Center for the Arts Stories: Monica Tinyo ’13

Monica Tinyo '13. Photo by Natalie Hession.
Monica Tinyo ’13. Photo by Natalie Hession.

Favorite Course: Museum Chronotopes with Center for the Humanities Fellow Lucien Gomoll

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!

Monica M. Tinyo ’13 on the MiddletownRemix Festival (May 11)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 discusses the MiddletownRemix Festival, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm. All festival events are free, and will take place rain or shine. The Festival Information Center will be located at 575 Main Street, Middletown, CT (in front of It’s Only Natural Market). Click here to download the MiddletownRemix Festival Schedule and Map (opens as a pdf).

middletownremix logo_revisedThis Saturday, MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound will celebrate the city’s acoustic identity with four world premieres of works commissioned for the festival, three live DJ sets, two commissioned art/sound installations, a laptop orchestra, a flash mob dance, food trucks, graffiti art, improv sketches, and a gallery walk.

MiddletownRemix is part of Wesleyan’s year-long initiative Music & Public Life, as well as part of the Center for the Arts’ greater initiative to foster community engagement using the arts as a catalyst. Not since Middletown Dances in September 2005 on Main Street, and the Feet to the Fire Festival in May 2008 at Veterans Park, has there been such an opportunity for Wesleyan students and the greater Middletown community to collaborate and celebrate the space they share. Gabriela de Golia ’13 explains this collaboration is exactly why “the Wesleyan Student Assembly’s Middletown-Wesleyan Relations Committee is so excited for this festival. For a whole afternoon, students, residents, families and renowned artists will be able to experience the artistic culture of Wesleyan and Middletown, and celebrate the work of talented community members. This is a special chance for the University and town to come together and engage with one another on a more personal and interactive level than is usually possible.”

The MiddletownRemix project stemmed from the interest of Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen in UrbanRemix, a project created by Georgia Tech composer Jason Freeman and his collaborators. The project includes a smartphone application and website, and allows people to easily record, geographically tag and share sounds from everyday life. Over the past year, campus and community members have been uploading sounds that characterize Middletown. After monthly meetings with Middletown’s arts stakeholders group, a committee of 25 dedicated community members and members of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, WESU 88.1 FM, and Green Street Arts Center together shaped the MiddletownRemix festival, including partnering on a successful grant proposal to the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

This Saturday’s festival will premiere a total of eight commissioned works from Middletown artists, Wesleyan students and faculty; including “MTRX” (2012) by Jason Freeman, which will be performed by Wesleyan University’s Toneburst Laptop & Electronic Arts Ensemble, directed by Paula Matthusen, at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm at the Green Street Arts Center (located at 51 Green Street).

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to listen and dance with your neighbors. There will be a flash mob dance at 2:30pm on Main Street between Liberty and Ferry Street. It’s not too late to learn the flash mob dance, which is open to all levels of dancers. Learn the dance on YouTube here and perform it as part of the flash mob on May 11 (participants should plan to arrive at the Festival Information Center, located at 575 Main Street in front of It’s Only Natural Market, at 2pm, and then perform the dance at 2:30pm).

For more information about six of the commissioned MiddletownRemix festival artists, check out these interviews from the Creative Campus blog:

Aletta Brady ’15 talks to DJ Arun Ranganathan
Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to Ronald Kuivila
Aletta Brady ’15 talks to Joe McCarthy and Peter Albano
Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to Jason Freeman
Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to Marc Pettersen
Aletta Brady ’15 talks to Kelsey Siegel ’13

Integrating the Local, the Continental and the International: Celebrating World-Renowned Artists at the 12th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend

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

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

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

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

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.

Nine Virtuosi and a Glass Harmonica on Crowell Concert Series (Feb. 1)

Director of the Center for the Arts Pamela Tatge discusses the New England premiere of the concert “Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello” with Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce.

Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce played in an extraordinary concert in the summer of 2011 at the Caramoor International Festival—it brought to the stage the Baroque instruments that would have been played in the mansion at Monticello (harpsichord, Baroque cello and violin) and the fife, fiddle and banjo that would have been played in the slaves’ quarters.  It was an astonishing program, curated by Paul Woodiel, a three time winner of the New England Fiddle Contest and a former private lessons teacher at Wesleyan (and great colleague of ours).

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton. Image by Bill Steber Photography.

On Friday night, Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello comes to Wesleyan! Neely Bruce will give a pre-concert talk at 7:15pm and walk the audience through the program (which includes works by Corelli, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart; martial music from Camp Dupont; and traditional songs and tunes including “Barbara Allen” and “The Gal I Left Behind Me”). There’s a fantastic moment after intermission where two groups will play the same tune, Haydn’s “The White Cockade”: one group will play it on harpsichord, Baroque cello and violin; the other on the fife, fiddle and banjo. The concert brings a number of virtuosi to the Crowell Concert Hall stage in addition to Mr. Bruce and Mr. Woodiel, among them: Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton (Neely tells me that 24 year-old Blind Boy doesn’t believe music exists after 1941, the year Jelly Roll Morton died!); Mazz Swift, a very cool violin/vox/freestyle composition artist who is also an accomplished singer and Julliard-trained violinist who has performed with the likes of Kanye West and Jay-Z; and Jennifer Hope Wills, who for nearly four years won audiences’ hearts as Christine in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

The concert also features Dennis James and the first-ever appearance of a glass harmonica on the Crowell Concert Hall stage. Mr. James has recreated the instrument originally designed by Benjamin Franklin. We all know what it’s like to dip a finger in a glass and circle it around the rim until a sound is formed. That’s the operating principle of the glass harmonica, whereby spinning glass disks (bowls) on a common spindle are configured with the lower notes (larger disks) to the left, and higher notes (smaller disks) to the right. The shaft is turned by means of a foot pedal (now motorized), and the sound made by touching the rims of the bowls with moistened fingers. By the way, you are invited to attend a free lecture/demonstration on Saturday morning at 11am in Crowell Concert Hall, where you can see and learn about the instruments played in the concert [fiddle, fife, banjo, harpsichord, and glass harmonica] up close.

This anchor concert to our year-long exploration of Music and Public Life is absolutely not to be missed.

Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
New England Premiere

Friday, February 1, 2013 at 8pm

Crowell Concert Hall

$24 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Pre-performance talk at 7:15pm by Professor of Music Neely Bruce

Lecture/Demonstration: Instruments at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 11am
Crowell Concert Hall

Spring Events include World, U.S. & New England Premieres

Gallim Dance performs February 8 & 9, 2013 as part of the Performing Arts Series.

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.

Spring is also when you have the chance to put your finger on the pulse of the next generation of contemporary artists: an evening of work by seniors in dance, three theater thesis productions, four weeks of thesis exhibitions in Zilkha, and two solid months of music recitals will give audiences an overview of the art that is being generated at Wesleyan.

So please join us! We look forward to welcoming you.

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

Monica M. Tinyo ’13 on “John Cage & Public Life” (Dec. 7-8)


John Cage at Wesleyan, 1988

John Cage turns one hundred this year, and Wesleyan is celebrating his life and work via John Cage & Public Life, which focuses on Cage’s understanding of music as a social process, and includes a lecture this afternoon by Richard Kostelanetz, the noted literary artist and author of the first biography of John Cage; performances of Cage’s work tonight and Saturday; and the “John Cage Writes” exhibition in Olin Memorial Library, which focuses on the five books by Cage that were published by Wesleyan University Press. CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 spoke with some of the people involved in the celebration.

Cage was as profound as he was prolific, never following the normal course of action or thought. Critics explain that Cage was “not a composer but an inventor of genius”  (Cage’s mentor and prolific composer, Arnold Schoenberg). He was “a master of several arts, a slave to none” (Richard Kostelanetz, The New York Times Book Review). “No American has caused more disturbances or astonishments than John Cage” (Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker).

Rather than try to summarize Cage’s artistic and personal character, here’s a statement from the man himself:

“I once asked Aragon, the historian, how history was written. He said, ‘You have to invent it.’ When I wish as now to tell of critical incidents, persons, and events that have influenced my life and work, the true answer is all of the incidents were critical, all of the people influenced me, everything that happened and that is still happening influences me” (Autobiography, 1990).

Neely Bruce, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music and American Studies at Wesleyan, and a composer and close friend of Cage, explains that, “other composers I have known personally have had a great impact on me. But the influence of my friends and mentors is not so pervasive as the influence of Cage.”

The events this weekend focus on the composer’s understanding of music as a social process and are part of Music & Public Life, a year-long campus and community-wide exploration. Ronald Kuivila, University Professor of Music at Wesleyan, explains:

“This cycle of performances began at the Shasha Seminar with a performance of Lecture on the Weather (1975). The introduction of that piece shares his understanding of the social import of his work. He comments, ‘We have lost confidence in one another. We could regain it tomorrow by simply changing our minds.’ He concludes with ‘More than anything else we need communion with everyone’. Thoreau said: ‘The best communion men have is in silence.’ Of course ‘silence’ for Cage means a silencing of the ego that can occur by giving oneself over to sound.  In his thinking, that devotion of attention is the most fundamental musical act.”

Etcetera, HPSCHD, and Song Books provide a wonderful cross-section of the varied nature of the ‘communions’ Cage composed.  Etcetera is a reconfiguration of the social authority of the orchestra. The piece creates an orchestra power, effaced in favor of obligation and commitment, where the need for organization is recognized but not allowed to be a virtue in itself.”

HPSCHD was co-composed with Lejaren Hiller, one of the great pioneers of computer music (as well as one of Neely Bruce’s principal teachers).  The piece consists of a super-abundance of musical material. It was composed as an embrace of this ‘wastefulness’ by creating a situation of such profusion that every participant’s experience would be unique.”

Etcetera and HPSCHD are ‘utopian’ in their presentation of an alternative social order and can be regarded as almost a kind of ‘sacred music.’ Song Books, in contrast, is as often profane as sacred.  Songs are sung, food is cooked, games are played—hawks cry, fire burns—Cage himself described the piece as almost a bordello that you would be afraid to call art.”

Presented in conjunction with the John Cage & Public Life events this weekend, Special Collections & Archives at Olin Memorial Library has organized an exhibition, John Cage Writes, which includes selections from Cage’s papers related to the five books he wrote that were published by Wesleyan University Press and examples of artists’ books influenced by Cage’s work.

Wesleyan University Press had a long and fruitful relationship with Cage. Neely Bruce recalls that Jose de la Torre Bueno, the senior editor of Wesleyan University Press, worked very closely with Cage as editor of Silence and all of the other wonderful Wesleyan University Press books by Cage. Cage went so far as to say, “I wrote the words but Bill Bueno made the books.”

Suzanna Tamminen, Director of Wesleyan University Press, explains:

“Wesleyan University Press was interested in Cage even before he arrived here. When Cage wrote to the press proposing a book that would be printed, in part, on transparent sheets, the director sent a memo to the editor asking whether or not one could take this proposal seriously. The editor sagely responded, ‘This is John Cage, and I think we should take everything he proposes quite seriously.’ I think this encapsulates the open-mindedness that, even then, distinguished Wesleyan University Press from other presses and stood out to Cage in the first place.”

Please join us this weekend in celebrating John Cage, whose influence echoes across the campus and the globe. After this weekend, continue to be inspired by Cage through the free John Cage Prepared Piano smartphone app [created by musician Jack Freudenheim ’79, working in conjunction with Larson Associates and the John Cage Trust], downloadable here.

Richard Kostelanetz Lecture: John Cage’s Greatest Hits!

Friday, December 7 at 4:30pm
CFA Hall

Etcetera & HPSCHD
Friday, December 7 at 8pm
A progressive concert beginning in Crowell Concert Hall and continuing in Fayerweather Beckham Hall
$4 Wesleyan students, $5 all others

Song Books by John Cage

Saturday, December 8 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall

John Cage Writes
Now through Sunday, March 10, 2013
Olin Library, 252 Church Street, Middletown
Click here for library hours

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).

Monica M. Tinyo ’13 interviews Noah Baerman (Nov. 2)

This Friday, renowned jazz pianist and composer, and Wesleyan University Jazz Ensemble Coach, Noah Baerman will present a free concert entitled “Jazz with a Conscience” at the Green Street Arts Center as part of Wesleyan’s year-long celebration Music & Public Life. Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talked with him about this upcoming show.

Noah Baerman

“The concert presents music without lyrics, as vehicles for social consciousness,” Mr. Baerman explains. While two pieces will have vocal accompaniment by Jessica Best ’14, “the goal is to draw attention to instrumental music as emotionally resonant and capable for social consciousness and change.”

“People see the most direct connection between music and social causes in vocal music, thinking in terms of lyrics that are political in nature. Although I do some of that as well, my primary medium is instrumental jazz. The challenge is to evoke the same [emotional resonance of a piece with lyrics] as a piece without lyrics. Although in some ways it’s a challenge, it is also an opportunity. The reason I work with instrumental jazz is not because I dislike working with singers or writing lyrics. It is that a lot of what I am trying to express is emotional substance that is difficult to articulate. To me, a big part of why doing music is important or relevant is to express emotions that have no other vehicle for expression.”

Mr. Baerman is also participating in the formation of a non-profit called Resonant Motion. He explains, “The premise behind it is to explore and nurture the relationship between music and social causes, personal transformation and other extra-musical content. Music can be a means of raising awareness and inspiring people about causes that aren’t themselves related to music, whether it be as simple as discussing the connected cause during a performance or in the liner notes of a recording, or something that is more involved or integrated.”

“I had an experience over the weekend that validated the [communicative power of music]. I was asked to play something at a memorial service for my aunt. I took on the task of composing a piece in her memory and honor for this event (I will also being playing it at the concert at Greet Street this Friday). I called it Ripples thinking about the ripple effect of acts that affected people several generations removed from those who came in direct contact with her. I was a little self conscious about how palatable it would be for those in attendance [who did not prefer modern jazz] but it came off very positively. I was surprised by how many people were moved by the piece. What that validated for me is how being sincerely and uninhibitedly emotional with what you are trying to communicate can break through barriers of what people believe their stylistic preferences to be. Although this seems counterintuitive in the assumption that the most direct way to communicate with someone is verbal, [music] has a capacity to reach people in a uniquely direct way.”

The Green Street Arts Center of Wesleyan University is an ideal setting for Noah Baerman’s Jazz with a Conscience. “Green Street offers an eclectic mix of events, exhibitions, classes, and workshops to a diverse population [in a] three-story, state-of-the-art educational facility that includes a sound recording studio, black-box theater, computer and media labs, and dance and art studios. [It] has grown from a collaborative spirit of Wesleyan University, the City of Middletown, the North End Action Team, and other stakeholders who recognized their community’s potential to rise up and become a beacon of change.”*

We invite you to become part of Green Street’s unique community and join us this Friday at 8pm to celebrate Noah Baerman and his trio partners, bassist Henry Lugo and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza.

*Quotation from Green Street Arts Center’s website.

Noah Baerman: Jazz With a Conscience

Friday, November 2, 2012 at 8pm
Green Street Arts Center, 51 Green Street, Middletown

Monica M. Tinyo ’13 on MiddletownRemix

CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talks about “MiddletownRemix”, which is part of “Music & Public Life”, a year-long campus and community-wide exploration celebrating and studying the sounds, words, and spirit of music.

Are we not formed, as notes of music are,
For one another, though dissimilar?

—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Technology can foster insularity and just as easily foster limitless synthesis. MiddletownRemix utilizes the synthetic faculty of technology and the internet, inviting all members of the Middletown community to share and remix the sounds of Middletown in an open, online forum. The program, part of Wesleyan’s year-long campus and community-wide exploration Music & Public Life, lets all residents express and share their experiences living in greater Middletown through one minute sound recordings that are organized by theme or location. The website brings together a perspectival spectrum of Middletown sounds to form a cohesive and collaborative record of Middletown as a place and as a creatively-charged community.

Sound bites can be posted and remixed by anyone—high school students or retirees, new residents or residents who have been in Middletown all their lives. MiddletownRemix, a subset of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s UrbanRemix program, “geo-tags,” organizes and presents every sound visually by the location of the recording as points on a map online. The creators of MiddletownRemix have made certain their website is easy to use and accessible: there is a step-by-step guide to recording and downloading sounds, a smartphone app, and by the end of this month, anyone will be able to check out an iPhone or iTouch for recording purposes from Green Street Arts Center.

I had the opportunity to talk with Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts Program Manager Erinn Roos-Brown about MiddletownRemix. Erinn explained that Music & Public Life, and specifically MiddletownRemix, was created as a celebration of music in Middletown and music as activism. MiddletownRemix acts as a creative solution that allows the Wesleyan campus and greater community to engage their surrounding environment through music in a more interactive way.

Erinn explained further that all participants of MiddletownRemix can become composers in their own right, either by documenting sound or creating new acoustic identities in mash-ups. The sound recordings and remixes ask the questions: what is music, what is Middletown, and how do the sounds and remixes reinforce or redefine communal and personal perspectives on Middletown?

Participants are challenged to think not only about the sounds around them, but also about four Middletown locations: Main Street, Middlesex Hospital, the North End neighborhood, and the Connecticut River. There are also monthly themes like “Elections” or “Emotions” that can be taken as literally or abstractly as one would like. While participants can be guided by these themes and locations, they have the flexibility to record whatever sounds they believe represent their city.

Music and Public Life has partnered with Middletown Public Schools, Green Street Arts Center, and Middletown’s arts stakeholders group to create the broader range of participants for MiddletownRemix. The DJs of Wesleyan radio station WESU 88.1 FM will air the sounds and remixes that they find the most interesting every month. At Wesleyan University specifically, MiddletownRemix is incorporated into the Music Department‘s curricula by Professor Ronald Kuivila and Assistant Professor Paula Matthusen. More broadly, Music and Public Life is incorporated into every aspect of campus life at Wesleyan, from classes to performances to colloquia.

MiddletownRemix’s year-long exploration will culminate with a community-wide celebration on Saturday, May 11, 2013, featuring the world premiere of a composition for laptop orchestra by Jason Freeman of UrbanRemix.
Listen to this week’s featured sounds and remixes, then start gathering your own sounds: sign-up, download the free app for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android phone, and start recording!

Music & Public Life
A year long campus and community-wide exploration, including concerts, lectures and discussions, symposia and colloquia.

A Star of Radio Kabul Performs at Wesleyan (September 28)

Ustad Farida Mahwash is an astonishing woman.  She was a secretary in the 1960s at Radio Kabul and someone heard her singing.  Before she knew what had happened, she was singing on the radio and soon became one of Afghanistan’s most beloved singers.  In the 1970s, the Afghan government awarded her the title of “Master” or “Ustad,” the first woman in the country ever to be awarded this title.

But in 1991, after the Taliban took over, she was forced to flee Afghanistan and went to Pakistan until she was given political asylum in the United States.  She settled in Fremont, California, a suburb of San Francisco, in a neighborhood that is referred to as “Little Kabul.”

Voices of Afghanistan
“Voices of Afghanistan” performs Friday, September 28, in Crowell Concert Hall at Wesleyan

The internationally renowned director, Peter Sellars, asked Ustad Mahwash to perform inan evening that also featured Dawn Upshaw in George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny, about a female veteran returning from the war in Afghanistan.  The ensemble that performed with her during those performances became Voices of Afghanistan, now on its first U.S. tour.  On Friday night, Wesleyan audiences will have the opportunity to hear instruments and music that are rarely seen in this country.

There will be a pre-concert talk at 7:15pm given by Wesleyan Professor of Music Mark Slobin. Slobin is the author of Music in the Culture of Northern Afghanistan and is one of the foremost scholars of Afghani music of the 1960s, said to be the cultural and political golden age of Afghanistan. Slobin explains that with the plethora of languages and ethnicities in Afghanistan, unification was difficult but crucial. The creation of a popular music style, played on the national radio station Radio Afghanistan, aided in Afghani cultural unification. The music style takes from both localized folk music and nineteenth century sub-continental courtly music, what Slobin calls “light classical Indian music.” Ustad Mahwash was a star of this new popular music style and consequently an icon in Afghanistan at the time. Although Mahwash has spent a large part of her life outside of Afghanistan, her music has continued to be a reflection of the 1960s “golden age,” evoking nostalgia in the Afghani people and giving an authentic snapshot of Afghanistan in the 1960s through the lens of evocative and beautiful music.


Voices of Afghanistan

New England Premiere
Featuring Ustad Farida Mahwash, Homayoun Sakhi
& The Sakhi Ensemble:
Khalil Ragheb, harmonium
Pervez Sakhi, tula (flute)
Abbos Kosimov, doyra (frame drum)
Zmarai Aref, Afghan tabla

Friday, September 28, 2012 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Pre-performance talk by Wesleyan Professor of Music Mark Slobin at 7:15pm
$22 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty & staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Buy tickets online.

“The ensemble’s music, alive with cyclic tabla rhythms and spiraling rubab phrases, somehow echoed the sounds and intensity of the times.”

—The New York Times

Vocalist Ustad Farida Mahwash, the only woman to receive the title of “master” in Central or South Asia, is celebrated around the globe for her exquisite approach to poetic ghazals (folk songs). Artistic Director and rubab (double-chambered lute) virtuoso Homayoun Sakhi creates an acoustically rich crossroads for sawol-jawab (an interplay of questions and answers), exploring traditional and contemporary Afghan melodies on the inaugural tour of Voices of Afghanistan, which includes the musicians of The Sakhi Ensemble on tabla, harmonium, doyra (frame drum) and tula(flute). A Crowell Concert Series event presented by the Music Department and the Center for the Arts.

Watch and listen to a music video for the song “Josh,” composed by Homayoun Sakhi. The song features Homayoun Sakhi and Abbos Kosimov of Voices of Afghanistan.

Voices of Afghanistan is the first performance of Music & Public Life, a year-long campus and community-wide exploration of sounds, words, and the spirit of music in public. Music & Public Life consists of concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses, all designed to cross disciplines and to engage the campus and Greater Middletown communities. For more information, please visit