Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talks to Mark Slobin about “Music & Public Life” (Nov. 8-9)

The Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns annually tackles subjects as diverse as the course catalogue at Wesleyan, from the politics of oil to issues of race in the 18th century.  This year, the Shasha Seminar explores current trends in the role of music in public life, locally, nationally and internationally. CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talked with Mark Slobin, Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music at Wesleyan, who is leading the seminar this year (November 8-9). 

The Shasha Seminar this year begins with a keynote address by Anthony Seeger on Thursday, November 8, entitled “Can We Safeguard Disappearing Musical Traditions? And if We Can, Should We?” Mr. Seeger, a renowned author and professor at UCLA, has acted as Executive Producer of Smithsonian Folkways label, and comes from a long line of prolific folk musicians. He has also worked for forty years with the Suya people in the Amazon rainforest. His wide-ranging experience informs a singular knowledge of music and its impact.  Beyond his work in Amazonian music and record production, he has participated in international frameworks including committees of UNESCO.

Thursday evening’s keynote address will be followed by two lively performances that represent the many facets of the Middletown community: the contemporary gospel group, the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church‘s Unity Choir [under the direction of Wesleyan University Adjunct Professor of Music and vibraphonist Jay Hoggard], and the well-established string-band, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem [featuring Rani Arbo on fiddle and guitar, Andrew Kinsey on bass, banjo, and ukulele, Anand Nayak ’96 on electric and acoustic guitars, and Scott Kessel ’88 on percussion].

On Friday, November 9, Ethel Raim, the Artistic Director of New York City’s Center for Traditional Music and Dance, will be speaking. Professor Slobin explains “the Center has been helping communities develop their own musical and artistic representation on stage for over forty years. They are not concert managers, but rather community developers. They produce these extraordinary groups out of collaborations with communities.” The musical groups showcased Friday night in Fayerweather Beckham Hall will be Merita Halili & The Raif Hyseni Orchestra, an Albanian music ensemble led by Raif Hyseni, and La Cumbiamba eNeYé, a Colombian ensemble led by Martin Vejarano. The Friday events also include two panels with members of the Middletown and Wesleyan communities, as well as other experts in the field.

The unique structure of this year’s seminar, unlike seminars in other years, incorporates panels and discussions along with workshops and concerts because, as Professor Slobin explains, “if you are going to get involved and engage with music, you have to do it yourself.”

The Shasha Seminar is an extension of Wesleyan’s year-long initiative Music & Public Life. Professor Slobin explains, “Music and Public Life is a program that was initiated by Wesleyan Vice President and Provost Rob Rosenthal, who thought that the large and impressive music offerings and faculty, along with the immense amount of music on campus, would be a great focus for a year-long exploration. This year-long initiative, and more specifically the Shasha Seminar, is organized around the idea that music engages on so many different levels. Music works on the local level, showcased in the concerts of Wesleyan and Middletown groups, [while simultaneously] working on a more national scale.” This is exemplified in local venues blending into the larger American music umbrella. “Music is also transnational. There is an undeniable transnational flow of capital, people and music. More than anything really, music cuts across boundaries of race, class, gender and national identity.”

Music & Public Life provides a year-long exploration of music through many lenses. Please join us for the Shasha Seminar events today and Friday, and mark your calendar for next Wednesday’s talk by New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff [November 14].

The 11th Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns

Keynote Address at 7:30pm by Anthony Seeger—“Can We Safeguard Disappearing Musical Traditions? And if We Can, Should We?”

Performances following the keynote address by Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, and the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church’s Unity Choir 

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7:30pm

Crowell Concert Hall
, 50 Wyllys Avenue

Before the keynote address, there will be a welcome by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rob Rosenthal, as well as a musical invocation by the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble, directed by Professor of Music Sumarsam and Artist in Residence I.M. Harjito.

Merita Halili & The Raif Hyseni Orchestra & La Cumbiamba eNeYé
Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8:30pm

Fayerweather Beckham Hall
, 45 Wyllys Avenue
FREE! Tickets required.
Call 860-685-3355 or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office for free tickets.

A Talk by Ben Ratliff of The New York Times

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 4:15pm

Daltry Room (Music Rehearsal Hall 003)
, 60 Wyllys Avenue

Ben Ratliff has been a jazz and pop critic for The New York Times since 1996. He has written three books: The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (2008); Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (2007) a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings (2002).