ties to Election

Photo via LCT.org

Frank Wood ’83

Frank Wood ’83, the Tony Award-winning actor who is currently starring in The Babylon Line at the Lincoln Center Theater, discussed his family’s ties to the election in an interview with the Lincoln Center Theater Blog.

In the interview, Wood noted he is the brother of Maggie Hassan, the current governor of New Hampshire and U.S. Senator-elect. His father, Robert Coldwell Wood, Wesleyan’s Andrus Professor of Government, Emeritus, had also taught at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and had served as the first under secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Johnson administration.

Through his father’s political connections, Wood met many interesting people. “I remember listening to all these people, but we were also encouraged to talk and, whether we knew it or not, develop our speaking skills,” he said.

Wood said that this training led to acting, which he pursued at Wesleyan as an undergraduate and later at New York University as a graduate student in theater.

Read the full article here.

Ishiguro Awarded Research Fellowship to Study Acehnese Dance

Maho Ishiguro MA'12, and doctoral student, was awarded the Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship. Contributed photo.

PhD candidate Maho Ishiguro MA’12 was awarded the Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship.

Ethnomusicology PhD candidate Maho Ishiguro MA ’12 was honored at the 2016 Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting with the Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship for her research titled “Seudati and the Social Contestation of Female Dance in Aceh, Indonesia.”

The award is given to help support research on a dance-related subject and its subsequent publication, and consists of a $4,000 research fellowship and $1,000 award for publication.

“This fellowship will allow me to continue doing my research on the topics of Acehnese dance and music forms, women’s practice of performing arts, and changing socioreligious climate in the post-tsunami Aceh, from 2004 to today,” she said.

Ishiguro, who spent 15 months in Indonesia on a Fullbright-Hays Fellowship studying Acehnese performing arts, will now take a deeper look into the seudati dance form.

“In my research, I plan to look more closely into seudati as a case study to examine the issues of female and male aesthetics expressed through movements in Acehnese dance and how choreographers navigate through social expectations and Islamic regulations today when they create movements,” she said.

Chemistry, Physics Students Attend Biomedical Research Conference

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From Nov. 9-12, two faculty members and five students from the physics and chemistry departments, attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Tampa, Fla.

Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics, and Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, were joined by McNair Scholars Luz Mendez ’17, Tatianna Pryce ’17, Stacy Uchendu ’17 and Hanna Morales ’17; and Wesleyan Mathematics and Science (WesMaSS) Scholar Helen Karimi ’19.

Students observed other research being performed around the nation by students who are members of underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In addition, the Wesleyan students presented their own research and Morales and Karimi were awarded Outstanding Poster Presentation Awards.

“Through the PIE Initiative, Wesleyan has a deliberate strategy to support underrepresented students and faculty in STEM fields by providing resources that increasing post-Wesleyan mentorship and exposure to research excellence, all of which were fulfilled through this conference,” said Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer. “It cannot go without saying that without Professor Taylor’s and Professor Etson’s holistic mentorship approach, these type of opportunities for our young scholars would not be possible.”

Sumarsam Performs Shadow Puppet Play at Islamic Intersections Festival

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music

On Nov. 9, Sumarsam, professor of music and puppeteer, performed his shadow-puppet play, Bima’s Quest for Enlightenment, at the Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections festival, presented by the Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art and George Washington University. This music, dance, and theater festival celebrates the many manifestations of Islamic culture in the island nation, which is home to more Muslims than any other country.

During the festival, Sumarsam performed a condensed version of an all-night wayang puppet play, featuring only the main episodes of the story. Wayang is the Javanese word for shadow, or bayang in standard Indonesian. More than 200 people attended.

Additionally, Sumarsam and his students led a panel discussion “Intercultural and Interreligious Encounters in Indonesian Performing Arts.”

On Dec 2., Sumarsam and the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble will present a Javanese wayang puppet play in the World Music Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.

Sumarsam’s research on history, theory, and performance practice of gamelan and wayang, and on Indonesia-Western encounter theme has resulted in the publication of numerous articles and two books. His recent research focuses have been on the intersections between religion and performing arts.

Graduate Student Khan Gives Sarangi Demonstration at UCLA

Suhail Yusuf Khan by Shiv Ahuja

Suhail Yusuf Khan (Photo by Shiv Ahuja)

Graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan recently gave a lecture and demonstration at the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Khan’s lecture focused on the sarangi and its use in popular music contexts.

Khan was invited to UCLA to lecture to a global pop music class.

“The idea was to show students some of my experimental and pop music,” Khan said.

During his demonstration, Khan spoke about the the sarangi’s role in Hindustani music and the relationship to the voice. He also showed different playing techniques, and shared his own musical story, including the challenges he faces as a classically trained musician navigating the global popular music industry.

Khan, from New Delhi, India, is working towards his master’s degree in music. He also is a composer, singer and songwriter. After graduating from Wesleyan, he is considering applying to PhD programs in ethnomusicology or will continue to perform around the world.