Spring Events include World, U.S., & Connecticut Premieres

We hope that you will take advantage of all that the Center for the Arts has to offer in the coming months:

In keeping with our tradition of welcoming the world to Wesleyan at the CFA, you will have the opportunity to discover one of Australia’s most adventurous contemporary dance companies (Chunky Move); a sizzling jazz guitarist/vocalist from Benin (Lionel Loueke); and an Argentine quartet that celebrates the tango music of Buenos Aires (Fernando Otero).

And in keeping with our interest in the intersection of art and science, the CFA has commissioned two works that will have their first performances at Wesleyan in conjunction with Feet to the Fire: Fueling the Future. SPILL, by Leigh Fondakowski and Reeva Wortel, is a visual art/performance installation that explores the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The work will debut at Beckham Hall in February. Composer Paula Matthusen, new to Wesleyan’s music faculty, will premiere work divided by time at the Van Vleck Observatory. The sound installation is a reflection of how the scientific definition of energy resonates and clashes with cultural and historical concepts.

Other highlights include the world premiere of a new multi-part suite by jazz vibraphonist and music faculty member Jay Hoggard; the U.S. premiere of Quicksand, a provocative new work by inDANCE, the highly acclaimed Toronto-based contemporary dance company directed by Wesleyan Artist in Residence Hari Krishnan; and a 21st-century examination of Gertrude Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, directed by Theater Department Chair Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento.

We invite you to stretch your imagination, contemplate new ideas and celebrate all that the CFA’s faculty, students, and visiting artists and companies have to offer.

Best wishes,

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

P.S. If you are looking for arts interaction over the holidays, please attend Middnight on Main, New Year’s Eve on Main Street in Middletown.

Spring Season at the CFA Announced

Dear Friends of the CFA,

This spring, when you travel to the CFA, you’ll see the world. Well, some of it, at least. Vincent Mantsoe will bring his Paris-based company to perform a work that features South African dance traditions infused with contemporary street dance forms. California-based companies Viver Brasil and Hālau o Keikiali‘i will bring the music and dance traditions of Bahia and Hawai‘i respectively, and DanceMasters Weekend will feature Guilford’s-own Andrea Miller’s Gallim Dance. The company was a sensation at the Spoleto Festival last June and Miller is the winner of this year’s Emerging Choreographer Award.

Jazz figures prominently on the schedule with a concert by the legendary Charles Lloyd and his quartet in January and Sherrie Maricle’s DIVA, an all-female concert jazz orchestra, in April. Lloyd is best known for his seminal album Forest Flower, and his quartet will also feature Jason Moran, who recently won a MacArthur, on the piano. The Music Department will bring its Gamelan Orchestra together with the Wesleyan Ensemble Singers and University Orchestra to celebrate the music of legendary 20th-century composer Lou Harrison. In February, the Theater Department brings its alumnus Michael Rau ’05 to direct Sarah Ruhl’s contemporary farce Melancholy Play, and the playwright herself will be in residence early in February to meet with the cast and give a public talk.

The Zilkha Gallery will host a major exhibition of sculpture, photographs and video by Professor of Art Jeffrey Schiff. His exhibition, Double Vision, will explore how unconscious projections from America’s colonial origins shape perceptions of its current reality.

Many of our majors are creating original works for their theses, and we encourage you to attend their performances and exhibitions as well. We invite you to meet the next generation of art-makers and participate in their visions.

It’s all here in the heart of Connecticut.

Pamela Tatge
Director, CFA

For complete details, visit the CFA website.

A Good Week for Improvistatory Music: Bennie Maupin and Anthony Braxton

This week’s blog is written by Adam Kubota , Press and Marketing Coordinator at the Center for the Arts.

As many people in the community know, in addition to my work at the CFA, I spend nights playing the bass in various musical projects throughout the region. So, as a musician who improvises, as well as someone whose job it is to promote events at the CFA, I am happy to write about how two major figures in musical improvisation, Anthony Braxton and Bennie Maupin, are performing at Wesleyan this week.

On Thursday in Crowell Concert Hall, Professor of Music Anthony Braxton leads his Large Ensemble, which includes many guest performers. Professor Braxton is productive as ever these days having recently gone into the studio to record his opera Trillium E and is now looking forward to special performances this summer in celebration of his 65th birthday. To augment his lineup for Thursday night, Anthony has invited some major talents in the improvisatory scene including:

-Guitarist Tom Crean MA ’04

-Guitarist Kevin O’Neil, who received his MA from Wesleyan and his Ph.D from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom

-Guitarist/bassist and New England Conservatory faculty member Joe Morris

-Drummer Tyshawn Sorey, a rising force on the worldwide improvisatory music scene, a faculty member at the New School University and a current Wesleyan graduate student

I will also be performing and feel lucky to play with these musicians.

On Saturday night, clarinetist/saxophonist/composer Bennie Maupin will lead his trio at Crowell Concert Hall for a concert that is part of Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend. Performing with Mr. Maupin will be legendary bassist Buster Williams and drummer Michael Stephans.

Ethnomusicology Ph.D Candidate Bill Carbone wrote about it in this week’s edition of the New Haven Advocate and provides some excellent background on Mr. Maupin’s legacy:

Even among jazz fans, saxophonist, bass-clarinetist and flutist Bennie Maupin is not a household name. First recorded in 1965, Maupin was a tad late to the “golden age” of jazz, arriving about the time the Blue Note label’s cohesive, well-packaged sessions and stark, modernist album covers gave way to afros, electric guitars, altissimo saxophone wailing, funk and the mainstream music industry.

In 1969, Maupin joined a large ensemble led by Miles Davis at Columbia studios. After some masterful slicing and dicing at the hands of Teo Macero, the music from these first sessions became Davis’s seminal work Bitches Brew. Though much is rightfully made of the album’s layered percussion and electronic keyboards, the woody tone of Maupin’s bass clarinet is a perfect companion to Davis’s own warmth and is certainly one of the recording’s more haunting and defining elements.

At the same time, Maupin began exploring other territory in Mwandishi, a group founded by keyboardist Herbie Hancock. Mwandishi embraced popular African-American music culture elements and the avant-garde, often intermingling the two comfortably within extended jams. However, Maupin has undoubtedly been most heard as a member of Hancock’s next project, Headhunters. That band’s hard-grooving 1973 eponymous debut, which features the jam session classic “Chameleon,” is among a fistful of the best-selling jazz recordings in history. And I’ve only gotten to 1973.

Maupin, of course, continued performing and recording at a feverish pace. With the exception of a few late ’70s recordings, Maupin didn’t record as a leader until the 21st century. His four albums on Cryptogramophone Records are both inside and out; in short, they reflect Maupin’s assimilation of nearly four decades worth of music.

Bennie Maupin Trio
With Buster Williams, bass
and Michael Stephans, drums
Saturday, May 1, 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$18 General; $16 Seniors/Wesleyan Faculty & Staff/Non-Wesleyan Students;
$6 Wesleyan Students

Anthony Braxton Large Ensemble
Thursday, April 29, 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Free Admission