Tag Archive for ethnomusicology

Sumarsam, Alumni Participate in Indonesian Performance Conference

Ethnomusicologist Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, participated in a festival and conference on Indonesian performing arts at the Smithsonian Institution Oct. 31-Nov. 3. Sumarsam and Andy McGraw Ph.D. ’06 helped organize the conference, “Performing Indonesia: Conference, Music, Dance, and Drama” with support from the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Sumarsam delivered the conference’s keynote address on “Traditional Performing Arts of Indonesia in a Globalizing World” on Nov. 2. He discussed Javanese musical and cultural interactions with the rest of the world, focusing on current trends in and the changing role of classical and contemporary gamelan music and other genres in Indonesia and around the globe.

In addition, six Wesleyan alumni delivered paper presentations or chaired sessions at the event.

During the opening ceremony of the festival on Oct. 31, Sumarsam and  Andy McGraw Ph.D. '06 received a "Certificate of Appreciation" for their role in strengthening the ties of friendship between Indonesia and the U.S. The event was attended by the Indonesian Ambassador, the Smithsonian museum director, the Sultan of Yogyakarta, the Director General of Indonesian, Cultural Attache of Indonesia, and many others.

During the opening ceremony of the festival on Oct. 31, Sumarsam and Andy McGraw Ph.D. ’06 received a “Certificate of Appreciation” for their role in strengthening the ties of friendship between Indonesia and the U.S. The event was attended by the Indonesian Ambassador, the Smithsonian museum director, the Sultan of Yogyakarta, the Director General of Indonesian, Cultural Attache of Indonesia, and many others.

On Nov. 3, Sumarsam, Artist-in-Residence I.M. Harjito and members of the Wesleyan Gamelan participated in a "jam session" with gamelan teachers at the California Institute of the Arts, University of Michigan, U.C. Berkeley and other American gamelan teachers/musicians.

On Nov. 3, Sumarsam, Artist-in-Residence I.M. Harjito and members of the Wesleyan Gamelan participated in a “jam session” with gamelan teachers at the California Institute of the Arts, University of Michigan, U.C. Berkeley and other American gamelan teachers/musicians.

 

Culture of India Celebrated at Annual Navaratri Festival

The Center for the Arts presented the 37th annual Navaratri Festival, celebrating the traditional culture of India with performances by some of the country’s leading artists on Oct. 10-13. One of India’s major festival celebrations, Navaratri is a time to see family and friends, enjoy music and dance, and seek blessings for new endeavors.

“For us Indian musicians traveling all over the world and especially in the U.S., this campus has been a place of great respect and wonder because of its ability to sustain this program for over 30 years,” said tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, who also performed during the 2010 festival. “It is a privilege and a blessing to be a part of this incredible environment.”

The 37th annual Navaratri Festival was supported by the Music Department, the Center for the Arts, the Jon B. Higgins Memorial Fund, the Madhu Reddy Endowed Fund for Indian Music and Dance at Wesleyan University, the Raga Club of Connecticut, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Middlesex Community College, Haveli Indian Restaurant and individual patrons.

On Oct. 11, vocalist B. Balasubrahmaniyan, adjunct assistant professor of music, performed "Vocal Music of South India" as part of the festival.

On Oct. 11, vocalist B. Balasubrahmaniyan, adjunct assistant professor of music, performed “Vocal Music of South India” as part of the festival.

Balasubrahmaniyan was joined by David Nelson, adjunct assistant professor of music on mridangam and violinist L. Ramakrishnan and Sriram Ramesh on kanjira.

Balasubrahmaniyan was joined by David Nelson, adjunct assistant professor of music on mridangam and violinist L. Ramakrishnan and Sriram Ramesh on kanjira.

Sumarsam’s Book on Javanese Performing Arts Published

New Book by Sumarsam.

New book by Sumarsam.

Sumarsam, the University Professor of Music, is the author of Javanese Gamelan and the West, published by the University of Rochester Press on July 1.

In Javanese Gamelan, Sumarsam examines the meaning, forms and traditions of the Javanese performing arts as they developed and changed through their contact with Western culture. The book traces the adaptations in gamelan art as a result of Western colonialism in 19th century Java, showing how Western musical and dramatic practices were domesticated by Javanese performers creating hybrid Javanese-Western art forms, such as with the introduction of brass bands in gendhing mares court music and West Javanese tanjidor, and Western theatrical idioms in contemporary wayang puppet plays.

The book also examines the presentation of Javanese gamelan to the West, detailing performances in World’s Fairs and American academia and considering its influence on Western performing arts and musical and performance studies. The end result is a comprehensive treatment of the formation of modern Javanese gamelan and a fascinating look at how an art form dramatizes changes and developments in a culture.

As a gamelan musician and a keen amateur dhalang/ (puppeteer) of Javanese wayang puppet play, Sumarsam performs, conducts workshops, and lectures throughout the U.S., Australia, Europe and Asia.

Arévalo Mateus Ph.D ’12 Completes Audio-Preservation Project on Dominican Music

Jorge Arévalo Mateus Ph.D. '12

Jorge Arévalo Mateus Ph.D. ’12

An audio-archive project managed by Jorge Arévalo Mateus Ph.D. ’12 will be available to the general public in the United States and the Dominican Republic in 2013. The project, “The Sacred and Festive Music of the Liboristas Communities of the Dominican Southwest,” contains 32 hours of field recordings gathered between 2001 and 2004.

With support from the GRAMMY Foundation® in the category “Preservation and Archive,” Arévalo Mateus digitally preserved music audio recordings captured in rural areas of the Dominican Republic preserving more than 20 genres. The result is the first archive documenting the different genres of music played at Liboristas communities including sacred and festive accordion genres; a percussion genre; an a capella religious genre; and others.

The archive also includes interviews about the religious continuity of the two Liboristas movements, one started in 1908 by Liborio Mateo, and the other in 1961 by Leon and Romilio Ventura. The interviews include personal histories of religious leaders and missionaries from the last 50 years, the birth of a new leader missionary, the birth of a new musician in one of the communities, and the tracking of the celebrations calendar during the years.

“The archive will have an impact for the Dominican ethnomusicology, popular religion, oral traditions and historical studies,” Arévalo Mateus said.

On Dec. 13, 2012, Arévalo Mateus completed his ethnomusicology Ph.D. dissertation on “Somos Colombianos en Nueva York/We are Colombians in New York City, An Ethnography of a Colombian Musicians Community, 1995-2010.” He will attend the Wesleyan Commencement Ceremony in May 2013.

Sumarsam, Lane Attend World Puppetry Festival in China

Sumarsam speaks at the World Puppetry Festival in June.

As part of his summer study trip, University Professor of Music Sumarsam attended and presented a paper at the “Congress and World Puppetry Festival” in Chengdu, China. Music Librarian Alec McLane also attended the Festival. Sponsored by Union Internationale de la Marionnete (UNIMA), the festival staged puppet shows from all over the world, and hold seminar and organizational meeting.

Sumarsam presented a paper on “Electric Light Bulb in Contemporary Javanese Shadow Puppet Play,” in a panel on puppetry and technology. The panel included paper presentation by Jim Henson’ daughter, Cheryl Henson—the President of The Jim Henson Foundation. She talked about his father’s work, including the creation of Sesame Street and Muppet Show, and introduced his father’s films: “The Dark Crystal” and “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.” Sumarsam also visited his home country, Indonesia, and then presented a paper at the 2nd conference of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM/PSEA) in Manila. His paper is titled “Islamic Perspectives on Javanese Music and Theater: Wayang Dakwah.”

Music Department, Local Musicians Create Film to Benefit Japan Relief

To help the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan, Wesleyan graduate students Maho Ishiguro, Akiko Hakateyama, Ellen Loeck and Shoko Yamamoto arranged a benefit concert titled “Voices United.” Students and faculty from Wesleyan’s music department, and resident performers from the Middletown area, assembled at Crowell Concert Hall for an afternoon of music and dance performances.

The concert was filmed and will be available on DVD this month.

Eleven performances, which included different genres of music from 10 countries, were featured. Participating ensembles and musicians included Chinese Ensemble, Balinese Gender Ensemble, Carnatic Music Ensemble (Indian vocals), The Mixolydians (vocal ensemble singing Rennaisance madrigals), Slavei (vocal ensemble singing folk music from Eastern Europe), Collegium Musicum (vocal ensemble singing music from Medieval and Rennaisance periods), Kaze Taiko Ensemble, Ceol go Maidin (Irish traditional music), Green Street’s Fresh Obsessed (Breakdancing group), Andrew Colwell Mongolian Homii (Mongolian throat singer), and House of Moses (R&B music).

To order a copy of the DVD, send $15 to Jody Cormack, World Music Archives, Olin Library 252 Church Street, Middletown, CT 06459. Make checks out to The Japan Society New York, and write “Japan Earthquake Fund” in the memo. All proceeds go to the Japan Society where donations will be divided and sent to a number of relief agencies.

Mateus Awarded GRAMMY Foundation Award for Preservation Consulting

Jorge Arévalo Mateus, a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, received a grant award from the GRAMMY Foundation. Mateus was selected to be an archives and preservation consultant at the Liborio Mateo’s Calvary in the Dominican Republic.

He will oversee unique recordings of primary source of the musical, celebratory, religious and domestic events at the Calvary. These rare recordings comprises sacred and festive music, rituals, liturgies, interviews and daily life at this important pilgrimage center. These field recordings took place from 2000 to 2006 through close work with Reyna Jimenez. Reyna was keeper of the Calvary for forty years, until her death in 2008.

Sumarsam one of 50 “Successful Indonesians”

Sumarsam

Sumarsam, the University Professor of Music, was named one of the 50 “successful” Indonesians in the United States by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in 2012.

In collaboration with the Indonesian Consulate General in the U.S., the Embassy is publishing a book titled Secret of My Success: 50 Prominent Indonesian[s] Share Their Lessons on Life and Remarkable Career[s]. Sumarsam will contribute a 3,000 word essay for the publication. The goal of the book is to inspire Indonesian communities in the U.S.

At Wesleyan, Sumarsam teaches Indonesia music and theater, focusing on the performance, history and theory of gamelan and wayang. He studies Islam in Indonesian performing arts. Sumarsam is a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Society for Asian Music, the International Council for Traditional Music and the Association for Asian Studies.

5 Questions With . . . Eric Charry on Ethnomusicology, Culture

Eric Charry, associate professor of music, is the project director of the Ethnomusicology and Global Culture Summer Institute. (Photo by Bill Tyner '13)

This issue we ask “5 Questions” of Eric Charry, associate professor of music. Charry, an expert on African music, is currently directing the Ethnomusicology and Global Culture Summer Institute at Wesleyan.

Q: Professor Charry, as an associate professor of music, what are your areas of musical expertise and what classes do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: Most of my research and writing until recently has been in the area of African music, specifically, the West African region where Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea and Mali meet. I spent two years in the region learning to play the kora (harp), balafon (xylophone), and jembe (drum). My office is filled with these instruments and I occasionally use them for an ensemble course (Mande Music Ensemble). More recently I have picked up on earlier musical interests and am working an a book on the emergence of an avant garde in jazz in the 1950s and 60s as well as a related book on music in downtown New York during these two decades. I teach an FYI on the latter topic and our field trip walking around New York is always a highlight for everyone. I see a lot of Wesleyan students passing through my large History of Rock and R&B course, and I’m working on a text that I can use in the class, something like a concise history, that will address my needs, without the gratuitous filler chatter. Many of my most interesting musical experiences have come out of hearing student projects in that class. The diversity and depth of creative work cuts across campus in really fascinating, and often hilarious (to us all) ways. The projects are open to the public. Next spring I’ll be teaching a seminar on global hip hop.

Q: You’re the project director of the Ethnomusicology and Global Culture Summer Institute, which is ongoing at Wesleyan through July 1. (View photos of the institute here.) Who sponsors the event, and what are some of the topics addressed throughout the two weeks?

A: Several years the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) wanted to make a push on several fronts to raise the profile of our field. They put out a call for proposals to host a summer institute. Several of us in the Music Department responded and they selected us, in part due to our successful hosting of the annual SEM meeting at Wesleyan in 2008 (over 1000 members attended). SEM and Wesleyan’s Music Department made a joint proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities and we were fully funded to invite 22 college and university teachers and 3 graduate students here for two week to study recent developments in ethnomusicology with an eye toward enhancing teaching in the humanities. The participants (they’re properly called NEH Summer Scholars) receive a stipend, which is providing a small stimulus to our Main St. restaurants! They are all staying at 200 Church St., and seem to have blended in with local frat culture, although perhaps slightly tamer. The overriding theme of global culture allows us to address a broad spectrum of musics from around the world. We’re especially interested in musics that have moved in one way or another across the globe. Full details about the event, including biographies, are on our web site.

Q: Who teaches the summer institute?

A: The core faculty members are myself, Mark Slobin and Su Zheng. Mark Slobin is the Richard K. Winslow Professor of Music, and is one of the most prolific and respected scholars in our field. He is a past president of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for Asian Music, past editor of Asian Music journal and past Chair of the Music Department. Su Zheng is an associate professor of music

7 Wesleyan Students Receive Fulbright Fellowships

A Ph.D candidate and six recent graduates received Fulbright Fellowships for the 2011-12 academic year.

Aaron Paige, a Ph.D. student in ethnomusicology, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to support his dissertation fieldwork in Malaysia, as well as a research grant from the Society for Asian Music to support research in Chennai, India. The dissertation project, “From Kuala Lumpur to Kollywood: Music, Language, and Identity in Tamil Solisai,” involves multi-sited ethnography and will trace the various meanings of Tamil hip-hop as it travels within and between local, national, and transnational spaces. Paige’s work will take him to Chennai in the summer and fall and to Malaysia for an extended visit starting in late 2011.

William Krieger ’11 received a Fulbright Fellowship for one year’s study and research in Germany.

Benjamin LaFirst ’11, Alaina Aristide ’11, Kaitlin Martin ’11, Alessandra Stachowski ’11 and Alison Cies ’11 received Fulbright English-Teaching Assistantships. LaFirst will teach in Austria; Aristide will teach in Argentina; Martin will teach in Russia; and Stachowski will teach in Brazil. Cies declined her assistantship to teach in South Korea.

Teaching assistantships in Argentina and Brazil are highly competitive, with 7:1 odds for Argentina and 10:1 for Brazil.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

It was established in 1946 by the U.S. Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

Graduate Student Wins Grant for Work on Televised Puppetry

Po-wei Weng, a Ph.D. candidate in Wesleyan’s ethnomusicology program, has won a $15,000 grant to support his dissertation work on a popular Taiwanese Puppet television series. Competing with applicants from all disciplines and many top colleges in the United States, Weng was this year the only person from the music studies field to win an award from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. His dissertation project is “Music, Technology, and Mediated Modernity: Soundscape of Pili Budaixi in Taiwan.” Currently in Taiwan, Weng returns to Middletown in August.