Tag Archive for Music Department

Alvin Lucier’s Career Celebrated through Installation, Performance

For 40 years, Alvin Lucier, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, emeritus, has pioneered music composition and performance, including the notation of performers’ physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes.

On Nov. 4-6, the Music Department and Center for the Arts celebrated Lucier’s remarkable musical career and contributions. Lucier retired in June 2010. Photos of the event are below. (Information provided by Andy Chatfield, press and marketing manager for the CFA)

Patrons explore the exhibit "Alvin Lucier (and His Artist Friends)" during the opening reception in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Nov. 5. The exhibit, curated by Andrea Miller-Keller, includes audio recordings, video, scores and album/CD artwork of musical compositions; selected works by other artists that have inspired or been inspired by Lucier's work, or exchanged ideas with the composer in meaningful ways; and memorabilia and ephemera of historical interest in the life and career of Alvin Lucier, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, emeritus. The exhibit is on display through Dec. 11.

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

Gamelan Ensemble Performs at Indonesian Embassy

Wesleyan's gamelan is an ensemble that consists of predominantly metallophone and gong type instruments. The instruments produce tones when struck with mallets.


Fresh off a performance at Crowell Concert Hall last week, Wesleyan’s Indonesian gamelan ensemble packed its gongs for Washington.

Led by Adjunct Professor of Music Sumarsam and artist in residence I.M. Harjito, the ensemble performed at the Indonesian Embassy March 4, in an opening event for a festival celebrating composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003). Harrison is the American composer credited with merging gamelan music and Western concert traditions.

Gamelan refers to several varieties of Indonesian ensemble music performed mainly with metallophone and bronze gong-type instruments played with mallets. (Listen to the Wesleyan gamelan ensemble perform “Ladrang Gegot laras pelog pathet nem” in this audio clip, courtesy of the World Music Archives.)

Wesleyan’s gamelan ensemble also played at The George Washington University on March 5.

“Diplomacy is not necessarily

Gale to Host Internet Radio Show on Reiki

Priscilla Gale (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Priscilla Gale, private lessons teacher for jazz and voice in the Music Department, will host a show on “Sacred Song Reiki” for Internet Radio – VoiceAmerica.com. The show will be aired at noon on Saturday starting April 23.

VoiceAmerica features more than 200 hosts talking about a variety of  topics—from sports and finance to health, hobbies, pop culture and business. It has more than 2.5 million listeners.

Slobin Authors Book on Folk Music

Book by Mark Slobin.

Mark Slobin, professor of music, is the author of Folk Music: A Very Short Introduction, published by Oxford University Press, 2010.

According to the publisher, “This is the first compact introduction to folk music that offers a truly global perspective. Slobin offers an extraordinarily generous portrait of folk music, one that embraces a Russian wedding near the Arctic Circle, a group song in a small rainforest village in Brazil, and an Uzbek dance tune in Afghanistan.

He looks in detail at three poignant songs from three widely separated regions–northern Afghanistan, Jewish Eastern Europe, and the Anglo-American world–with musical notation and lyrics included. And he also describes the efforts of scholars who fanned out across the globe, to find and document this ever-changing music.”

Gil-Ordóñez’s Orchestra Receives Grant from Mellon Foundation



Angel Gil-Ordóñez



Post-Classical Ensemble, the Washington, D.C.-based orchestra co-founded by Angel Gil-Ordóñez, Wesleyan’s director of orchestra studies, has been awarded $200,000 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The ensemble plans to use the money for programming and touring programs through the 2012-2013 season, as well as a DVD.

At Wesleyan, Gil-Ordóñez is director of private lessons, chamber music and ensembles, music director of the Wesleyan Orchestra and Wesleyan Concert Choir, and adjunct professor of music.

Founded in 2003, the ensemble specializes in thematic programming involving film, theater, dance and vernacular music.

Braxton Honored at Tri-Centric Foundation Benefit Show

Anthony Braxton, professor of music was honored at the “Tri-Centric Modeling: Past, Present and Future” benefit concerts June 18-19 in Greenwich Village and Brooklyn, N.Y. Braxton joined the performance at points, playing with his former students Taylor Ho Bynum ’98, James Fei ’99, Mary Halvorson ’02, and Chris Jonas ’99. Proceeds from the concerts benefited the nonprofit Tri-Centric Foundation, set up to archive Braxton’s work and perpetuate his exuberant legacy.

Braxton performed excerpts from his new opera, “Trillium E,” which featured a cross-section of past and present collaborators, including pianist Marilyn Crispell, drummer Gerry Hemingway and cornetist Ho Bynum.

In a June 10 New York Times article, Braxton was described as “the indefatigably ambitious multireedist and composer (who) has exerted a powerful influence on the American avant-garde of the last 35 years.”