Tag Archive for Music Department

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.

Professor Barlow Remembered as a Brilliant Pianist

Jon Barlow, professor of music, emeritus, died Dec. 15 at the age of 73.

Barlow arrived at Wesleyan in 1966 after receiving his BA and MA from Cornell University. He arrived as the Music Department began its visionary phase and taught in the department for 34 years. Grounded in “Western” music history, Barlow expanded his horizons geographically and conceptually, constantly creating innovative courses, which attracted serious students. Many of his students went on to become established composers, performers, musicologists and ethnomusicologists.

Grant’s Project Among NYT’s 10 ‘Best in Art’

A collaborative project by Assistant Professor of Music Roger Matthew Grant was listed in New York Times’ co-chief art critic Holland Cotter’s Top 10 list of Best in Art.

Grant served as the dramaturg and also performed in the installation of “The Magic Flute,” a revamped version of Mozart’s original at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, staged by 80WSE Gallery and the Cheap Kollectiv of Berlin. “This was theater for mind and senses,” writes Cotter, describing it as “packed with magic.”

Part one of “The Magic Flute,” an opera in six steps, was in open rehearsals Dec. 1–5. Part two, a film of the piece by Michael Auder, will play June 8 – Aug. 13 at 80WSE Gallery.

Composer Matthusen’s U.S. Premiere Performed Nov. 21 at Crowell

Paula Matthusen, assistant professor of music, delivered a speech titled “Sounds in Remembered Spaces.”

Paula Matthusen in Memorial Chapel.

(By Fred Wills ’19)

A composition by Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen will debut in the U.S. on Nov. 21.

Her work, “on the attraction for felicitous amplitude,” will be performed by the string quartet, Brooklyn Rider, in Crowell Concert Hall. Join Matthusen for a pre-concert talk at starting at 7:15 p.m. In addition, on Dec. 3, violinist Todd Reynolds will perform a composition written by Matthusen at CFA Hall.

Matthusen returns to Wesleyan this fall after being named a 2014-2015 Rome Prize recipient. Through a fellowship awarded by The American Academy in Rome, she received the opportunity to expand upon her own professional and artistic pursuits.

An acclaimed composer who writes both electro-acoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations, Matthusen had the pleasure of composing for a variety of different ensembles, choreographers, music festivals, and theater companies around the world including Dither Electric Guitar Quartet, Mantra Percussion, the Estonian National Ballet, the Tanglewood Festival, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, and the Aspen Music Festival to name a few—and now adds another to her ever growing list.

Matthusen’s awards include honors from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Awards, the Elliott Carter Rome Prize and many others. She also has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

GLS Presents Jazz Concert, Open Course Session, Nov. 30

Noah Baerman

Noah Baerman

Graduate Liberal Studies will present a special concert and open session of the course Monk and Mingus: The Cutting Edge of Jazz with Jazz Ensemble Coach Noah Baerman, Nov. 30 in Russell House. Baerman will perform on piano, accompanied by bassist Henry Lugo, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Music and Private Lessons Teacher Pheeroan akLaff on percussion.

The first hour of the class (6:30-7:30 p.m.) will be a discussion, demonstration and Q&A session, followed by a performance of music composed by and associated with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus. Attendees interested in learning more about Graduate Liberal Studies are encouraged to arrive at 6 p.m. for an information session with GLS Director Jennifer Curran. The event is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception.

Collaborative Cluster Provides Perspectives in Dance, Music, English, African American Studies

Faculty Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown,  Nicole Stanton, and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching the new Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar.

Faculty Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown, Nicole Stanton, and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching the new Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar. The cluster enables faculty to develop a shared research project with a unifying theme. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
This year, four Wesleyan faculty are coordinating a year-long interdisciplinary project that enables students from an array of majors and academic disciplines to collaborate, create and work together as a learning community under the theme “Renaissance Projects: Reclaiming Memory, Movement and Migration.”

The Collaborative Clusters Initiative of the Allbritton Center enables faculty from a variety of departments and programs to develop a shared research project with a unifying theme. Cluster courses in 2015-16 provide perspectives from dance, music, English, and African American studies on the ways performance practices have engaged the past and present in the face of great migrations. The collaborative project is rooted in a multi-faceted conception of renaissance, and explores states of past and present, of vitality and decay, and of presence and absence.

Students, in collaboration with peers, faculty and visiting artist/scholars, develop original research in writing, performance or visual art around the cluster theme.

This year, faculty members Nicole Stanton, Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown,  and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching courses in the Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar.

Bria Grant ’17, an African American studies and dance double major, was ecstatic to take classes in the new cluster because it addressed both her interest in the arts and black people in America in one initiative. She’s enrolled in Stanton’s and Hoggard’s class this fall.

“The discussions we have each week, coupled with the nurturing aspect of breaking bread and eating dinner together, create a familial and intellectual space that both comforts and stimulates my mind simultaneously,” Grant said. “Furthermore, the research seminar itself gives me the space to immerse myself within the subject matter in a way I personally see fit, and explore specific aspects without the heavy burden of a strict curriculum.”

Hoggard Named Middetown’s Music Ambassador

Pictured, Jay Hoggard (center) accepted his award from City of Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Commission on the Arts Chair Jenny Lecce.

Pictured, Jay Hoggard (center) accepted his award from City of Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Commission on the Arts Chair Jenny Lecce. (Photo by Cassandra Day/Middletown Press)

Wesleyan vibraphonist and composer Jay Hoggard was named the Music Ambassador for the City of Middletown on Aug. 31 at the Mayor’s Office. In addition to being recognized for his valuable artistic and creative contributions, the Music Ambassadors’ music becomes the featured ‘music on hold’ for all City of Middletown phones.

Hoggard, who is a member of the Class of 1976, is an adjunct professor of music and adjunct professor of African American studies.

City of Middletown Mayor Dan Drew also proclaimed that August 31 is Jay Hoggard Day.

Read more in The Middletown Press.

Jay Hoggard

Jay Hoggard

The Music Ambassadors’ program is sponsored by the Middletown Commission on the Arts/City Arts & Culture Office. Learn more about Jay Hoggard on his website.

Beatles Benefit Concert Created in Memory of CFA Intern

A 21-member all-star band, featuring four members of the Wesleyan community, will come together to perform the Beatles White Album in its entirety at Blackbird: A Benefit Concert for the Stephanie Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fund, on Saturday, July 25 at Crowell Concert Hall. Pictured: Nadya Potemkina, Andy Chatfield, and Shona Kerr. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell).

A 21-member all-star band, featuring four members of the Wesleyan community, will come together to perform the Beatles’ White Album in its entirety at Blackbird: A Benefit Concert for the Stephanie Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fund, July 25 at Crowell Concert Hall. Pictured, from left, are Wesleyan’s Nadya Potemkina, Andy Chatfield and Shona Kerr. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

A 21-member all-star band will come together to perform the Beatles’ White Album in its entirety at Blackbird: A Benefit Concert for the Stephanie Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fund, at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at Crowell Concert Hall. The concert is being held in memory of former Center for the Arts intern Stephanie Nelson, of Middletown, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 25. All proceeds from ticket sales will go toward creating a scholarship fund for Middlesex Community College students in support of internships at Wesleyan.

The concert is the brainchild of drummer Andy Chatfield, press and marketing director of the Center for the Arts. “Stephanie was the CFA’s first broadcast communications and multimedia intern from Middlesex Community College in 2013, and we all appreciated the energy and light that she brought to our office and to everything she did,” Chatfield said. “This event will celebrate Stephanie’s life with her family and friends and create a scholarship fund in her memory to support interns from Middlesex Community College to be paid for time spent working at Wesleyan.”