Tag Archive for music

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.

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.

The MASH Highlights Music Scene at Wesleyan

THE MASH, inspired by Fete de la Musique, also known as World Music Day, highlights the student music scene at Wesleyan. The event, which took place on Sept. 6 on multiple stages around campus, provided students with the both the opportunity to listen to some of Wesleyan’s most popular faculty and student bands, and to sign up and play for the audiences themselves. The event was sponsored by the Center for the Arts.

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Ebrecht Performs “Bach to School” on Memorial Chapel Organ

Ronald Ebrecht, artist-in-residence and university organist, performed a “Bach to School” organ concert Sept. 6 in Memorial Chapel. Ebrecht performed major works composed for the organ in various styles during the 19th century by Marco Enrico Bossi, Cesar Franck, Franz Liszt and Felix Mendelssohn. The event kicked off the Center for the Arts’ Music Department Events for the 2013-14 academic year. View upcoming performances here.

organ

CFA Sponsors Steel Symphony, Gallim Dance Performances

Performances never cease, even during the summer, at Wesleyan's Center for the Arts. On July 2, students, staff, faculty and community members danced to the island rhythms of the Hartford Steel Symphony in Memorial Chapel.

Performances never cease, even during the summer, at Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts. On July 2, students, staff, faculty and community members danced to the island rhythms of the Hartford Steel Symphony in Memorial Chapel.

Founded in 1989, this premier Connecticut steel pan group performed calypso, reggae, pop, classical, and jazz tunes.

Founded in 1989, this premier Connecticut steel pan group performed calypso, reggae, pop, classical, and jazz tunes.

On July 11 and 12, Gallim Dance returned to the CFA Theater to perform the New England premiere of Mama Call (2011), and Pupil Suite (2010).

On July 11 and 12, Gallim Dance returned to the CFA Theater to perform the New England premiere of Mama Call (2011), and Pupil Suite (2010).

Mama Call investigates how those who have been displaced rescue the idea of "home." Pupil Suite is reformed to the contagious music of Israeli band Balkan Beat Box, the dance is a joyous romp that plays with the madness of imagination and the ecstasy of movement.

Mama Call investigates how those who have been displaced rescue the idea of “home.” Pupil Suite is performed to the contagious music of Israeli band Balkan Beat Box, the dance is a joyous romp that plays with the madness of imagination and the ecstasy of movement.

To view up-and-coming CFA events visit this link. (Photos by Eki Ramadhan ’16)

Zheng: “Wherever There Are Africans, There Is Good Music”

Su Zheng, associate professor of music, associate professor of East Asian studies, spoke in a recent China Daily USA article about the number of African musical artists in China and how their presence is “creating new types of harmony between the two lands.”

Zheng starts off by pointing out that “Wherever there are Africans, there is good music – just like wherever there are Chinese, there is good food.”

When she discovered that there were no reports on the presence of African music in China, she decided to research the music of the African diaspora herself. The research completed by Zheng and her team of three graduate students from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music shows, while it seems improbable, that African music will greatly influence Chinese music at some point.

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.

Braxton Receives the Nation’s Highest Honor in Jazz

Anthony Braxton (Photo by Carolyn Wachnicki)

Anthony Braxton (Photo by Carolyn Wachnicki)

Composer, saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist, pianist and music educator Anthony Braxton was named a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master for his unique approaches to jazz. The award is considered the nation’s highest honor in the field.

Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, will receive a $25,000 award along with the honor.

According to the NEA, Braxton’s compositions “almost defy categorization through his use of the improvised and rhythmic nature of jazz but moving it in a more avant-garde direction, such as in his Ghost Trance Music compositions.”

Braxton, who was born in Chicago, Ill. has redefined the boundaries of American music for more than 40 years. Drawing on such lifelong influences as jazz saxophonists Wayne Marsh and Albert Ayler, innovative American composers John Cage and Charles Ives and pioneering European Avant-Garde figures Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis, he created a unique musical system, with its own classifications and graphics-based language that embraces a variety of traditions and genres while defying categorization of its own.

In 2010, Braxton revived the Tri-Centric Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that supports his ongoing work and inspires the next generation of creative artists to pursue their own visions with the kind of idealism and integrity Braxton has demonstrated throughout his distinguished career. The foundation also documents, archives, preserves and disseminates Braxton’s scores, writings, performances and recordings and advocates for a broader audience, appreciation, funding and support base for Braxton’s work.

Braxton, who taught “The Music Of Coltrane, Mingus and Cole” and “Materials and Principals of Jazz Improvisation” this year at Wesleyan, has received many awards including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2009 honorary doctorate from the Université de Liège, Belgium, a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2013 New Music USA Letter of Distinction. His next four-act opera, Trillium J, will be premiered in April 2014 at Brooklyn’s Roulette.

Jason Moran, jazz pianist, composer, and artistic advisor for jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, noted, “Anthony Braxton’s expansive catalog has always been an inspiration. [He is] a beautiful artist in every sense of the word: performer, composer, educator, co-conspirator. Braxton is a supreme improviser and composer who searches with sounds.”

Braxton and fellow award recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony and concert on Jan. 13, 2014, at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Read Braxton’s full bio on the NEA website here.

Read coverage of Braxton’s award in the Los Angeles Times here, and in the Chicago Tribune here.

Novak MA ’99 Explores Underground Music Genre

David Novak MA '99

David Novak MA ’99

For his new study Japanoise (Duke University Press), David Novak MA ’99 has conducted more than a decade of research in Japan and the United States to trace the “cultural feedback” that generates and sustains Noise.

Noise is an underground music—made through an amalgam of feedback, distortion, and electronic effects—that first emerged as a genre in the 1980s, circulating on cassette tapes traded between fans in Japan, Europe, and North America. This unusual kind of music has captured the imagination of a small but passionate transnational audience, characterized by its cultivated obscurity, ear-shattering sound, and over-the-top performances. For its dedicated listeners, Noise always seems to be new and to originate from elsewhere: in North America, it was called “Japanoise.”

Book by David Novak MA '99

Book by David Novak MA ’99

Novak’s book is a lively ethnographic account of live performances, the circulation of recordings, and the lives and creative practices of musicians and listeners. The author examines the technologies of Noise and the productive distortions of its networks. He also describes musical circulation through sound and listening, recording and performance, international exchange, and the social interpretations of media. Chapters are devoted to “Scenes of Liveness and Deadness,” “Sonic Maps of the Japanese Underground,”  “Genre Noise,” “Feedback, Subjectivity, and Performance,” “The Future of Cassette Culture,” and more.

Novak is an assistant professor of music at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Hoggard’s Vibes on NPR’s Top Jazz Album List

Jay Hoggard's Christmas Vibes All Thru The Year.

Jay Hoggard’s Christmas Vibes All Thru The Year.

NPR Jazz named Connecticut vibraphonist and composer Jay Hoggard’s album Christmas Vibes All Thru The Year on its top “5 Jazz Christmas Albums for 2012” list.

Hoggard, adjunct professor of music, has recorded more than 20 albums. For his latest, he draws upon the Christian tradition in which he was raised — his father was a clergyman — for a universal message surrounding all the good things of the season.

Joining Hoggard are fellow respected veterans James Weidman on organ and Bruce Cox on drums.

Rahaim ’00 Examines Gesture and Voice in Indian Vocal Music

Matthew Rahaim ’00

In Musicking Bodies: Gesture and Voice in Hindistani Music (Wesleyan University Press), Matthew Rahaim ’00 studies the role of the body in Indian vocal music. Indian vocalists have long traced intricate shapes with their hands while improvising melody. Although every vocalist has an idiosyncratic gestural style, students inherit ways of shaping melodic space from their teachers, and the motion of the hand and voice are always intimately connected.

Book by Matthew Rahaim ’00

Musicking Bodies is among the first extended studies of the relationship between gesture and melody. Rahaim draws on years of vocal training, ethnography, and close analysis to examine the ways in which hand gesture is used alongside vocalization to manifest melody as dynamic, three-dimensional shapes. The book builds on insights of phenomenology, Indian and Western music theory, and cultural studies to illuminate not only the performance of gesture, but its implications for the transmission of culture, the conception of melody, and the very nature of the musicking body. Several helpful illustrations and photographs have been included in the publication.

Rahaim is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Minnesota. He was a music major at Wesleyan and received his MA and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.