Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Arts on Campus Spring 09 (Part 2)

Originally, playwright Tony Kushner ("Angels in America", "Caroline, Or Change" "Brundibar", co-author of the screenplay for "Munich") was scheduled to come to Wesleyan right before the Presidential election. That event was postponed and he's going to be in town on Friday January 23 at 8 p.m. in Memorial Chapel (campus front, High Street.)

Billed as "A Conversation with Tony Kushner", the playwright will talk with his long-time friend and collaborator Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater in New York City. In the wake of the Inauguration and the possibility that the country will begin to move in new directions, Kushner's views on the role of theater in social movements and what we might expect in the coming years should be fascinating. The event is free and open to the public.

Composer John Luther Adams creates music that is very much his own. It's spacious, warm, ethereal, at times electronic, other times acoustic, and often inspired by the environment. Writers believe it's because he lives in Alaska and spends much of his time alone, separated from the hustle-and-bustle of city life. Yet, Adams says that he "...loves the energy of New York, Amsterdam and other great cities.." (read the entire interview here) but can only compose at home.

He's coming to Wesleyan on Wednesday January 28 to give a lecture/demonstration in the CFA Cinema titled "A Personal Journey into the Music of the Arctic." He'll be reading from his upcoming book "The Place Where You Go To Listen" (Wesleyan University Press) much of which is concerned with what Adams call the "ideal of musical ecology." The evening prior to his talk, you should go to the World Music Hall on Wyllys Avenue where, from 5 - 11 p.m., you can experience "Veils", an electronic soundscape installation that is haunting and beautiful, rising and falling at very slow pace. Admission to both events is free.

Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce (also a fine composer) created a project several years ago in whuch he and an ensemble of singers would perform the 185 songs of Charles Ives. Most Connecticut residents know of Ives, know of his symphonies that quote 19th Century American songs, often 2 or 3 at a time. He also was a prolific creator of short songs, sung by one or 2 people. His pieces ranged from comic to tragic, quite melodic to experimental. Over the past 4 years, Bruce and company have performed these songs in concerts but never all of them in one weekend.

That's about to change. Starting at 3 p.m. Friday January 30 and culminating at 7 p.m. on Sunday February 1, there will be 6 concerts (2 each day) and all 185 songs will be heard. The vocal ensemble, pictured above, features Johana Arnold (soprano), Elizabeth Saunders (mezzo-soprano), Gary Harger (tenor) and David Barron (baritone.) Professor Bruce will accompany the vocalists on piano and other instrumentalists will be involved. Besides music, there will be a keynote address on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Fayerweather Beckham Hall (next to the Usdan Center on Wyllys Avenue) delivered by composer and music scholar Kyle Gann. Prior to the evening concert on Saturday (6:15 p.m.. in Crowell Concert Hall), legendary soprano and vocal teacher Helen Boatwright will talk about her experiences performing and recording the songs of Ives. For a listing of all the events and the history of the project, go to For ticket information, call the University Box Office at 685-3355.

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