The Center for the Arts is one of the rare places in the state where you can consistently experience arts from around the world. This semester is no exception. In January and February, the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery hosts the work of ten contemporary Chinese artists born after the Cultural Revolution who are challenging traditional notions of Chinese identity and inventing new ways to shout out in the global arena. In February, Syrian singer Gaida brings her band to Crowell Concert Hall. At a time when her country is under siege, her soulful voice will remind us of the beauty and power of Syrian music and culture. And playwright Guillermo Calderón will discuss his award-winning works about Chile in the aftermath of the dictatorship.
Finally, the Music Department will host a March symposium on the work of the legendary experimental music composer David Tudor and, in April, the Theater Department offers Wes Out-Loud, a site-specific work created by Assistant Professor Marcela Oteíza and her students.
The semester ends on May 7 with Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter, the second annual eco-arts festival featuring world music bands, educational exhibits, and site-specific performance works by area organizations at Middletown’s Harbor Park, located on the bank of the Connecticut River.
A pianist, composer, educator, author, and Artistic Director of Resonant Motion, “Noah Baerman is no stranger to aiming high” (David Adler, Village Voice). With a cast of instrumentalists and vocalists including alto saxophonist/flutist Kris Allen, vibraphonist Chris Dingman ’02, cellist and vocalist Melanie Hsu ’13, bassist Henry Lugo, Private Lessons Teacher and drummer Bill Carbone MA ’07, Ph.D. candidate, and vocalists Latanya Farrell, Claire Randall ’12, and Garth Taylor ’12, Mr. Baerman (on piano, synthesizer, and slide guitar) and his group presented the world premiere of his extended work The Rock and the Redemption on April 25, 2015 in Crowell Concert Hall.
Click here to view the full album on flickr. Images by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography.
Wesleyan University is a center for creativity and innovation, and one of the best places for our community to come together to participate in that energy is at the Center for the Arts. Our year-long exploration of Muslim Women’s Voices in performance continues on February 27 with a rare opportunity to see a dance company coming to Middletown from the northernmost tip of Sumatra, Indonesia. The dances of Tari Aceh! feature quick, highly-coordinated movements of hands, heads, and torsos, punctuated by lively body percussion. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. And on April 17 and 18, you can get a first look at a theatrical work-in-progress by playwright and actress Leila Buck ’99 that was commissioned for Muslim Women’s Voices.
In April and May, we present “The Connecticut Meets the Nile,” a two-part happening that will highlight two great rivers. On April 10, Crowell Concert Hall hosts The Nile Project, an all-star gathering of musicians who live in the countries that border the Nile River and have come together to create music that draws attention to the environmental issues of a historic river that sustains millions of people. Then on May 9, at Middletown’s Harbor Park, Wesleyan and regional partner organizations present Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter, an afternoon of music performances, visual art, and kid’s activities that will engage our community with our own beautiful river.
And throughout the winter and spring, you can put your finger on the pulse of what’s inspiring our newest artists by visiting the Senior Thesis Exhibitions in Zilkha Gallery, or by attending thesis performances by music, dance, and theater students performed throughout the CFA.
Favorite Professor: Joseph Siry, Javier Castro, Mari Dummett (can’t choose between them—sorry!)
Center for the Arts Story: What stands out for me about the CFA is not an individual story, its an individual, or rather a force that has manifested itself in the form of an individual—Pamela Tatge.
There are very few people that are equally brilliant educators, dreamers and administrators. I learned very quickly that Pam is one of them. During my year as her Arts Administration Intern and as the first intern for a program she helped realize, the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP), I felt profoundly connected to and proud of Wesleyan in a way that I had not in my previous years there.
What is exceptional about Pam is her limitlessness in energy, in innovation and in creating. She is an artist presenting artists.
She deals with restrictions like budget and locality in a way that attacks and utilizes supposed weaknesses that seemed impossible to deal with. Her dedication to all of the arts and cross disciplinary projects is truly unique and her ability to see what is needed in a smaller school as well as a more general demographic is only as incredible as her ability to create platforms for them. If you begin to take note of the annual festivals and events affiliated with the CFA, you will quickly see that most, if not all, are originated within her fifteen or so years working at the CFA.
She is a role model for anyone who wants to work in the arts in a way that betters peoples’ lives. For me, she was a role model and mentor. She personally taught me the ways in which to go think about the arts and how to continually improve myself professionally. What makes her educating so effective is her skill in conjunction with her unwavering warmth, patience and excitement.
I say all of this because to celebrate the CFA is in part to celebrate Pam and what she has given to and expected of the CFA.
I will be forever be grateful that Pam chose me to be a part of ICPP and her team at the CFA. Pam, you are an inspiration. Thank you for all the opportunities and lessons you have given me and thank you for making the CFA such a rewarding place for Wesleyan affiliates and everyone else who is lucky enough to discover it. Congratulations to everyone at the CFA on forty years!
As winter sets in, the Center for the Arts heats up with many events and experiences designed to inspire, entertain, provoke and delight. We are welcoming two groups who, like the CFA, are also celebrating their 40th anniversary. The first is Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier dance companies that will perform the New England premiere of Times Bones, an enthralling work that features music by Paul Dresher and poetry by Michael Palmer. Jenkins is one of this country’s master choreographers with an astonishing body of work and we are delighted to be bringing her company to Connecticut. We are also bringing members of Sweet Honey in the Rock to Wesleyan. For four decades, this Grammy Award-winning all female African American a cappella group has brought joy to audiences around the world. Three members of Sweet Honey will be teaching workshops that will culminate in a showing on April 17. This is an extraordinary opportunity for both singers and non-singers to enter into their creation and performance practice. Other highlights of the spring include the first major solo exhibition in the U.S. by Paris-based American artist Evan Roth, whose work lives at the intersection of viral media and art, graffiti and technology. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear Ukranian Vadym Kholodenko, winner of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, play a program that includes Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, and Nikolai Medtner. Wesleyan’s Music Department will host the 28th conference of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, which will feature a series of concerts where you can immerse yourself in new music by American composers. And Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton will premiere the work Threshold Sites: Feast, which explores how we experience and enact our own corporeality, and how that impacts the way we experience our communities and our environments. At the end of the semester, you’ll have the chance to see the culminating works created by Wesleyan students, and be able to put your finger on the pulse of the current generation of art makers. Highlights include a production of Slawomir Mrozek’s Vatzlav, directed by Lily Whitsitt ’06; thesis performances in music and dance; and three weeks of thesis exhibitions by studio art majors. We have a rich and expansive spring planned for you. Please join us as often as you can.
Center for the Arts Story: I rarely was an actual student in the Center for the Arts. I didn’t take any art, dance, or music classes during my time at Wesleyan. However, that didn’t mean that those things weren’t important to me. I wanted to be involved in the arts at Wesleyan and so I made my way to the CFA job fair. It was something of a joke last year but in the four years I was at Wesleyan I spent nine days not under the employ of the CFA, and five of those days were freshman orientation. My time at the CFA was stressful, hectic, and demanding but the entire time it was a labor of love and it’s opened my eyes to completely different things. I remember my first Navaratri Festival vividly as well as my first Gamelan concert.
Specifically, I think my most striking CFA memory was having my mom and grandfather here before he passed late last year. My going to college was very special to him and I wanted him to see me at Wesleyan. During that visit we saw Jay Hoggard‘s jazz orchestra, a Gamelan, performance, as well as a Korean drumming performance. I remember it rained quite a bit that weekend but we didn’t let any of that keep us down. When I thought to myself that this might be the only opportunity for my grandfather to see what a place like Wesleyan can offer in terms of diversity and still reflect my own interests my first thought was to the CFA.
A specific show that really sticks out in my mind was Urip Sri Maeny’s last show. It was also the last performance I was managing with the CFA. I spoke to her before the show and aside from doing my normal house manager duties I told her that I was honored to be working her last performance as Artist in Residence. I told her that it was also my last show and we both hugged and teared up a bit. Seeing the rush of people that came in that night really gave me the feeling that I was at something important, not just to the Wesleyan community, but important very deeply in the hearts of the attendees.
This weekend Wesleyan hosts performances by the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra, directed by Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard; the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jazz Ensemble Coach Noah Baerman, and a much-awaited, sold-out performance by the legendary South African trumpeter, composer, producer, and activist Hugh Masekela. The weekend also features a free performance by Connecticut’s own Lee Mixashawn Rozie and his “Ghostly Trio” on Saturday night, as the final event of the 12th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend. CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talked to Mixashawn about his upcoming performance, and his personal philosophy of music and life.
Mixashawn is “more powerful each time I hear him…” (Stanley Crouch). Internationally-acclaimed composer, performer, educator, and maritime artist Lee Mixashawn Rozie has captivated and enlightened audiences in the United States and Europe for more than three decades. His incarnation as The Wave Artist draws upon a heritage of multicultural innovation that spans four centuries, and both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In applying to his arts an ancient understanding of waves in their multiple manifestations—sonic, aquatic, percussive, and harmonic—Mixashawn expresses a reverence for the unique and universal qualities that all waves possess, and celebrates the unity of existence. Mixashawn comes to Wesleyan at the invitation of Jay Hoggard, and I had the pleasure of talking with him.
Monica Tinyo: You praise music with “hemispheric principles.” What does hemispheric principles mean exactly?
Lee Mixashawn Rozie: [American music is] music of the hemisphere. So often, when you say “music of the Americas,” people assume Latin, but I always thought [of American music as] an embodiment of the whole continent. I like Latin [music], but I also like swing, rock, funk, and country, and I don’t like to be limited by those categories. The fact that we don’t think of American music as “hemispheric music,” or music of the Americas, is one of the reasons why this hemisphere is in turmoil. We don’t look at ourselves as Americans. We are the only continental people that don’t look at ourselves as such; Europeans are Europeans, Africans are Africans, but in the Americas, American means originating from the United States, not the continent. All this does is weaken us as a people.
Do you think that hemispheric music can bring us together?
What binds us all together is the indigenous aspect of spontaneity. The Objiwae’s traditional name for themselves translates to “spontaneous beings.” Spontaneity is what all music has in common, especially all jazz music. Think about American music: all the greatest musicians come from the people. What binds all this music beyond spontaneity is another definition of spontaneity, swing. “You ain’t got a thing when you ain’t got that swing.” It’s a cliche, but it holds some truth. When you swing, it’s a high state of creativity—you are not thinking, just acting. You don’t think with your right side of your brain [and allow creativity to flow]; hemispheric music is [about] not being caught up in the right side of your brain.
What will the music this weekend be like?
I consider my music omnipop, or pop from the last 500 years. For this weekend’s concert, we will be going from “Purple Haze” [Jimi Hendrix] to southern-style indigenous music to original music.
How long have you had a relationship with Wesleyan? I assume this isn’t the first time you are playing here.
Even though I never attended here, it was very prominent in shaping me musically. I used to come down here [when at Trinity College] and hang out. I would play with a lot of the students and got to know some of the professors. [Wesleyan] always affected me.
12th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend Thursday, April 18 through Saturday, April 20, 2013
Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 8pm Crowell Concert Hall FREE!
The Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra and the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble perform classic jazz compositions, including tunes by Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, Ted Dunbar, Kenny Barron, Duke Ellington, and Charles Lloyd.
Hugh Masekela Friday, April 19, 2013 at 8pm Crowell Concert Hall Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm by Professor of Music Eric Charry (SOLD OUT)
The concert will open with a performance by students of West African Drumming at Wesleyan, directed by Master Drummer and Adjunct Professor of Music Abraham Adzenyah.
A Conversation with Hugh Masekela Music and Public Life: The Role of the Artist as Activist Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 11am Crowell Concert Hall FREE!
A conversation with Hugh Masekela, moderated by Professor of Music Eric Charry.
Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra and Mixashawn’s “Ghostly Trio” Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 8pm Crowell Concert Hall FREE!
The Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra performs classic jazz compositions by Thelonious Monk, Tadd Dameron & Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Charles Mingus, and Oliver Nelson. Special guest flutist, saxophonist, percussionist, vocalist and mandolin player Mixashawn brings his “Ghostly Trio,” featuring Wesleyan Private Lessons Teacher Pheeroan akLaff on drums and Bill Arnold on percussion, plus special guest Jay Hoggard on vibraphone.
This spring at the Center for the Arts we bring you work that is of today: innovative, inquisitive and sure to surprise and engage you. Continuing our exploration of Music & Public Life, we bring you a concert of music from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello–what you might have heard both in the mansion and in the slaves’ quarters–where audiences will have the chance to experience the first glass harmonica on the Crowell Concert Hall stage. The great activist and trumpeter Hugh Masekela will bring his band to Wesleyan, and our own West African Drumming ensemble will have the chance to open for him. In dance, we bring back Andrea Miller’s Gallim Dance after their performance at the DanceMasters Weekend Showcase in 2011 brought audiences to their feet. Her piece Mama Call investigates her Spanish-Sephardic heritage, and the reprise of Pupil features the spirited music of Balkan Beat Box. In theater, we bring the master innovator Lee Breuer to campus with his newest work Glass Guignol, a compilation of texts from Tennessee Williams’ women, performed by the indomitable Maude Mitchell.
In Zilkha Gallery, Lucy and Jorge Orta’s Food-Water-Life will be on view. This is the first-ever solo show in the U.S. of work by these Paris-based artists, who stage performative events to bring attention to some of the world’s most urgent environmental and social issues. The colorful sculptural works, including a large canoe, and three parachutes, will take advantage of Zilkha’s scale, and a series of food events is being staged to more deeply connect you to the themes of the show.
As some of you may know, in addition to my work as the Press & Marketing Manager at the Center for the Arts, I am also a drummer/percussionist, composer and bandleader. Several of my projects are improvisational ensembles that feature the crossing of genre borderlines, including jazz, funk/fusion, and rock. I am always excited when Wesleyan features jazz artists—from Charles Lloyd (who was one of David Liebman’s teachers), Kenny Barron, Sherrie Maricle, Anthony Braxton, and Jay Hoggard, to Lionel Loueke, Taylor Ho Bynum and Noah Baerman—so I was happy when I heard that the summer programming committee had selected Mr. Liebman’s group as one of the evening performances this month, at the suggestion of Gene Bozzi. Mr. Liebman’s group has explored a wide variety of contemporary styles, ranging from bebop and free jazz to fusion and Brazilian.
At Wesleyan, Mr. Bozzi is a Private Lessons Teacher for percussion/drums, and the Music Department Chair at the Center for Creative Youth, a summer residential arts program here on campus. He is also the principal timpanist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (one of my previous employers). Over the weekend, Gene shared with me a bit about his work as a jazz sideman:
“I met Dave Liebman in the late 1970’s, when I was playing drums in a local Hartford group called Jazz Icarus. We were just out of college, and trying to get our ‘jazz chops’ together, but fortunate enough to score one night a week at Mad Murphy’s on Union Place. We would bring Dave in as our guest artist and give him all the money for the gig. It was like on the job training for us, we learned a lot. He would talk about his gigs with Miles Davis and Elvin Jones. I am thrilled that the Center of the Arts is bringing in artists of this caliber to perform and interact with our Center for Creative Youth students.”
I first remember hearing David Liebman’s sax playing during the spring of my junior year of college in 1998. I was studying music at Syracuse University, and graduate student/saxophonist Chris Mannigan put Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969–1974 – a Miles Davis remix album by producer/bassist Bill Laswell – on the stereo at a party. I soon sought out the original albums On the Corner (1972) and Get Up With It (1974). Mr. Liebman also appears on Miles’ live album Dark Magus, recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1974.
Writer Alan Bisbort talked to David Liebman this past Saturday morning, following Mr. Liebman’s return from a tour that had stops in Austria, Finland, Switzerland, and Italy:
Liebman thinks what makes a “classic” recording is something of a beautiful mystery.
“Look at [John Coltrane]. He recorded his Giant Steps and then played on Miles’ Kind of Blue within a month of each other. Both are totally different, both are now musical milestones. And yet, if he thought about how they’d be received he probably never would have gotten out of bed in the morning,” says Liebman laughing. “There was a lot of traffic for musicians back then. Each session was a musical challenge, but you are also making a living.”
Liebman promises a “variety of things” at the Wesleyan gig.
“It really depends on the audience, the vibe, the size and even the sound of the room. I don’t really know until I see all this,” said Liebman. “I’ll have my martini, then check out the crowd from backstage and draw up a set list. I can quote from a huge repertoire, everything from Ornette [Coleman] to [Antonio Carlos] Jobim to Cole Porter.”
You can read the rest of Alan’s article in the print edition of the Advocate on July 19 (or online here), and then head to Crowell Concert Hall that night to hear David Liebman’s group, which features guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Marko Marcinko.
On Saturday April 28, the Wesleyan Music Department and the Center for the Arts present the Jay Hoggard Quartet. CFA Intern in Arts Administration JoAnna Bourain ’12 interviewed Wesleyan Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard about his upcoming performance.
Professor Hoggard explained that he has performed with the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra both officially and unofficially for the past 20 years. Saturday’s performance is different because the Jay Hoggard Quartet will be playing his original compositions. His excitement about the performance is infectious: “Performing in Crowell Concert Hall is like performing in my living room – I feel at home there.” He explained to me, “Teaching is my day job – I am also a professional musician who performs and tours.” Jay Hoggard’s performance will be an occasion for his students, both past and present, to hear him play his own work. Mr. Hoggard is also well known in town as the charismatic band leader who takes the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra to give free performances in Middletown schools. Local families now have the chance to hear Mr. Hoggard’s music played as it should be played: in a major concert hall alongside his talented musician-friends.
Concerts like Professor Hoggard’s and other faculty productions are important because we (students) get to see how the faculty that have shaped us as artists work and perform. We are given the chance to understand how the skills and theory they have shared with us are called into practice in their own creative process. Faculty productions give us the opportunity to witness the necessary diligence and skill it takes to be a professional artist.
Perhaps, most importantly, these productions are the time in which we come to understand how impressive our faculty is and to reflect on how much knowledge we have gained from these substantial professors. Maybe I am feeling sentimental because graduation is just around the corner but faculty productions remind me of the inevitable transition from a student to a creative peer of our teachers. My confidence in making this transition is a testament to the arts faculty’s ability to share skills and information and their ability to cultivate creative students.
11th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend Jay Hoggard Quartet Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 8pm Crowell Concert Hall Tickets: $15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
As a part of the 11th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend, the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra, directed by Jay Hoggard, and the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jazz Ensemble Coach Noah Baerman, will perform an exciting free concert of classic jazz compositions on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall .