Tag Archive for Music Department

Sorey Is ‘Obliterating the Lines,’ According to New York Times Profile

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo by John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, assistant professor of music, is called a “preternaturally talented multi-instrumentalist who has built a career in the territory between standard definitions” in an extensive profile in The New York Times.

“In some circles, he’s thought of as a jazz drummer; in others, he fits in more as an avant-garde composer,” the article says of Sorey, who is about to release his sixth album, “Versimilitude.”

The article discusses Sorey’s background, from his modest upbringing in Newark—where his public schools offered little in the way of arts education and his father “helped foster his affinity for music”—to his study of jazz drumming at William Paterson University.

The New Yorker Profiles New Wes Faculty Member Sorey MA ’11

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11 will join the Wesleyan faculty this fall. (Photo by John Rogers)

“Tyshawn Sorey Defeats Preconceptions,” proclaims the The New Yorker headline on a profile of Wesleyan’s newest assistant professor of music, Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, who will join the Wesleyan faculty this fall. “The prodigious multi-instrumentalist and composer transcends the borders of jazz, classical, and experimental music.”

Grad Student Khan to Perform with Berklee Indian Ensemble

Suhail Yusuf Khan

Suhail Yusuf Khan

Music graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan will be a featured guest artist at the Berklee Indian Ensemble on May 9. In addition, he will conduct a master class on Hindustani music and the sarangi, one of the oldest string instruments featured in North Indian classical music. The sarangi is the only instrument in the world that can emulate all the nuances of the human voice. Played with a bow, this instrument has three main strings and 37 sympathetic strings.

Khan started to play the instrument when he was 7 years old. The grandson of the sarangi legend Ustad Sabri Khan, and nephew of sarangi genius Ustad Kamal Sabri, his professional career took off at age 11 when he played his first live concert in Liverpool, England. Khan is the first of his family to fuse ancient classical music from India with genres as varied as jazz, rock, electronic and Irish music. In 2014, he was named a Forbes India “30 Under 30.”

He also is a composer, singer and songwriter. After graduating from Wesleyan, Khan is considering applying to PhD programs in ethnomusicology or will continue to perform around the world.

Slobin Elected Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Mark Slobin

Mark Slobin

On April 12, ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Emeritus, was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is one of 228 national and international scholars, artists and philanthropic leaders who joined the 237th class.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing—and opportunities available to—the nation and the world. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies in science, engineering, and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts, and education; and American institutions and the public good.

Slobin, who retired from Wesleyan in June 2016, is an expert on East European Jewish music and klezmer music, as well as the music of Afghanistan. Slobin’s career started at Wesleyan in July 1971. He has been president of the Society for Ethnomusicology, president of the Society for Asian Music, and editor of Asian Music. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Seeger Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award (for lifetime achievement) from the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Curt Leviant Award In Yiddish Studies from the Modern Languages Association (honorable mention). He was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Chosen Voices (1989).

Slobin joins philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend; award-winning actress Carol Burnett; chairman of the board of Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns; mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani; immunologist James Allison; and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the 2017 American Academy of Arts and Sciences class. Other recipients are Pulitzer Prize winners; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award winners.

“In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American Academy is also a call to service,” said Academy President Jonathan F. Fanton. “Through our projects, publications, and events, the Academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the Academy’s 1780 charter calls.”

Slobin will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 7 in Cambridge, Mass.

Sumarsam Attends World Class Professors Program in Indonesia

Sumarsam, pictured third from left in the top row, joined 40 scholars for the "Visiting World Class Professors" conference in December.

Sumarsam, pictured third from left in the top row, joined 40 scholars for the “Visiting World Class Professors” program in December.

From Dec. 17-24, 2016, University Professor of Music Sumarsam and other 40 diasporic Indonesian scholars were invited by the Indonesian Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education (Ristekdikti) to participate in a program called “Visiting World Class Professor.” The program aims at enhancing human resources of higher education in Indonesia through various scholarly activities.

After the opening of the program by the Vice President Yusuf Kalla, the Minister of Ristekdikti and its Director General of Resources, the first day of the program consisted of seminars and workshops in Jakarta, attended by university rectors and academics. Each of the scholars were then sent to one or two of the 29 universities throughout Indonesian cities, holding a series of workshops, lectures and discussion with members of the faculty of the selected university.

Sumarsam was sent to the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Surakarta (his alma mater).

Watch video clips (in Indonesian) of the event’s opening and news of the program online.

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.

Wesleyan’s Navaratri Festival Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Navaratri, one of India’s major festival celebrations, is a time to see family and friends, enjoy music and dance, and seek blessings for new endeavors. Wesleyan’s 40th annual festival, held Oct. 28-Oct. 30, celebrated traditional Indian music and dance.

The Navaratri Festival is presented by the Center for the Arts and the Music Department, with leadership support from the Madhu Reddy Endowed Fund for Indian Music and Dance at Wesleyan University, and additional support from the Jon B. Higgins Memorial Fund, the Raga Club of Connecticut, Haveli Indian Restaurant, and individual patrons.

Pictured is the Navaratri Festival: B. Balasubrahmaniyan performance, Oct. 28 at Crowell Concert Hall: (Photos by Sandy Aldieri)

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Slobin Donates Afghani Instruments to The Met

Mark Slobin, professor of music, professor of American studies, emeritus, recently donated his collection of Afghani musical instruments to The Met museum.

From 1967 to 1972, Slobin traveled to Afghanistan to complete dissertation fieldwork on local folk music of the northern region. Along the way he collected, what are now, extremely rare instruments including, polished river stones, sometimes used as castanets; end-blown shepherds’ flutes; two large fretted lutes known as dutar; both Uzbek and Tajik damburas; and a plethora of other instruments.

His time in Afghanistan was marked by many memorable encounters, such as the “rare, hidden tradition of pre-Islamic shamanism, in which the healer went into a trance, summoning and voicing spirits with the qobuz, a fiddle related to Kazakh and Kyrygyz shamanism.”

Slobin’s full journey with multimedia documentation can be found on the Wesleyan Website and The Met’s blog summarizing the donation is online here.

slobininstruments

Master Drummer Adzenyah Celebrated at Ceremony, Hall Dedication

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, at right, congratulates Abraham Adzenyah for teaching at Wesleyan 46 years and for the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). A ribbon cutting ceremony took place May 7.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, at right, congratulates Abraham Adzenyah for teaching at Wesleyan 46 years and for the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). A ribbon cutting ceremony took place May 7.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, was honored with a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students (View photo set here). Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

Abraham Adzenyah speaks to the audience.

Abraham Adzenyah speaks to the audience.

During the event, Adzenyah was honored with the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). This is the first time that a leading U.S. university has named a building after a traditional African musician. In addition, grateful students, alumni and friends have raised more than $225,000 to establish the Abraham Adzenyah Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship.

Sumarsam Named Fellow in the American Council of Learned Societies

Sumarsam

Sumarsam

Professor of Music Sumarsam was named as a fellow in the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) 2015-2016 fellowship competition. He was chosen as one of 69 fellows from a pool of nearly 1,100 applicants through a rigorous, multi-stage peer review process. As a fellow, Sumarsam will receive the opportunity to spend six to 12 months researching and writing full time on the project of his choosing, the support of the ACLS’s endowment.

The ACLS is dedicated to supporting scholars in the humanities and related social sciences at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels. Matthew Goldfeder, director of fellowship programs at ACLS, said, “The fellows’ projects exhibit great disciplinary, temporal, geographic, and methodological diversity. This year’s cohort, moreover, includes several independent scholars as well as faculty of all ranks, on and off the tenure track, from more than 50 colleges and universities, working on projects that peer reviewers deemed best poised to make original and significant contributions to knowledge.”

Sumarsam’s project, titled, “Expressing and Contesting Java-Islam Encounters: Performing Arts at the Crossroads,” examined the link between religion and culture in an Indonesian society and how the performing arts bolsters that link. He delves into “Javanese culture, the largest cultural group in a nation with the largest Muslim population, and analyzes discourses of trans-culturalism, the performing arts, and Islam.” The study “addresses the history and diversity of both traditional and popular Indonesian -Muslim expression, while unpacking Indonesia’s modern socio-cultural and religious development.”

8 Faculty Awarded Tenure

In its recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on eight faculty members, effective July 1, 2015. They are: Associate Professor of Sociology Robyn Autry, Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Amy MacQueen, Associate Professor of Music Paula Matthusen, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Rich Olson, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Economics Damien Sheehan-Connor, and Associate Professor of Classics Eirene Visvardi.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:

Associate Professor Autry is a cultural sociologist with broad interests in collective identity, memory, and visual culture. Her research on the ways in which the past is constructed and represented at museums has been published in several journals. Autry’s book, Desegregating the Past: The Public Life of Memory in South Africa and the United States, analyzes clashes around the development of history museums in both countries as a window into the desire for particular personal and collective orientations toward the past (Columbia University Press, forthcoming). She teaches courses on comparative race and ethnicity, the future, and memory and violence.