The River Dell High School Select Choir (New Jersey) performed Assistant Professor of Music Heather Gilligan’s composition, “I’ll See You in the Morning,” in Carnegie Hall as part of the New York Choral Festival on March 18. Dr. Gilligan took the text for the piece from a children’s book of the same name by Mike Jolly, a British author. “The book evokes a calm, reassuring atmosphere with its warm illustrations of the moon and stars, snuggling animals, and sleeping children,” Dr. Gilligan explained. “I wanted to capture the same aura through the use of lush, comforting harmonies and a relaxed tempo. I also wanted to highlight the sense of deep love that a parent feels for a child, as this text does. As the mother of a two-year-old, I certainly understand these feelings.”
The performance opportunity came about through Dr. Gilligan’s membership in the Boston Composers’ Coalition, a group of seven composers dedicated to the creation, performance, education, and dissemination of new American music.
The NYC-based chamber ensemble the Bateria Trio has commissioned Music Lecturer Ted Mann’s “Fantasy” for flute, viola, and double bass. “Fantasy” received a Composers Voice Award from Vox Novus in January 2012, and the Bateria Trio then premiered the piece at the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.
“When the Bateria Trio made its Carnegie Hall debut on January 27, 2014, I was honored that they included “Fantasy” on their program,” Mann explained. “I composed the piece for the trio’s exciting instrumentation. The five-note set found in the first measure was the impetus of the piece. It ends as it began, only in retrograde, emphasizing and then de-emphasizing the C# along the way.”
Four KSC students—history majors Kyle O’Brien and Alexander Habibi, theatre and dance major Matt McDougal, and music major Jordan Chase—will be presenting at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Kentucky from April 3–5.
Sending four students to the conference is a real accomplishment for the students and the college, according to Dean of Arts & Humanities Andrew Harris. NCUR is the largest undergraduate research conference in North America, featuring over 2,000 student presentations and reflecting all disciplines in higher education. “It is the kind of conference that we ought to seek out for more of our students, as it offers them a wonderful opportunity to present their work in front of students from colleges and universities all over the country. Student presentation there speaks not only to the quality of student research required for acceptance, but also to the institutional culture that supports a high level of student scholarship and faculty mentoring,” Dr. Harris explained. Keene State is the only institution in New Hampshire that is sending students this year.
Matt McDougal will be presenting about his work performing 35 different roles in the production of the one-man Pulitzer Prize winning play I Am My Own Wife, written by Doug Wright and directed here at Keene State by Timothy L’Ecuyer. “This play tells the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who lived openly in East Berlin through both the Nazi and Communist regimes,” McDougal said. “Like the playwright during the creation of the play, it was my job as the actor to research the given circumstances of the story in order to create a more informed and authentic theatrical production. This included research of the characters spanning a wide range of ages and nationalities, settings across two continents, and backgrounds behind two of the most complex historical eras of the millennium: Nazi and Communist Germany. This is all presented within the social and political contexts of queer culture. Additionally, linguistic research was necessary to portray the diverse characters represented throughout the play. Through slides, lecture, and performance examples, the application of this research will be demonstrated to conference audience members.”
Jordan Chase’s project, “Orchestration of a Large-Scale Music Composition,” is a reflection of the project he completed over the summer under a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grant. “Receiving the SURF grant gave me the opportunity to learn about the orchestral instruments and apply the knowledge I learned to my compositional studies,” Chase said. “The study of instrumentation, orchestration, and formal structure in music enhanced my understanding of music theory at its core and of the compositional process as a whole. At the NCUR conference I plan to explain the musical concepts I learned and how I applied them to my composition, Foreign Comfort. Throughout the presentation I will play excerpts of my piece, demonstrating specific references and ideas to the audience. I am hoping to conclude with a full playback of one of the movements and a brief question-and-answer session. I definitely believe this opportunity will enhance my future, because I’ll gain valuable assets and skills along with a great deal of responsibility and self-confidence.”
Alexander Habibi’s research project focuses on the philosophy of the South African anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, who is credited with founding the Black Consciousness movement that sought to unite and instill pride in oppressed black South Africans during the apartheid era. Biko was detained at a roadblock, tortured, and murdered by security police. “I chose the topic because I studied abroad in Cape Town last spring semester and was fascinated by the struggle South Africans waged against an oppressive, minority-ruled state,” Habibi explained. “While Biko’s ideas were popular among the black South African youth during the radical 1970s, many South Africans my age that I met were either apolitical or so concerned with daily survival that radical politics didn’t seem practical in post-apartheid South Africa. … Although my project is a bit abstract and intellectual, I think it’s a task that involves knowing enough about philosophy to understand how an actual person absorbed ideas and put them into effect. … I owe my acceptance to my advisor, Dr. Nicholas Germana, who not only revised all four drafts of my abstract, but helped me understand many of the complicated philosophical aspects I’d be dealing with.”
Kyle O’Brien will be presenting a paper, “Lifting the Veil,” on early German Romanticism, a literary movement in the late 18th century. The paper’s title refers to the poet-philosopher Novalis’ (Friedrich Von Hardenberg’s) ideas about the poet and his place in society. “I focus on the concept that it is the poet who can lift the veil of truth and that the poet becomes worthy to do so through a ‘circuitous journey’ in which he leaves and returns home with knowledge of the Truth, creating a return to a golden age,” O’Brien said. “My paper will incorporate romantic notions about sexuality, epistemology, and semiotics. I focused on this topic because I’m interested in the history of philosophy generally, but I’m also interested in the nature of language and what relationship it has to reality. These early Romantics saw the world through a mytho-poetic lens that they themselves self-consciously created. Mythology and poetry are things which I think are part of and integral to the human condition; things that the contemporary world has lost sight of.”
During the first week of February, members of the KSC student chapter of the American Choral Directors Association traveled to the 2014 Eastern Division ACDA conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The students were awarded a Student Conference Fund grant and raised additional funds to attend this event. The chapter’s vice president, Kaitlyn Hart, a junior choral music education major and clarinet player, was awarded a Richard Kegerris Collegiate Scholarship, which gave her free conference registration.
The conference offered morning and afternoon sessions covering such topics as repertoire reading, 10 steps to achieving a successful choir, choral rehearsal techniques, and how to sing overtones. Keene State College Assistant Professor of Music Sandra Howard presented one of those sessions, titled “Developing Vocal Techniques in the Middle School Choral Rehearsal.” “My session focused on vocal techniques, or the varied ways we use our voices as singers,” Dr. Howard said. “I led attendees through specific vocal warm ups, and then we analyzed and sang through middle school choral repertoire to determine what techniques each piece can address in the choral curriculum.”
Choirs from different colleges and honor choirs from different schools performed three concerts each day in two beautiful Baltimore churches, St. Ignatius and Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
“This conference is all about teaching us how to be future choral teachers and music educators,” explained Amanda Williams, the KSC chapter’s PR representative. “The different sessions expand our knowledge as music educators. Some of the sessions include choral reading sessions, how to correctly write a resume, and how to properly develop boys’ voices. We will be able to apply the information we learn into our future classrooms.”
By Danielle St. Amand (public relations coordinator of NAfME) and Amanda Williams (public relations coordinator of ACDA)
The KSC chapters of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) hosted the first annual Mock NHMEA All-State auditions to help area high school music students prepare for the real thing: the New Hampshire Music Educators Association (NHMEA) All State Music Festival, where they audition for a spot in an honors ensemble. This “mock” audition allowed high school students to not only go through the audition process, where they must perform a prepared piece as well as basic technical exercises such as sight-reading and scales, but also to receive feedback and advice from Keene State music faculty. The faculty worked with the students to improve their audition material and instill confidence before their All-State audition.
“It is wonderful to see these high school musicians working towards the goal of making the New Hampshire All-State ensembles,” Dr. Chesebrough commented. “Working with them reminded me that, whether they make the ensembles or not, they will be better musicians for the experience.”
“Thanks to NAfME and ACDA for organizing the mock auditions,” said Dr. Sylvern. “I think it was a good opportunity for the students to get a fresh perspective on their playing with regards to their technique, musicianship, and stage deportment.”
Overall, this event was a great success. The students showed much improvement throughout the day, and many were accepted into their all-state ensembles.
Music Department Professor Emeritus and award-winning composer William D. Pardus has been awarded the Director’s Prize in the International Composers’ Competition, sponsored by the Longfellow Chorus of Portland, Maine, for his composition, Five Songs of the Sea, (for soprano voice and piano) which was part of a project of setting 10 Longfellow poems to music, with varied types of accompaniments.
You can get a great education at Keene State—in the classroom and in places outside the classroom. Like in basements. At least, that was Dan Hunt ’00’s experience. He came to KSC in ’96, planning to study music performance. But then he took a computer mapping class and decided to switch to a degree in Geography, figuring that map making might be a more lucrative career than music.
But his love for music never wavered, and he fell in with a band called Brown Factory, playing drums and “spending several weekend nights sweating in the basement of 80 Roxbury (among other places),” he recalled. “Those guys were incredible and really helped form the player I am today. We would play marathon shows that would end up being heralded as the greatest party ever thrown or the biggest disaster you ever saw. Either way, I learned so much about groove, dynamics, and stamina on the drums. Things I wouldn’t have necessarily learned with a Music degree.”
When he graduated in 2000 with a BA in geography, he headed to Portland, Maine, and found work as a Geographic Information Systems Specialist for an environmental engineering firm there. And he continued to play drums nearly every night.
He moved around the country some, working for engineering firms and city planners making maps, eventually settling in Portland, Oregon. “I loved the work and it kept me from starving,” Dan explained. “But I always saw music as my number one career. I played nearly every chance I got and never turned down a gig, no matter what it was.” Everywhere he lived, he played and toured with various bands, including Arthur and Yu, Broken Social Scene, Iron and Wine, and Album Leaf. He found out through his local drum shop that Neko Case needed a drummer. “I threw my name in a hat, auditioned, and got the gig!”
“Since then, I’ve been playing full time with Neko, so no more maps. My first show was in Barcelona in front of 5,000 people, and its been a whirlwind ever since. We’re currently touring on her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. I’ll be out over the next year and a half touring all of the States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.”
Does he ever look back? You bet: “Chris Cusack, Jo Beth Mullens, and Elaine Hartwick were among my most inspirational professors at KSC,” Dan remembered. “In the Music Department, I still have fond memories of Don Baldini and Ted Mann. I miss all those folks!”
Here’s Dan and the Neko Case gang playing a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR at Halloween (in costume, of course):
And here’s Dan, soloing at the Portland Drum Fair:
by KSC choral music education student and ACDA member Amanda Williams
On Saturday, October 5, the Epilepsy Foundation of New England hosted the annual New Hampshire Walk for Epilepsy in Concord to raise awareness and funds for research into this medical condition. The Epilepsy Foundation was established in 1967 and is funded primarily through donations as well as sponsored events.
Student and Vice President of the Keene State chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Kaitie Hart has been involved with this event for a few years; she is very close to the family that runs the New Hampshire walk. Hart has watched participation for the New Hampshire walk grow over the years, so she decided to keep the momentum going and raise even more awareness for this cause. KSC’s ACDA chapter realized this would be an effective way to make a difference in their community, so six of their members decided to join the walk, supported by Hart’s mother and Associate Professor of Music Jim Chesebrough.
As the team walked along Concord’s Main Street, they held a sign that read “American Choral Directors Association supports finding a cure for epilepsy.” They got lots of encouragement as people honked their car horns in support. After the walk, everyone gathered at the Kimball Jenkins Estate for raffles, games, and a great lunch provided by Olive Garden. To end the day, ACDA also helped clean up after the event. As a whole, the walk was a wonderful event that brought community together and a great form of community service for KSC.
“It was great to see students from KSC involved in a community service at the state level,” Dr. Chesebrough commented. “It’s also just plain fun to be able to interact with our students in a non-academic context.”
“I really want to thank the group for coming and helping out,” Mary Crowell, NH Field Service Coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation of New England, wrote to Dr. Chesebrough after the event. “Kaitie is like our third daughter, but she still went above and beyond by getting the group to come and help. Circumstances what they turned out to be, I couldn’t have been happier or more pleased with the group. They are a dynamic group to say the least.”
The Keene State ACDA chapter raised $480 towards the event total of $7,421. Keene State’s ACDA chapter is planning to make this walk one of its annual events; it’s hoping that more members participate next year. Mark your calendars: next year’s walk will happen on October 4, 2014.
Each year, the Keene State Music Department holds a Call for Scores to bring new works to campus, to introduce new music to our students, and to encourage the creation of new works. This year, the competition attracted 70 submissions, 53 of which were from around the US while 17 were from international composers from as far away as China, Italy, and Israel. The $1000 prize went to Louisville, KY-based composer Dr. Jeremy Beck, for his piece, In Flight until Mysterious Night, for flute, clarinet, marimba, violin, cello, and piano.
KSC Music faculty will faculty perform Dr. Beck’s work on November 6 in the Redfern’s Alumni Recital Hall as part of the College’s campus-wide symposium, Finding Your Place in the Evolving Commons. The performance will follow a panel discussion at 2 p.m. that will address the role of music in the evolving cultural commons. Dr. Beck will serve on this panel to discuss his composition and to interact with other panelists. This discussion, and the performance, are free and open to the public.
During the 2012–2013 academic year, Assistant Professor of Music Sandra Howard and Hannah Hall, a junior studying music education, conducted a quantitative experimental research study entitled “The Effect of Memorized Versus Non-memorized on Choral Performance Evaluation.” The project investigated the way judges rated the quality of choral performances with different combinations of nonmusical factors (i.e., memorized music versus nonmemorized and eye contact versus no eye contact with the choral director). Continue reading Memorizing Choral Music Isn’t Always the Best Approach, Say KSC Researchers→
When music student Jordan Chase was awarded one of the three available SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) grants for summer 2013, it was the first time the fellowship has gone to a KSC student in the Arts and Humanities. He will receive $4000 to work on his project, titled “Instrumentation, Orchestration, and Large-scale Composition.”
For this eight-week project, Jordan will create a new composition for chamber orchestra, focusing on several areas of research and composition. He’ll address instrumentation and orchestration, large-scale compositional form, the compositional process itself, and marketing and promoting the piece. His study of instrumentation will require him to learn to play several of the orchestral instruments to make him better able to develop idiomatic compositional ideas. To better understand orchestration, he’ll study works by various composers to enhance his understanding of formal structure. Once Jordan has completed his piece, he’ll send the final score to at least one national competition and contact several local and national conductors in an effort to promote and market it. Continue reading Jordan Chase: First A&H Student to Win SURF Grant→
Seven Keene State College students have been chosen to play in the honors ensemble for the 31st Annual New England Intercollegiate Band: Alyssa Comeau ’13, clarinet; Kathryne Lundstedt ’14, clarinet; Kirsten Burrows ’14, trumpet; Kathryn Lanouette ’15, clarinet; Joshua Brennan ’15, percussion; Sam Irvine ’16, trombone; and Gabriel Belluscio ’15, tenor saxophone. Sophomore Joshua Brennan, a Music Education and Composition major, won a cash prize and was selected to perform a solo work on marimba.
Organized by the New England College Band Association, the Festival will be held at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., on April 12 and 13. It brings the top college musicians from across New England together for a weekend of music making with an internationally known guest conductor. This year, that is T. Andre Feagin, an Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Keene State has been represented at this honors festival since it’s start in 1981.
Director of the Redfern Arts Center Shannon Mayers has secured a $1,000 grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts to fund outreach efforts around the screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 futuristic epic, The Complete Metropolis, in the Alumni Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. on January 30. Boston’s Alloy Orchestra, which film critic Roger Ebert calls “the best in the world at accompanying silent films,” will provide their unique and brilliant music for the film. This internationally-known trio blend their distinctive mix of clarinet, accordion, electronics, and junk-metal percussion to highlight the film’s dramatic effect. In addition to the public performance, the Alloy Orchestra will provide a public workshop about live music and silent films. There will be an exhibit of silent-film posters in the Redfern lobby.
The Jimmy Stewart Orchestra — featuring James Stewart ’83, and his wife Samantha’88 — have released their new Christmas single, “There’s Nothing Like Christmas,” just in time for the holiday season. And a portion of the proceeds go to the Connecticut Humane Society!
This neo-swing song blends the likes of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Michael Buble, and Harry Connick Jr., and features 13 swinging musicians, two great vocalists (Ron Drago and Amanda Carr), and a group of kid singers.
Some of the better-known musicians who contributed to this recording are Joshua Levy, arranger (pianist/arranger for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy); Roger Ingram, lead trumpet (formerly with Harry Connick Jr., Ray Charles, Tom Jones, and Maynard Ferguson); and Bill Holloman, tenor sax (who has performed with Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Elton John, and Les Paul). Jim plays trumpet and that’s Samantha on alto sax.