The Candelight Concert – A Wesleyan Tradition (Dec. 3)

When I was a student at Wesleyan, I was a member of both the Wesleyan Concert Choir and Wesleyan Singers.  The annual Candelight Concert was one of my favorite concerts.  I’ll never forget what it was like to have Richard Winslow, revered Professor of Music at Wesleyan, ask me to do a solo in The First Noel—how honored and delighted I was, then how I worried about it for weeks, singing my one stanza in the shower, on my way to class and for my mother over Thanksgiving Break.  I also remember the combination of terror and awe that I felt as I heard my voice, seemingly soaring up and out in front of me in that magnificent space.

This Saturday, December 3, a group of Wesleyan students will have their turn at singing solos, in one of the world’s most popular holiday masterpieces, Handel’s Messiah, Part I.  Artist in Residence and University Organist Ronald Ebrecht and the Wesleyan Singers have been preparing for this ambitious choral work for months. Mr. Ebrecht, the new Director of the Wesleyan Singers, will conduct a chorus of 26 voices, accompanied on the organ by one of Wesleyan’s most versatile and ubiquitous graduate students, Brian Parks.  The evening opens with a beautiful piece from Quatre Motets by Maurice Duruflé (Mr. Ebrecht is one of the foremost authorities on Duruflé, and is his first biographer).

Ron concludes his program notes with: “We hope that its message of beauty and peace and Handel’s magic transcends its origins and reaches each of you, as it has our group who come from around the globe and every religion or none.”

(Ron told me that they will be singing the first piece from the aisles with the lights out!).  It’s sure to be a stunning performance.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Candlelight Concert
Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 7pm

Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street
Featured soloists will include Naakai Addy, Connor Bennion, Emma Daniels, Maggie Feldman-Piltch, Tess Jonas, Paulina Jones-Torregrosa, Chloe Lalonde, Chun Kit Ng, Alan Rodi, Borworn Satayopas, and Jeremy Senie.

Big Weekend at the CFA (Nov. 18-19)

Eugene O'Neill, Cape Cod, 1922

I was one of the lucky people to have a ticket for The Great God Brown last night, the Theater Department’s production directed by Associate Professor Yuriy Kordonskiy. I can tell you it’s a massive undertaking in which an extraordinary ensemble of our top student actors explore the duality of personalities: our struggles between indulgence and restraint; who people expect us to be and who we truly are; our rational and irrational selves.  All played out on an inventive, flexible set that is dramatically lit to move the action forward.  As of this writing, there are still tickets for the Saturday matinee.

The Great God Brown
By Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Yuriy Kordonskiy
Designed by Jack Carr, Marcela Oteiza, and Leslie Weinberg

Wednesday, November 16 through Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8pm
Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 2pm & 8pm
CFA Theater
$8 general public; $5 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $4 Wesleyan students

Bebe Miller Company: "History"

The Dance Department and Center for the Arts welcome Bebe Miller Company to the Patricelli ’92 Theater this weekend for three performances. Bebe is a master contemporary dance choreographer who has influenced the work of numerous dance makers who have worked with her over the years. In her newest work, History, she asks the question: how are dances made and how can we give our audiences a window into our creative process? Audiences coming to the ’92 will be invited into an installation and then engage in a performance by veteran company members Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones.  In Bebe’s words:  “Dance works are made of a complex mix of ideas, physical practice, forgetting, remembering, minor epiphanies and daily discoveries, joined together piece-by-piece in the evolving circumstance of creative research over time. [History is] an archeological dig into our continuously evolving manner of asking questions about people, relationships, and the culture in which we live.” She’s collaborated with long-time dramaturg, Talvin Wilks, and video artist (and Wes alum!) Lily Skove, in the making of the work.  Wesleyan audiences will be invited to give Bebe feedback about the work in a Q&A session following each performance.

Bebe Miller Company: “History
Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8pm
Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 2pm & 8pm
Patricelli ’92 Theater
Pre-performance talk with dance scholar Debra Cash on Friday at 7:15pm, Memorial Chapel
$23 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Joshua Roman. Photo by Jeremy Sawatzky.

Finally, tomorrow night, you’ll have the opportunity to see cello virtuoso, Joshua Roman, at Crowell Concert Hall.  Because of his charismatic presence, at age 27 he’s already been dubbed a “classical rock star” by the press. He was the principal cellist for the Seattle Symphony at the young age of 22 and since then has earned a national reputation for performing a wide range of repertoire with an absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. This year he was named a 2011 TED Fellow, joining a select group of Next Generation innovators of unusual accomplishments with the potential to positively affect the world.  You really have to hear this young man live to understand his power…and you can see what Yo-Yo Ma had to say about him here

Joshua Roman
Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Pre-performance talk at 7:15pm by Julie Ribchinsky, Wesleyan Private Lessons Teacher
$22 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Hope to see you this weekend.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

After the Storm: Celebrating Alvin Lucier (Nov. 4-6)

Despite the power outages earlier in the week, and fallen trees and branches in the Center for the Arts, we are still preparing to welcome artists and scholars from around the world to Wesleyan this weekend to explore the work of Alvin Lucier. Alvin has been the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music at Wesleyan for over four decades. At eighty, he is as prolific as ever, and all of us who have been working on the events in his honor have so appreciated getting to know the depth of the impact of this magnificent man. It is fitting that the festival is scheduled in conjunction with Wesleyan’s Homecoming/Family Weekend, as several thousand of our undergraduate and graduate students have been influenced by Alvin over the years.

Perhaps no one has come to know more about Alvin than Andrea Miller-Keller who has expertly and lovingly curated an exhibition that opens this Saturday at the Center for the Arts Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. You may know Andrea from the nearly thirty years she spent at the Wadsworth Atheneum where she was the founding curator of MATRIX gallery.  Alvin Lucier (and His Artist Friends) is the first exhibition to explore the breadth of his work in a gallery context. It’s a broad and colorful overview of his nearly six-decade career, featuring seventeen of his major works through audio presentations, performance videos, scores and archival memorabilia. A special section includes both a presentation of Alvin’s landmark 1969 piece, I Am Sitting in a Room and an exploration of its widespread influence on other artists over the past four decades. Andrea also examines the sources of inspiration and exchange of ideas among Alvin and his some of his artist-friends, including Sol LeWitt, John Ashbery, John Cage and others.  One of my favorite films in the exhibit is George Manupelli’s Dr. Chicago trilogy that premiered from 1968 to 1971, featuring Alvin in the title role.

An installation that is sure to fascinate and delight is the tribute to Alvin’s 1968 masterpiece, Chambers, organized by Ron Kuivila, chair of Wesleyan’s Music Department and a former student of Alvin’s. Over forty Wesleyan alums recorded environmental sounds following Alvin’s instructions and submitted mp3 files along with a small resonant object into which the sounds will be played.  The objects, some fanciful, some ordinary, are displayed on long tables and include a toaster, a shotgun shell, a flute, a vase, and a sauce pot, among many others.  Patrons to the gallery will have the opportunity to lean in and listen to each object.

Kuivila has also staged a “flash-mob” for current Wesleyan students who have created their own Chambers works that will begin on Foss Hill at 1:45pm and process to the gallery in time for the opening.

So please join us for the festivities that begin on Friday at 12:15pm in the CFA Hall and continue through the final Tribute Concert at 2pm on Sunday afternooon. Visit to see the full schedule.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Buy Three, Get One Free!
Call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355 to purchase subscription packages for the Alvin Lucier Celebration, which include all four concerts: $36 general public; $30 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty & staff, non-Wesleyan students; $18 Wesleyan students.

Stephanie Elliott discusses performance poet Joy Harjo

The concert by Joy Harjo with Larry Mitchell in Crowell Concert Hall has been canceled. The Wesleyan University Box Office will be in contact with ticket holders regarding refunds.

Joy Harjo. Photo by Karen Kuehn.

Wesleyan University Press has just published a fantastic new collection of poems by the powerful poet, Joy HarjoSoul Talk, Song Language has been on the table in my office for the past few weeks, in anticipation of her visit to Wesleyan. I can’t tell you the number of people who have come in for meetings who’ve said, “I love Joy Harjo!  Is she coming?”

We’re delighted to have Ms. Harjo and her longtime musical partner, rock guitarist and Grammy award-winning producer Larry Mitchell, perform at Crowell Concert Hall next week. Click here to visit her YouTube Channel.

I sat down with Stephanie Elliott from WesPress to talk about Ms. Harjo and her work. Ms. Elliott said: “[Joy] Harjo’s work is a search for truth—a questioning of purpose and identity—as much as it is an expression of beauty. Her poetry embodies a reconstruction of the tribal past, and is cause for reflection on the continuing confrontation between Indigenous and Anglo civilizations.”  When I asked her why Ms. Harjo’s poetry is so important and relevant today, she said:  “With projects like Brazil’s proposed Belo Monte dam and the development Alberta’s Athabasca oil sands threatening indigenous people in calamitous ways, [Joy] Harjo’s artistic expressions are especially timely.”

Joy Harjo’s performance invokes spoken word, storytelling, and song—punctuated by her own mean jazz saxophone. Her character-driven narratives are inspired by the traditions of her people as well as by her observations from around the globe.  According to Ms. Elliott, “her work is about healing, demonstrating how poetry, music, storytelling, and theater can bring new understanding to our lives.”  The music is jazzy and soulful and punctuates her insightful poetry in surprising ways.

Here’s hoping you’ll join us next Friday for this special treat.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

AnDa Union: A Band That Will Leave You Breathless (Sept. 23)

Music concerts at the Center for the Arts are programmed by the CFA’s Concert Committee, made up of faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students in Music, and CFA staff. We are so delighted to be opening the Crowell Concert Series with the magnificent AnDa Union, a group of young musicians from Mongolia whose virtuosity and artistry will, quite simply, leave you breathless.

Andrew Colwell, a PhD student in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan whose research focuses on Mongolian music sent me a ringing endorsement after seeing them at a recent stop on their U.S. tour:

“This friendly bunch of established musicians … were a hit with the crowd, who clapped and clapped for more throat-singing, horse-head fiddle playing, and singing about what matters most: nature, horses, your beloved, family bonds, and heritage. Few bands from the Mongolian world of music–which also encompasses independent Outer Mongolia and parts of Russian Siberia–commune with their nomadic roots in the innovative and all-encompassing ways that this highly flexible, ten member band does on the international stage. To boot, few bands from the distant Mongolian grasslands of Inner Asia even make it out as far as Middletown, Connecticut.”

The tour has been organized by a group of major research universities in partnership with Arts Midwest and the Chinese Ministry of Culture.  Wesleyan is the only liberal arts college on the tour!

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

AnDa Union
New England Premiere
Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall

Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm by Andrew Colwell
$22 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, and non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Dewey Dell at Wesleyan: A U.S. Debut (September 9, 10 & 16)

Dewey Dell
Dewey Dell (left to right): Teodora Castellucci, Demetrio Castellucci, Agata Castellucci, and Eugenio Resta. Cesena, Italy. April 2009.

In the summer of 2009, Associate Professor and Chair of the Theater Department, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, attended a festival of contemporary European performance at Centrale Fies, a venue that invests in the creation of new performance work located just outside of Trento, in Northern Italy.  There, she discovered Dewey Dell and was so taken by their work, their process and sheer talent, that she wanted to find a way to bring them to Wesleyan for an extended residency.

Formed in 2007 by Teodora, Demetrio, Agata Castellucci and Eugenio Resta, Dewey Dell’s founders grew up as artistic collaborators, sharing the important formative experience of the Stoa, a rhythmic movement and philosophy school of the Sociètas Raffaello Sanzio based in Cesena, Italy. The name Dewey Dell is a tribute to the young girl in William Faulkner’s 1930 novel, As I Lay Dying.

Nascimento wrote to me upon her return from Italy:

“Dewey Dell is the strongest representative of what is most innovative and sophisticated in the new generation of European stage artists. They perfectly integrate the actor’s bodies, visual elements, and soundscape to create performances that may at first resemble pure dance, but ultimately possess a dramaturgical treatment that brings them closest to theater. Through the exploration of themes ranging from an Eastern perspective on raw animal energy to an abstract interpretation of Western political history in the figure of Richard the Lionheart, their performances are at the same time nostalgic and deeply marked by post-modern art. Visually stunning and musically powerful, above all their pieces create a truly arresting experience for the audience.”

The Theater Department and Center for the Arts joined forces with Ellen Nerenberg, Professor of Italian and Chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literature, to create a two-week residency for the company that includes the presentation of à elle vide, the earliest work in their repertoire, and Cinquanta Urlanti Quaranta Ruggenti Sessanta Stridenti, their most recent work.  In between the two performances, the company members will be visiting with five different Italian classes and conducting a seven-day workshop on their generative process with theater and dance students.  At the same time, the members of Dewey Dell, who are close in age to Wesleyan students, will be experiencing life on an American campus.

Nascimento says, “my objective for their residency is to allow for a true exchange between Dewey Dell and Wesleyan students; the company is not only teaching a workshop, but also attending classes, eating at USDAN, socializing with students, meeting as many members of the Wesleyan community as possible; in short: establishing relationships and experiencing the university as maybe exchange/international students would.”

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Dewey Dell: à elle vide
United States Premiere
Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 8pm
Patricelli ’92 Theater
$10 general public; $8 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students

Dewey Dell: Cinquanta Urlanti 
Quaranta Ruggenti Sessanta Stridenti
United States Premiere
Friday, September 16, 2011 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$18 general public; $15 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Fall events include U.S. & New England Premieres, Navaratri Festival, Lucier Celebration

Center for the Arts Fall 2011At a time when so many of us are turning to YouTube to see performances by our favorite artists, we can lose sight of what it’s like to experience live performance. This fall, the Center for the Arts offers you a wide range of performances and exhibitions that will connect you with some of the brightest minds in contemporary art-making, transport you to foreign lands, and inspire you to think about the world in new ways—and the performers will never be more than 69 feet away!

We recognize that it has become increasingly difficult to classify a work as strictly music, dance, theater, visual art, or film as more artists are blurring the boundaries among disciplines. So we have merged our visiting artist performances into a single Performing Arts Series. We hope this will lead you to cross the boundaries of your own comfort zone and discover new artists and art forms.

Highlights of the fall season include the American premiere of the ground-breaking Italian movement theater collective Dewey Dell and the return of Philadelphia’s Rennie Harris Puremovement, that has been a trailblazer in taking hip hop forms from the street to the concert stage for nearly twenty years. We’ll also host two New England premieres: the astoundingly brilliant throat-singers and musicians from Inner Mongolia, AnDa Union and, continuing our collaboration with the College of the Environment, we’ll welcome Water is Rising, a breathtaking performance by a group of 35 dancers and musicians from the Pacific Island atolls, the first islands predicted to be submerged due to climate change. In November, the Music Department and CFA join forces to celebrate Alvin Lucier, internationally renowned composer who has just retired after serving on our faculty for four decades. Alvin Lucier: A Celebration features a major symposium, concert series, film screenings and an exhibition curated by Andrea Miller-Keller.

With performances and exhibitions by visiting artists, students and faculty, there is an extraordinary amount of good work to see at Wesleyan this fall, with 60% offered free to the public or at ticket prices that make us one of the most affordable venues in the state. Tickets are on sale now online. Starting at 10am on Tuesday, August 16, you can call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355 to receive a 10% discount on your purchase of four or more Performing Arts Series events (and if you buy six or more “Performing Arts Series” events, you’ll save 15%!) Starting August 16, you will also be able to buy subscription packages for both the 35th annual Navaratri Festival (a 15% savings) as well as the Alvin Lucier Celebration (a 25% savings!)

Please join us. We appreciate that you believe, as we do, in the power of the arts to add meaning to our lives and to remind us of the capacity of the human spirit. Thanks for making Wesleyan’s CFA your center for the arts.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Ballet from Boise, July 21 & 22

Trey McIntyre Project dancer Brett Perry. Photograph by David Harry Stewart. Copyright Trey McIntyre Project. All rights reserved.

It’s not often that the CFA features ballet, but when we do, we focus on companies who are contemporary, whose vibe and energy is of today.  Trey McIntyre Project is that company – they burst onto the scene only four years ago, and since then have become a touring sensation, traveling the country, and now the world, at least 22 weeks of the year.  And when they are not on the road, they are at their home in Boise, Idaho.

McIntyre is a choreographer who came out of the Houston Ballet and then became a free-lance choreographer working with many of this country’s leading ballet companies.  When it was time for him to start his own company, he didn’t decide to base it in New York or San Francisco – he decided instead to intentionally become engaged with a Western city who needed an arts infusion:  Boise, Idaho.  As we work with our students here at Wesleyan on how to use the arts as a vehicle for community engagement and social change, we welcome a company that is doing just that: dancing in hospital cafeterias, factory lounges and schools, demystifying ballet and growing an audience that now considers the Trey McIntyre Project to be their own.

Trey McIntyre Project is not only engaging with their home community, they are also engaging with the world.  The company was chosen by the U.S. Department of State and Brooklyn Academy of Music as one of four American dance companies to participate in DanceMotion USA and will tour to China, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam in spring 2012 serving as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador.

Tonight and tomorrow night at Wesleyan, they’ll dance to music by Roy Orbison and the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band – they are an intensely physical, joyous company in which each dancer is allowed to bring their personality onto the stage. Come and join us!   And P.S., the CFA Theater is air conditioned.

Trey McIntyre Project
Thursday, July 21 & Friday, July 22, 2011 at 8pm

CFA Theater
Center for the Arts

Wesleyan University
$22 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff; $10 students

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Marc Bamuthi Joseph at the CFA: “If You Surrender to the Air, You Can Ride It”

Marc Bamuthi JosephWhen I first saw Marc Bamuthi Joseph at New York’s Under the Radar Festival in 2005, I was struck by the fact that Marc is a spoken word artist who uses his whole body, his whole being to speak.  He is one of the few spoken word artists whose poetry is matched by his capacity as a dancer and mover, so that his body can serve as either a metaphor for his words, punctuate his words or even fight his words.

He is truly a hybrid artist and activist: a Broadway veteran, a National Slam Poetry Champion, a featured artist in Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and founder of The Living Word Project, a company based in Oakland, California that creates verse-based work that is spoken through the body, illustrated by visual and sonic scores, and in communication with the important social issues and movements of the immediate moment.

In Marc’s words:

“I experience God as a verb, not a noun. I experience art in the same way. The music doesn’t live on a flat disc, it lives in the thing it does to your hips. So it is with my writing. I compose for embodiment. I write words with the intent to live it through movement. At the end of Song of Solomon, [Toni] Morrison writes, ‘…if you surrender to the air, you can ride it.’ If words are my air, dance is my surrender. In the intersection of movement and text, the collapsed space for breath to speak is like a different kind of oxygen. I am intellectually piqued by the physical journey it takes to meet the spiritual place I wish to occupy.”

Tonight at the CFA Theater, audiences will have the opportunity to see excerpts of three of his major works, Word Becomes Flesh (2003); the break/s (2008); and his newest work, red, black and GREEN: a blues (2011).  Hope you can join us!

Marc Bamuthi Joseph: The Spoken World
Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 8pm

CFA Theater
Center for the Arts

Wesleyan University
$15 general public; $13 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff; $10 students

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Jazz Great Kenny Barron’s Trio in Crowell Concert Hall

We are delighted to welcome the magnificent jazz pianist Kenny Barron back to Wesleyan tonight with the Kenny Barron Trio (Barron will be joined by Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and Lee Pearson on drums). Barron was here in the eighties when his older brother, distinguished jazz saxophonist, Bill Barron was on the Wesleyan faculty.  Bill Barron arrived at Wesleyan in 1975 and started the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra.  He served as a distinguished member of the music department faculty, as well as its chair, until his death in 1989.

Kenny Barron is quite simply one of those jazz greats you need to make a point of hearing live…just last year, the National Endowment for the Arts inducted him into its prestigious Jazz Masters class of 2010.  In his words:  “I don’t think of myself necessarily as an innovator. . . But what I have contributed to jazz is keeping a commitment to the honesty of the music. I never do anything that’s too slick, and I play what I feel. I believe in having fun, which took a long time to discover—to not take myself so seriously.”  As a composer, arranger and bandleader, the Philadelphia native has spent five decades at the forefront of the jazz piano aristocracy starting out as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s Quintet from 1962 to 1966.   An in-demand sideman in his early days on the jazz scene playing with, among many others, Chet Baker, Ron Carter, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson, it’s his maturation as a leader that has brought him well-deserved recognition as a true jazz master.

Barron is also known as a transformative teacher (he’s currently on the faculty at Julliard). In fact, those of you who know the work of Middletown’s own Noah Baerman, may not know that his mentor and teacher at Rutgers University was Kenny Barron (look for Noah’s tribute concert to Barron at the Russell House on October 16).

Barron’s visit to Wesleyan is made possible by the Center for the Arts partnership with the Capitol Region Education Council’s Center for Creative Youth, a program for gifted and talented students in the arts.  They’ll be cheering in the audience tonight.

Kenny Barron Trio
Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Wesleyan University
$20 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff; $10 students

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts