Tag Archive for Music Department

Sumarsam Panelist at Puppetry, Playwriting Symposium

Sumarsam and symposium organizer John Bell, director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut, spoke on “Puppets and Texts: Global Perspectives."

Sumarsam and symposium organizer John Bell, director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut, spoke on “Puppets and Texts: Global Perspectives.”

Sumarsam, the University Professor of Music, discussed Indonesian puppetry during the Playwriting, Puppets and Dramaturgy Symposium March 9 at the University of Connecticut Puppet Arts Complex.

The symposium brought together playwrights, puppeteers, dramaturgs, students and puppetry enthusiasts to share ideas and experiences about the practice, theory, and history of puppetry’s uses of text in performance.

Experts discussed ways the visual dramaturgy of puppetry’s sculpture in motion works in tandem with dramatic and narrative texts.

Sumarsam and symposium organizer John Bell, director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut, spoke on “Puppets and Texts: Global Perspectives.” This was Sumarsam’s third time speaking about puppetry at UConn. Wesleyan’s Theater Department has invited Bell and his colleagues to perform and speak at Wesleyan.

“We at Wesleyan Theater and Music Departments have a good connection with the puppetry program at UConn,” Sumarsam said.

View more photos of the event in this Facebook gallery.

Sumarsam also will take part in the “Indonesian Performing Arts and Public Life” event,  April 25-27 at Wesleyan.

Nelson Honored for Contribution to Carnatic Arts

David Nelson

David Nelson

David Nelson, artist in residence at Wesleyan and accomplished musician specializing in Indian music, has been honored with the title of Kala Seva Mani by a prestigious music festival.

The Cleveland Aradhana, said to be the largest annual Carnatic music festival outside India, bestowed the title on Nelson during the festival March 27-April 7.

The Aradhana describes the title on its web site: “The title of Kala Seva Mani is bestowed upon individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the Carnatic arts through their propagation and demonstration in the United States and Canada.”

Nelson, who has performed internationally and written extensively about Indian music, has been an artist in residence at Wesleyan since 2001. He teaches South Indian Percussion and other courses and performs during the annual Navaratri Festival at Wesleyan, a celebration of Indian music and dance that draws visitors and participants from throughout New England.



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.

Braxton Honored by New Music USA for Contribution to Contemporary Music

Anthony Braxton

Anthony Braxton

Anthony Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, received a New Music USA award in the Letters of Distinction category for 2013. This honor has been awarded annually since 1964 and recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the field of contemporary American music.

Braxton is the founder of The Tri-Centric Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that cultivates 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 long and 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.

Other 2013 Letters of Distinction recipients include John Kander, John Luther Adams, William Kraft and Pacific Serenades. Previous recipients include Leonard Bernstein, Joan Tower, Dizzy Gillespie, Michael Tilson Thomas, Virgil Thomson, the Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can, Dawn Upshaw and John Cage, who was affiliated with Wesleyan from the 1950s until his death in 1992.


Matthusen’s art of disappearing Performed at Indiana University

The Indiana University New Music Ensemble began its Nov. 29 concert with a piece written by composer Paula Matthusen, assistant professor of music. Matthusen’s the art of disappearing for chamber orchestra premiered in the Netherlands in 2006. The electroacoustic work is scored for both conventional instruments and fixed media elements, also called tape. The fixed media uses electric guitar sounds, another contemporary influence that Matthusen draws on frequently.

Concerts, Workshops, Courses in Music, Public Life Exploration

Music & Public Life at WesleyanDuring the 2012-2013 academic year, Wesleyan will celebrate and study the sounds, words and spirit of music in public at the local, national and transnational levels through concerts, workshops, gatherings and courses, all designed to cross disciplines and to engage both the campus and regional communities.

Wesleyan’s new Music and Public Life series, presented by the Center for the Arts and Music Department, has a global scope and features performances and lectures by scholars and artists from nine different countries. Events during the fall semester include the New England premiere of “Voices of Afghanistan” (Sept. 28) and concerts by Noah Baerman (Nov. 2), Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church Choir and Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem (Nov. 8), and La Cumbiama eNeYé (Colombia) and Merita Halili and The Raif Hyseni Orchestra (Albania) (Nov. 9); talks by ethnomusicologist Anthony Seeger (Nov. 8) and Ben Ratliff of The New York Times (Nov. 14); and a celebration of the centenary of John Cage (Dec. 5-8).

As part of the celebration, the public is invited to explore, share, and remix the sounds of Middletown throughout the year as part of MiddletownRemix, a project that combines location-based cell phone technology, a database, and a web application allowing individuals to record and store sounds and images of Middletown using free mobile phone software for iPhone/iOS and Android devices. These sounds will ultimately be remixed and performed by students, faculty and community members on Saturday, May 11, 2013.

Voices of Afghanistan's New England premiere kicks off the Music and Public Life series at Wesleyan. The concert is at 8 p.m. Sept. 28 in Crowell Concert Hall.

Voices of Afghanistan’s New England premiere kicks off the Music and Public Life series at Wesleyan. The concert is at 8 p.m. Sept. 28 in Crowell Concert Hall.

The Music and Public Life series is supported by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New England Foundation for the Arts, and is co-sponsored by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the Center for the Arts, the Music Department, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs, Wesleyan Writing Programs and the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns.

For a full listing of all Music and Public Life events, click here.



Sumarsam, Lane Attend World Puppetry Festival in China

Sumarsam speaks at the World Puppetry Festival in June.

As part of his summer study trip, University Professor of Music Sumarsam attended and presented a paper at the “Congress and World Puppetry Festival” in Chengdu, China. Music Librarian Alec McLane also attended the Festival. Sponsored by Union Internationale de la Marionnete (UNIMA), the festival staged puppet shows from all over the world, and hold seminar and organizational meeting.

Sumarsam presented a paper on “Electric Light Bulb in Contemporary Javanese Shadow Puppet Play,” in a panel on puppetry and technology. The panel included paper presentation by Jim Henson’ daughter, Cheryl Henson—the President of The Jim Henson Foundation. She talked about his father’s work, including the creation of Sesame Street and Muppet Show, and introduced his father’s films: “The Dark Crystal” and “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.” Sumarsam also visited his home country, Indonesia, and then presented a paper at the 2nd conference of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM/PSEA) in Manila. His paper is titled “Islamic Perspectives on Javanese Music and Theater: Wayang Dakwah.”

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.