Tag Archive for alumni

Yamashita ’71 photography exhibition in Beijing: ‘Return to the Tea-Horse Road’

An exhibition by aclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 will be held in Beijing, starting Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

An exhibition by acclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 will be held in Beijing, starting Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

Return to the Tea-Horse Road, an exhibition by acclaimed National Geographic Magazine photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 will be featured in the Sony U Space, in 798, the art gallery area in Beijing, from December 9 through 11, 2016.

Drawn from a series of photographs created for a 2010 National Geographic article, “Tea Horse Road,” Yamashita traces the legendary trail of grand vistas, where both Chinese tea and Tibetan horses were traded. His photographs offer cultural highlights rendered with intimacy—equestrian festivals revealing pageantry and brightly-colored flags, travelers sipping tea by yak-butter candlelight, men squatting to gather worms for herbal healers—as well vast landscapes of distant mountains traced with switchback trails and breathtaking majesty.

The exhibition highlights and features large-scale prints of his work, some two-by-three meters in size. Multiple Sony 4K television monitors will play a 200-picture slide show.

Additionally, Yamashita will be on hand for portions of all three days. He’ll be at a reception on Friday, Dec. 9, signing books from 1 to 6 pm, and on Saturday afternoon he will offer a slide show. Admission is free, Yamashita notes and adds, “Hope to see many Wesleyan alumni.”


Alumni, Guests Attend “Hamilton on the Road: Chicago”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wesleyanuniversity/albums/72157676885279856/with/30829478690/More than 100 members of the Wesleyan community attended “Hamilton on the Road: Chicago” Nov. 22 at the PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago.

The event included a pre-show reception hosted by alumnus David ’78 and Mimi Olson and a first run performance of Hamilton, the Tony-award winning musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99.

Photos from the event appear in this Wesleyan Flickr album.

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. 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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Composer/Drummer Sorey MA ’11 is “The Maestro”

Drummer and composer Tyshawn Sorey MA’11 is the subject of an article in JazzTimes by David Adler. Sorey will return to Wesleyan as an assistant professor of music in the fall semester of 2017. (Photo by John Rogers.)

Drummer and composer Tyshawn Sorey MA’11 is the subject of an article in JazzTimes by David Adler, who calls him “multifaceted and restlessly evolving.” Sorey will return to Wesleyan as an assistant professor of music in the fall semester of 2017. (Photo by John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11 is the subject of a Nov. 26 article published in JazzTimes titled “Tyshawn Sorey: The Maestro.”

“It’s something to see,” writes David Adler for JazzTimes. “A fired-up young sideman blossoms into one of the most multifaceted and restlessly evolving artists of our time at age 36. It’s hard to tally just the most recent accomplishments.”

His accomplishments include premiering a work—Sorey on piano and drums—at the Ojai Festival in California that had been commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) at the Ojai Festival in California last February—and another ICE commission is upcoming. His Alloy trio (pianist Cory Smythe and bassist Christopher Tordini) not only played a weeklong gig at the Village Vanguard, but has a work commissioned by the Newport Jazz Festival, which Sorey will release soon, containing material from his stint at the Vanguard.

Williams ’89: “Bridge Broadly and Creatively”—Interview in The Progressive

Dar Williams ’89 is touring on her Image by Tristan Loper

Dar Williams ’89 is on her Mortal City 20th Anniversary Tour and also writing a book on eight cities she has visited frequently, including Middletown, Conn. (Image by Tristan Loper)

“A featured performer at the The Progressive’s 100th anniversary party in 2009, [Dar] Williams [’89] has always identified with progressive causes,” writes Bill Luedes, associate editor of The Progressive magazine, by way of background to his Q&A with Williams that follows. “She toured with Joan Baez early in her career and has embraced feminist, anti-war, and pro-environment positions.  She’s taught a class titled ‘Music Movements in a Capitalist Democracy’ at her alma mater, Wesleyan University. A mother of two children, she has written a novel for young adults, Amalee, and is working on a sequel.”

In the interview, Luedes explores the reasons for the sense of community found among audience members at Williams’s concerts, as well as the meaning behind certain song lyrics to tease out her reaction to the recent political climate. When he asks her to recommend community action for individuals, Williams is first descriptive before prescriptive: “My particular expertise these days as a traveler is that I’ve watched towns and cities evolve and become very resilient, and fun, and unique, and prosperous on their own terms. And the secret is bridging. It’s when the local church has a fun clothing swap fundraiser with a temple, and then the next year they bring in the mosque. It’s one group working with the senior center, which works with the elementary school, which works with the Lion’s Club. … I would encourage people to bridge broadly and creatively in their communities, not just because that creates the most fun and resiliency, but also because it creates the most points of access for people to be part of the community, which is what democracy is at its best.”


Jazz Guitarist Halvorson ’02 Is “Unflinching and Full of Grace”

Credit Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times

Mary Halvonson ’02 has released her eight album, Away With You, reviewed in the New York Times by Nate Chinen. (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times)

“There’s no other sound in music precisely like Mary Halvorson’s guitar, which she plays with a flinty attack, a spidery finesse and a shiver of wobbly delay,” writes New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen in a review of her recent shows around Brooklyn in October. She also released her eighth album, Away With Youon Oct.28.

The album is produced by Firehouse 12, a production studio co-founded by fellow jazz musician Taylor Ho Bynum ’98 MA ’05, which has released his work, as well as the music of Halvorson’s and Bynum’s Wesleyan professor and mentor Anthony Braxton, whom Chinen calls “a formative influence as a musical thinker” for Halvorson. Chinen also notes another mentor Halvorson found in Connecticut: acclaimed free-jazz guitarist Joe Morris, “a staunch experimentalist,” with whom Halvorson took private lessons. (Morris is spouse of Anne Marcotty, senior designer in Wesleyan’s Office of Communications.)

Calling her new CD “the most accomplished statement Ms. Halvorson has made as a composer, her strongest turn as bandleader and a standout jazz release of the year,” Chinen notes that she is part of a “vibrant cohort,” and performs on cornetist Bynum’s most recent album, Enter the PlusTet, among other musical collaborations.

The article is both review and interview and part of Times‘ The New Vanguard series, which “examine[s] jazz musicians who are helping reshape the art form, often beyond the glare of the spotlight.” Concluding the interview, Chinen asks Halvorson “whether she had noticed her sound among any imitators …’Actually no, I don’t think so. I can’t think of a time when I heard someone and thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like what I’m doing.’ After a pause, she added: ‘Maybe that will happen. I don’t know.'”

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.

Weiss ’83 Shares Her Faith With Sick and Shut-ins

Cheri Weiss '83, a cantorial intern at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla, looks through scripture found on the glass walls of the synagogue. She has recorded a CD of High Holy Days prayers and songs that she's distributing free to shut-ins. (Photo by Nancee E. Lewis)

Cheri Weiss ’83, a cantorial intern at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla, looks through scripture found on the glass walls of the synagogue. She has recorded a CD of High Holy Days prayers and songs that she’s distributing free to shut-ins. (Photo by Nancee E. Lewis)

Cheri Weiss ’83 was recently featured in an article titled “Cantor-in training brings the spirit to Jewish shut-in,” published in the San Diego Union Tribune. Highlighting her work within the Jewish community, the article follows Weiss’ journey to bring the prayers and songs sung during High Holy Days to sick and shut-ins not able to attend services.

A project stemming from a tragedy in her own personal life, Weiss started this project as a gift to her father-in-law who, at the time, was in hospice care and not strong enough to attend High Holy Days services. His wish was to hear her sing the “Kol Nidre,” the central prayer of Yom Kippur, so she mailed him a CD of her singing sacred songs and prayers. About three weeks later he passed. But in that moment of grief she “started thinking about how many other people must be in his situation— stuck at home because they are disabled or too sick,” she states in the Tribune article. She is now the co-producer of an album titled, “HINENI: Music for the High Holy Days,” which includes songs and prayers from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that she gave away to more than 1,000 rabbis and other faith leaders, as well as hospital chaplains, and retirement and nursing homes this year.

Weiss plans to expand the project in the coming years. With a goal of delivering and sharing 10,000 CDs next year, she no longer wants to “leave the sick and shut-in forgotten and in the shadows.”

Vidich ’72 Celebrated in Poets and Writers as First-Time Author

Paul Vidich ’72 is first-time author of the noir spy-thriller "An Honorable Man," garnering rave reviews.

Paul Vidich ’72 is first-time author of the noir spy-thriller An Honorable Man, garnering rave reviews.

The article in Poets and Writers begins, “From the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 program to the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, many organizations make a point of recognizing young, gifted authors at the start of their literary careers. In the November/December 2016 issue of Poets & Writers magazine, we feature five debut authors over the age of 50 … whose first books came out this past year, and who stand as living proof that it’s never too late to start your literary journey.”

Highlighted here was Paul Vidich ’72, whose first book, “An Honorable Man” was published in April 2016 by Atria/Emily Bestler, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Kirkus Review called it “A moody debut spy novel inspired by real events…Dead-on Cold War fiction. Noir to the bone,” and Publisher’s Weekly listed it as one of their “top ten mysteries and thrillers of spring 2016.”

The novel is set in 1953, in the midsts of McCarthyism, and with the Cold War underway. Vidich’s hero, George Mueller, is assigned to help the CIA find the double agent in its midst who is selling secrets to the Soviets. Read the excerpt published in Poets and Writers here.

Prior to this novel, Vidich has written both fiction and nonfiction pieces that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Fugue, The Nation, Narrative Magazine, and elsewhere. His story, “Falling Girl,” was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize and appeared in New Rivers Press’s American Fiction, Volume 12: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers.

A College of Social Studies major at Wesleyan, Vidich previously served as executive vice president in charge of global digital strategy at Time Warner’s Warner Music Group. A past member of the National Academies committee on The Impact of Copyright Policy on Innovation in the Digital Era, he testified in Washington before rate hearings.

Vidich is currently a venture investor and serves as an advisor to Internet media companies in video and music. He is on the boards of directors of Poets and Writers, The New School for Social Research, and the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation. A former trustee of Wesleyan, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award and is a graduate of The Wharton School.

Baltzell ’87 Named President-Elect of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology

Photo by Vernon Doucette

Amy Baltzell ’87 (Photo by Vernon Doucette)

Amy Baltzell ’87, of Boston, Mass., has been named President-Elect of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), an international professional organization that promotes the field of sport and exercise psychology. She assumed the role at the 2016 annual conference in Phoenix, Ariz., where members from around the world convened to network and share the latest presentations and research in the field. Baltzell has been a member of the AASP for 12 years.

Baltzell is a clinical associate professor and director of Sport Psychology Specialization (of Counseling) at Boston University, with research focuses on mindfulness and compassion in sports. She also is the author of Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life and editor of Mindfulness and Performance with Cambridge University Press. Outside of academia, she is a former U.S. National and Olympic Rowing Team member, member of the All Women’s American Cup Sailing Team, and was head varsity lightweight rowing coach at Harvard University, where she taught the first course in sport psychology.

She earned her master’s and doctorate degree from Boston University.

Horwitz ’02 Documents Hamilton for PBS

hamilton1On Saturday, Oct. 29, members of the Wesleyan community gathered at the Goldsmith Family Cinema during Family Weekend 2016 to watch a screening of Hamilton’s America, directed by Alex Horwitz ’02. While Horwitz was not able to attend the screening, we were able to catch up with him for an exclusive Q&A. If you missed the screening, Hamilton’s America is streaming on PBS through Nov. 18.

Hamilton’s America was several years in the making. When did you approach Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99 with the idea to document the making of what became Hamilton: An American Musical—and what prompted you to do so?
I approached Lin and Tommy about rolling cameras on Hamilton in 2012, and we were rolling by 2013. Really, all I needed to hear was a demo of that first song, “Alexander Hamilton,” and my interest was piqued. I’m a history nerd and a musical theater nerd, so Lin was scratching a lot of itches for me. I told him that it didn’t matter to me if he was making an album or a show; I just wanted to make a movie about him dramatizing history. That was the angle from the beginning.

What kind of access did you have to Hamilton: An American Musical when filming the documentary? What was most interesting or surprising to you about the process?
The focus of Hamilton’s America was always going to be on history-as-told-by-the-show, rather than on the behind-the-scenes aspect of show business. That meant that we would lean on the words—on the writing process and the finished product—rather than on backstage access. I invaded Lin’s space as he wrote, but only because he was open to it. The only thing I bothered the cast for was interviews and the field trips to sites of historic significance. We did film a little backstage material, but the drama of history was always of more interest to me than the “five, six, seven, eight . . .” of rehearsals. What delighted me was how deep the cast wanted to get into the history. I think they were happy to get out of the theater.