Tag Archive for music

Hecht ’04 Finds the Irresistible Music for Commercial Clients

Jonathan Hecht ’04, whose company, Venn Art, finds the perfect music for commercial clients, was photographed at the premiere of a snowboarding documentary he worked on for Red Bull, The Art of Flight.

Jonathan Hecht ’04, whose company, Venn Arts, finds the perfect music for commercial clients, was photographed at the premiere of a snowboarding documentary, The Fourth Phase, which he worked on for Red Bull.

“Wait, turn that up! What is that song?”

If you’ve ever watched a commercial that became more significant the second you heard a song you just had to hear again, chances are Jonathan Hecht ’04—founder of Venn Arts—was behind its discovery.

His interest in pairing music with picture was inspired by the Paul Thomas Anderson film Boogie Nights: “I realized how different some of the musical selections were, but how they all fit together to create a sound and musical character for the film.”

He began to wonder if he could create a career out of this observation—which became Venn Arts, the music supervision company specializing in curating and procuring licensed music for commercial projects. Hecht took the name from a Venn diagram, with its “intersection or coming together of two things to make something unique,” he said. For Hecht, one of those “things” is always music: “There are so many nuanced emotions that can be inflected when you find the right music.”

Now, collaborating with brands such as Under Armour, Free People, Mercedes, and most recently, supervising the music for Subaru’s phenomenally effective “Love” ad campaign, he is gaining attention: Forbes recently wrote about his work as a music supervisor to Subaru’s marketing and rapid sales growth. “I’ve been working with Subaru’s ad agency, Carmichael Lynch, since 2011 and have placed more than 30 songs into national TV ads for the brand,” he says.  The campaign was also highlighted as “Ad of the Day” on Adweek.

Lawrence-Riddell ’98 Brings Hip-Hop To Classrooms As Mr. El-Are

Michael Lawrence-Riddell ’98, a middle school language arts teacher, composes hip-hop songs to teach literature and history. (photo: Lauren Lawrence-Riddell)

Michael Lawrence-Riddell ’98, a middle school language arts teacher, composes hip-hop songs to teach literature and history. (Photo by Lauren Lawrence-Riddell)

It turns out that Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 is not the only Wesleyan alumnus presenting history through the sounds of hip-hop. Just upstream from Wesleyan, in Amherst, Mass., Michael Lawrence-Riddell ’98 has worked to bring hip-hop music from the stage into the classroom with the help of several other Wesleyan alumni.

So far, this middle school language arts teacher has written and recorded more than a dozen original songs, each intended to engage students while offering context and analysis of literature and history. Some historical topics mentioned in his work include the Harlem Renaissance, Hurricane Katrina and the Stono Rebellion. His songs also tackle American literary classics like The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. One song “Descendants of Cain,” about John Steinbeck’s famous novella Of Mice and Men, focuses on the many allusions found throughout the work, as well as its central theme of solitude. For many of these 15 songs, Lawrence-Riddell also offers unique lesson plans intended for use by other teachers.

Lawrence-Riddell has received plenty of support for his project, called Mind Your Music, including the skills of Wesleyan friends Kimani Rogers ’97, Tarik Holder ’98 and Keith Witty ’99, as well as financial backing from a Kickstarter campaign.

Cover copyAs an African American Studies major at Wesleyan, Lawrence-Riddell always sought ways to communicate the complex history of race and racism in America. Music would become a conduit for this mission. In the unapologetically political and pro-Black stances of many of his favorite hip-hop groups he found a call to action and inspiration to create socially conscious art.

Attending Wesleyan during a ‘golden age’ of independent hip-hop, he remembers returning from class with his friends to their Nicholson and Hewitt dorm rooms on Tuesday afternoons to discuss and listen to the latest albums. Together, Rogers, Holder and Lawrence-Riddell also worked for the student hip-hop publication Off Tha Top. When Rogers and Holder formed the hip-hop group The Masterminds, Lawrence-Riddell served as their manager, touring the country with hip-hop legends like A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, MF Doom and others.

“The experiences and memories that we built were incredible…those guys were, and are to this day, my brothers,” he says.

For those who’d like a sample of the hip-hop art of Mister El-Are, Lawrence-Riddell notes that YouTube offers a video for the song “Firebrands (Stand Up!) about the Stono Rebellion, Nat Turner and his insurrection, Denmark Vesey’s plotted rebellion, and John Brown and the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Lawrence-Riddell, Holder, Rogers and Akrobatik provide bombastic lyrical delivery and hard hitting beats that align with the radically progressive message of the subject matter.

Sumarsam, PhD Students, Alumni Present at Symposium

University Professor of Music Sumarsam demonstrated puppet movements at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA), in Penang, Malaysia.

University Professor of Music Sumarsam demonstrated puppet movements at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA), in Penang, Malaysia.

University Professor of Music Sumarsam and several PhD students and alumni recently presented papers at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA). The symposium was hosted by Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia, from July 31 to Aug. 6.

Sumarsam presented a paper titled, “Religiosity in Javanese Wayang Puppet Play,” and demonstrated puppet movements.

LA Times Features New Dramatic Oratorio by Neely Bruce

The Los Angeles Times offers a preview of “Circular 14: The Apotheosis of Aristides, a new dramatic oratorio composed by Neely Bruce, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, which has its world premiere Jan. 23 at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.

The piece tells the story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a diplomat and little-known Portuguese hero to many thousands of Jews during World War II. In June 1940, nearly 120,000 refugees fleeing from Nazi persecution amassed down the road from the Portuguese consulate in Bordeaux, France. Though Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar issued a vehement directive to deny safe haven to the refugees, Sousa Mendes still issued more than 30,000 visas in a matter of months. The article likens him to Oskar Schindler, the factory owner famous for saving the lives of more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust. In contrast, Sousa Mendes’ “contribution to history hasn’t received the same recognition mainly because Salazar took great pains to bury his story, Bruce says.”

According to the article:

After Sousa Mendes’ actions were discovered, his case went to the Supreme Court of Portugal, where he was essentially given a slap on the wrist. The punishment wasn’t severe enough for Salazar, so the dictator had Sousa Mendes stripped of all diplomatic privileges as well as his license to practice law. When Sousa Mendes married his second wife, Andrée Cibial, the couple were not allowed to marry in Portugal. Family members found it hard to secure employment.

“The petty cruelty involved was just ridiculous,” Bruce says.

Sousa Mendes died in poverty in 1954, and he was buried in a wooden box in the cemetery of Franciscan monks.

It’s a beautiful yet tragic tale, filled with larger-than-life characters — all the hallmarks of great opera, Bruce says, adding that the piece has been in the works for more than five years and that he ended up writing the libretto himself.

“I wasn’t writing a fairy-tale opera. I was writing an opera about real events, so I wanted to be as accurate as possible,” says Bruce, who has often visited political issues in his compositions and once set the Bill of Rights to music.

 

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.

Jazz Quartet Stanley Maxwell to Perform World Premieres March 1 at Russell House

Jazz quartet Stanley Maxwell will perform at 3 p.m. March 1 in the Russell House.

Jazz quartet Stanley Maxwell will perform at 3 p.m. March 1 in the Russell House.

Wesleyan’s “Music at the Russell House” series concludes with a free concert by the Connecticut-based jazz quartet Stanley Maxwell at 3 p.m. March 1 in the Russell House. The group plays music that blends tight arrangements with intricate group improvisations. The concert at Wesleyan will feature acoustic arrangements of original tunes from the past decade, including several world premieres.

Stanley Maxwell's Andy Chatfield, pictured second from left, composed several original tunes for the group that will make their world premier at the March 1 concert. (Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography)

Stanley Maxwell’s Andy Chatfield, pictured second from left, composed several original tunes for the group that will make their world premiere at the March 1 concert. (Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography)

Stanley Maxwell features the CFA’s Press and Marketing Director Andy Chatfield on drums, Mark Crino on bass, Eric DellaVecchia on alto saxophone, and Evan Green on piano.

The group has built a grassroots name for themselves at colleges and festivals throughout the northeast since 2001, combining the virtuosic and the simple into a visceral concoction, which helped lead to their winning “Best Jazz Band” in the Hartford Advocate’s Grand Band Slam Readers’ Poll in 2007, 2009, and 2010.

“Mousetrap,” an 11-bar blues written by pianist Evan Green, was influenced by Thelonious Monk, and was featured on Stanley Maxwell’s debut album Don’t Wake The Baby!  The band’s recording of the composition attracted international attention, including “Mousetrap” winning “Best Jazz Song” at the 7th annual Independent Music Awards in December 2007. The band also won the Relix Magazine November 2007 “JamOff” contest for unsigned artists, with “Mousetrap” featured on that month’s Relix CD sampler, included with over 100,000 issues of the internationally distributed magazine, dedicated to jam bands and improvisational music.

Jay Siegel’s Tokens, Super Girls Group to Headline WESU’s Doo Wop Benefit Concert

On July 12,  Wesleyan's 88.1 FM WESU radio is hosting a fundraising concert in celebration of 75 years of community radio. The concert will feature several doo wop, rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll artists. 

On July 12,  Wesleyan’s 88.1 FM WESU radio is hosting a fundraising concert in celebration of 75 years of community radio. The concert will feature several doo wop, rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll artists.

Lovers of vintage doo wop, rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll attended a night to remember when Wesleyan’s 88.1 FM WESU Middletown presented the “WESU 75th Anniversary Doo Wop Extravaganza” on July 12.

The fundraising concert, held at the Middletown High School Performing Arts Center, was a celebration of 75 years of community radio.

Headlining the show was Jay Siegel’s Tokens, the legendary group that recorded the mega hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” They’ll be joined by The Super Girls Group, featuring original members of some of the greatest female groups of rock ’n’ roll, including:  Louise Murray of The Hearts & Jaynetts (“Lonely Nights” and “Sally Go Round The Roses”);  Lillian Walker of The Exciters (“Tell Him” and “Doo Wah Diddy”); Margaret Ross of The Cookies (“Chains” and “Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby”); Beverly Warren of The Raindrops (“The Kind of Boy You Can’t Forget” and “What a Guy”); and Nanette Licari of Reparata and The Del Rons  (“Whenever A Teenager Cries” and “Tommy”).  

WESU has been broadcasting ‘oldies’ music for 35 years on Saturday mornings on the “Moondog Matinee” radio show (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

“While most commercial radio stations have abandoned this musical format, our ‘oldies’ programs are among our most popular shows. This is a great examples of how community radio, like WESU, serves the needs of listeners who are marginalized by main stream media,” said WESU General Manager Ben Michael.

Sinnreich ’94 Investigates Consequences of Music Piracy Crusade

AramSinnreich

Aram Sinnreich ’94

Aram Sinnreich ’94 is the author of the new book The Piracy Crusade: How the Music Industry’s War on Sharing Destroys Markets and Erodes Civil Liberties (University of Massachusetts Press). An assistant professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, he served as an expert witness on the 2010 court case Arista Records vs. Lime Group, which was settled out of court before he could present his 20,000-word report. The Piracy Crusade was built on the foundation of his unused research at the time.

Sinnreich argues that Hollywood, the recording industry, and the United States government are acting as crusaders who are waging a destructive war against digital technology innovators and so-called “pirates.” Attempting to shut down peer-to-peer sharing and unlicensed streaming of media, the industries have used excessive force against and attempted to dehumanize users in order to stop copyright infringement.

Sinnreich writes that the resulting laws and policies have only succeeded in hurting free speech, privacy, and open discourse while failing to curb the trend in pirating. The book begins by charting a social history of the music industry and examining its relationship with 20th-century technology. Challenging the dominant narrative of the changes undergone by the music industry, Sinnreich then looks at P2P, or peer-to-peer, file sharing in comparison to traditional music economics and recent trends in sales. He then exposes the “collateral damage” of the piracy crusade.

piracy crusade

New book by Aram Sinnreich ’94

Sinnreich is also the author of Mashed Up: Music, Technology and the Rise of Configurable Culture (University of Massachusetts Press) and has long been interested in music and intellectual property. He has published dozens of music recordings and performed with various musical ensembles.

During his time at Wesleyan, he studied with several music professors (Anthony Braxton, Jay Hoggard ‘76, Abraham Adzenyah, and Neely Bruce), worked at WEESU, and interned under Pete Ganbarg ’88 at SBK Records. After graduating Wesleyan he worked as an analyst for the New York-based Internet research firm Jupiter Communications.

“My clients were the major record labels and film studios, and my job was to keep them apprised of new technology developments and advise them about how best to take advantage of them,” Sinnreich says.

“When Napster was released in 1999, I fielded a survey that demonstrated P2P [peer-to-peer] users were actually buying more music than otherwise identical Internet users who hadn’t used the service. I thought my clients in the music industry would be delighted to hear this, but to my surprise they disputed my findings, and even issued a press release to discredit my report!

“That was the point at which I realized how complex, and often irrational, the entertainment industry’s relationship to intellectual property is.”

Sinnreich has also served as expert witness for cases such as MGM vs Grokster, the P2P suit that reached US Supreme Court in 2005. When he moved into the world of academia, he maintained his interest in the social and legal dimensions of music and technology.

As he wrote and researched The Piracy Crusade, Sinnreich published drafts of his work-in-progress on MediaCommons Press, an open scholarship platform that allowed him to receive comments and feedback from music industry executives, analysts, and attorneys as well as the general public. And, in the spirit of his research subject, the completed manuscript of his new book is available for free online under a Creative Commons license, as well as for sale on Amazon.

Cardozo ’08 Produces CD with Show of Cards Band

Mike Cardozo '08

Mike Cardozo ’08

Mike Cardozo ’08 has produced a new CD titled Something Better, performed by the band Show of Cards (showofcards.com), of which he is a member. The band was originally formed as a trio of Cardozo siblings: singer-songwriter Karen (of Chattering Magpies), bassist Joe (of Cold Duck Complex) and lead guitarist Mike. With drummer Makaya McCraven and engineer Justin Pizzoferrato, they released their debut Leap Year in 2009.

Something Better CD produced by Mike Cardozo '08

Something Better CD produced by Mike Cardozo ’08

With Something Better, Mike puts on his production hat to showcase his sister Karen’s thoughtful songwriting in the textures, rhythms, and arrangements of musical languages from jazz to West African to classical. Karen and Mike are joined by bassist/engineer Garrett Sawyer, drummer Sturgis Cunningham, and notable guest collaborators including cellist Eric Remschneider  (of many acts including Smashing Pumpkins), Jeff D’Antona (keyboards), Zoe Darrow (fiddle) and Tim Eriksen (backing vocals). Live shows may also feature Dave Chalfant of The Nields on bass and Joe Fitzpatrick of Trailer Park on drums.

Mike currently works as a high school biology, chemistry, and math teacher at The Academy at Charlemont in Massachusetts. He recently shared his thoughts on how his Wesleyan education has inspired his musical career:

“Although I majored in biology at Wesleyan, I have been continuously and simultaneously immersed in my work as a musician from my college years until today.  I am grateful to have gained a well-rounded musical education at Wesleyan and to have learned from several deeply knowledgeable and inspirational professors, as well as to have been stimulated by working with numerous talented peers.

“I spent several semesters working with Jay Hoggard ’76 in the Jazz Orchestra. Besides deepening my appreciation for this particular language of music, Jay served as a model for true professionalism as he guided us through all the intangibles involved in preparation to bring our best performance to every opportunity we had. I bring the focused attitude he helped me develop to every performance and studio session, and I apply the specifics of arrangement and harmonic structures that I learned.

“Anthony Braxton just loved music in a very pure way and showed me how deeply one can delve into music. I took his course  The Music of Coltrane, Mingus, and Tristano  and always remember to look deeper into anything I listen to, no matter how many times I’ve heard it, to find new principles that I can examine and build upon.

“After studying jazz for many years, West African Drumming with Abraham Adzenyah was a transformative experience. Gaining comfort with a variety of complex Ghanaian rhythms really expanded my vocabulary, and that rhythmic mindset has a huge influence on my arrangement choices.

“Being part of several senior thesis musical performances (Marlon Bishop ’07, Nate Kaufman ’08, Miles Turner ’08, Nate Ash-Morgan ’08) was inspirational as I appreciated the unique qualities of each composer and bandleader. Playing in some reggae and Afro-beat bands with my classmates also directly influenced my arrangement and production style. I am honored to have worked with so many incredible peers and teachers, and every experience played a role in what I brought to the studio as a producer for Something Better.

Wesleyan Orchestra Performs Fall Concert

The Wesleyan Orchestra performed Nov. 16 in Crowell Concert Hall for their annual fall concert.

The Wesleyan Orchestra performed Nov. 16 in Crowell Concert Hall for their annual fall concert.

The orchestra was lead by conductor, Nadya Potemkina, who is the university's adjunct assistant professor of music and is currently nearing the completion of her doctoral degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Memphis.

The orchestra was lead by conductor, Nadya Potemkina, who is the university’s adjunct assistant professor of music and is currently nearing the completion of her doctoral degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Memphis. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, she began her music studies at the age of 5 as a violinist.

Under Potemkina, the Wesleyan Orchestra showcased a wide variety their symphonic repertoire.

Under Potemkina, the Wesleyan Orchestra showcased a wide variety their symphonic repertoire.

The Wesleyan University Orchestra has been an integral part of the University’s Music Department for many years. The completion  of the Center for the Arts in 1973 allowed the orchestra to begin a regular annual series of concerts

The Wesleyan University Orchestra has been an integral part of the University’s Music Department for many years. The completion of the Center for the Arts in 1973 allowed the orchestra to begin a regular annual series of concerts.

The Wesleyan Orchestra performs frequently throughout the year and they encourage students to come enjoy their music.

The Wesleyan Orchestra performs frequently throughout the year and they encourage students to come enjoy their music. (Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)

For more information on the Wesleyan Orchestra, visit the organization’s website.

 

Sumarsam, McGraw Ph.D. ’06 Create Festival Focuses on Indonesian Performing Arts

Sumarsam

Sumarsam

Ethnomusicologist Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, and Andy McGraw Ph.D. ’06, now an associate professor at the University of Richmond, have been working with the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian Institution to organize and design a festival and conference on Indonesian performing arts. The festival will be held in the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art, Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

The Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble will participate in the festival and Sumarsam will deliver the keynote address on “Traditional Performing Arts of Indonesia in a Globalizing World” on Nov. 2. Sumarsam will discuss 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.

The event will offer family-friendly talks and events on painting shadow puppets, Indonesian music, Indonesian dance, a Javanese show play, gamelan marathons and more. See the full schedule online here.