Swarthmore Music & Dance 2018-2019 Programming

The Department of Music and Dance’s 2018-2019 season includes several programs with the William J. Cooper Series and continues the “Featured Artist Series,” now in its second year.


The season kicks off with a performance by Renée Elise Goldsberry, winner of the Tony Award, Grammy Award, Drama Desk Award, and Lucille Lortel Award for her performance off and on Broadway in the musical phenomenon Hamilton on Friday, September 21st at 8pm in Lang Concert Hall.  This performance is presented through the William J. Cooper Series.

third coast percussion

Also presented by the William J. Cooper series is Lenny Seidman: ARC, an original evening-length performance suite that brings together the drumming traditions of tabla from North India and taiko from Japan with contemporary Western and Southeast Asian dance, on Friday, October 5th at 8pm in Lang Performing Arts Center; An Evening of Traditional East Asian Vocal Arts, a performance featuring three particular branches of vocal arts that have no equivalent anywhere else in the world: Kunqu opera (China), Noh (Japan), and P’Ansori (Korea), on Friday, November 2nd at 8pm in Lang Concert Hall; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Third Coast Percussion, teaming with Emma Portner, Lil Buck, and Jon Boogz for an ambitious new project about survival, renewal, and the hidden connections that keep our world together, on Friday, February 8 at 8pm in Lang Performing Arts Center; Third Coast Percussion with a Community Performance of Terry Riley’s In C on Saturday, February 9th at 3pm in Upper Tarble Clothier Hall; and Benjamin Bagby and Sequentia, performing new work Charms Riddles, and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands on Friday, March 1st at 8pm in Lang Concert Hall.  All performances have supporting educational events.  All programs and descriptions can be found at http://www.swarthmore.edu/music/concerts-events.

hubbard street

The Featured Artist Series, which features each artist as performer and teacher, leading master classes, giving solo performances, and collaborating in performance with Swarthmore College student musicians and dancers, returns for its second year.  Here is an overview of the 2018-2019 program.

Amy Barston, cello

amy barston

Acclaimed cellist Amy Barston will perform the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Swarthmore College Orchestra directed by Andrew Hauze, perform a recital with pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, and will lead two master classes for Swarthmore College instrumentalists.  

Master Class with Swarthmore College instrumentalists: Friday, November 9 @ 4pm, Lang Concert Hall and Friday, April 5 @ 4pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College Orchestra Concert: Saturday, December 1 @ 8pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College

Amy Barston and Ieva Jokubaviciute: Friday, March 29 @ 8pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College


Variant 6

variant 6

Vocal ensemble Variant 6  will workshop student composers’ compositions, lead a vocal master class with Swarthmore vocalists, perform a recital, and perform as soloist with the Swarthmore College Chorus and Garnet Singers under the direction of Joseph Gregorio.

Student Composers’ Workshop: Wednesday, October 10 @ 11am, Lang Concert Hall and Wednesday, November 7 @ 11am, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College

Variant 6 Performance: Friday, November 16, 2018 @ 8pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College

Vocal master class with Swarthmore vocalists: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 @ 3pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College

Performance with Swarthmore College Chorus and Garnet Singers: Friday, May 3, 2019 @ 8pm, Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College


Christopher K. Morgan & Artists


Named Washington D.C.’s Best Dance Company in the 2015 CityPaper Reader’s Poll, Christopher K. Morgan & Artists will hold masterclasses for Swarthmore Dance students, and will stage Morgan’s work In the Cold Room for the Fall Dance Concert.  Stones gathered during the community stone collection workshop will be featured in the Pōhaku performance.

Contemporary Dance Masterclass with Tiffanie Carson: Friday, September 7 @ 2:30pm, Lang Performing Arts Center, Boyer, Swarthmore College

Contemporary Dance Masterclass with Christopher K. Morgan: Friday, December 7 @ 11:30am, Lang Performing Arts Center, Boyer, Swarthmore College

In The Cold Room (as part of the Fall Dance Concert): Friday, December 7 @ 4:30pm, Lang Performing Arts Center and

Saturday, December 8 @ 8pm, Lang Performing Arts Center, Swarthmore College

Pōhaku Stone Collection Workshop, Thursday, March 21, Lang Performing Arts Center, Swarthmore College

Pōhaku Performance: Friday, March 22 @ 8pm Performance, Lang Performing Arts Center, Swarthmore College

jasper quartet 18-19

In addition to the above programming, the Swarthmore College Department of Music and Dance will also welcome back the award-winning Jasper String Quartet on Friday, October 27th, Chamber Orchestra First Editions, led by Professor Emeritus James Freeman, on Sunday, January 27th, and Tamagawa Taiko and Dance on Monday, April 15th.  

This programming is made possible by the William J. Cooper Foundation, the President’s Office Andrew W. Mellon Grant, the Gil and Mary Stott Concert Fund, and the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Fund.  The Gil and Mary Stott Concert Fund was established in 1997 on the 25th anniversary of the Lang Music Building. The fund was created as an expression of deep affection for the Stotts by the late Eugene M. Lang, Class of 1938, to recognize their special artistic talents and all that they have meant to the Swarthmore community. Beginning in 2010, the Stott Concert Fund is used to underwrite the Gil and Mary Stott Chamber Music Master Class Series, bringing prominent New York, national, and international artists to campus for one-day coaching sessions with student ensembles.  The Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Fund was initially established to honor the memory of Elizabeth Pollard Fetter by underwriting the cost of lessons and coaching for an advanced-study string quartet. Its focus has been expanded to allow for the coaching of additional chamber music groups. As a Swarthmore student, Elizabeth Pollard Fetter ’25, was deeply involved in college life through music, athletics, and service. The Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Fund has been endowed by her husband, the late Frank Fetter ’20, and children Robert P. Fetter ’53, Thomas W. Fetter ’56, and Ellen Fetter Gille.  The William J. Cooper Foundation provides a varied program of lectures, performances, and exhibitions that enrich the academic life of the College. The foundation was established by William J. Cooper, who specified that the income from his gift should be used “in bringing to the College eminent citizens of this and other countries who are leaders in statesmanship, education, the arts, sciences, learned professions, and business.”

All events are free and open to the public.  Reservations will be made available for An Evening with Renée Elise Goldsberry on September 7, 2018.  Reservations are not available for other performances, but are first come, first served.  Please visit http://www.swarthmore.edu/music/concerts-events for more information.


The Wedding Guest

In addition to their teaching, Swarthmore professors frequently work on their own, independent projects. Most recently, on April 27, Olivia Sabee, Assistant Professor of Dance, and Thomas Whitman, Daniel Underhill Professor of Music, debuted their collaborative ballet The Wedding Guest at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The Wedding Guest features Swarthmore alumni musicians, current students as dancers, and Olivia Sabee’s own dance company, Agora Dance.

Professor Whitman composed the ballet’s music. He has previously mainly worked on operas and contemporary dance pieces; this is his first time collaborating with a choreographer on a ballet. Professors Sabee and Whitman considered a number of ideas, before deciding they were interested in environmental themes. Sabee suggested adapting Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. As Professor Sabee explains,

“We were talking about all types of different ideas and decided we wanted to portray the natural world, with elements of supernatural…we originally talked about climate change, though that faded from the final piece… [The Rime of the Ancient Mariner] is a piece that can really stand on its on, with no dialogue or acting, although of course we had to pare it down a lot.”

“It’s a great story in terms of environment,” adds Whitman. “The human at the center of it all inexplicably shoots a beautiful creature of nature and gets punished by nature in return, which seemed like a colorful and resonant image. It also has a lot of opportunities to write cool music – there’s the albatross, sea monsters, storms, a calm sea, dance music for the wedding, all these different elements that seem extremely promising.”

“I was intrigued by the idea of writing a ballet with a real, old-fashioned narrative storyline,” adds Whitman. “I like working in collaboration, because it makes it much easier for me to feel like I’m contributing a piece to a larger puzzle. Collaborating with Olivia and my former students, and traveling to D.C. together, was the most pleasant part of the experience.”

Most of the dancers who performed on the program came from Agora Dance, a D.C.-based company co-directed by Professor Sabee. Overall, The Wedding Guest included three professional and seven student dancers.

“The dancers I chose had to have strong ballet skills, but also experience with improv, contemporary dance, and inversion,” says Sabee. “The dancers in this ballet were all chosen for the way they use their arms, which is very important, especially for the albatrosses…My favorite choreographic moment is a pas de deux by the two albatrosses. It’s simple in many ways, very pared down as far as movement goes, but we spent a lot of time working on arm movements to develop birdlike qualities.”

Professor Sabee spent hours watching videos of birds and of water, from waves to whirlpools, to better understand how the dancers could best reproduce the movement of water. She also worked with Swarthmore Associate in Performance Chandra Moss-Thorne, who danced the part of the titular wedding guest, and Tara Webb, who supervises the Swarthmore Theater Department wardrobe and helped design the costumes.

Meanwhile, Professor Whitman watched a number of wedding dances on Youtube in order to compose the festive music for the opening marriage scene. He was also in charge of finding musicians, three alumni and two non-alumni freelance musicians. According to Whitman, “I originally was going to hire freelance musicians in D.C. to play the score, then Olivia decided students should be part of the show. It made no sense to transport D.C. musicians to Swarthmore for rehearsals, so it was better to hire students…I was unsure about asking student musicians, because they would have had to skip a few days of classes. So ultimately I called alumni I have worked with and played with socially. Traveling to D.C. with everyone was wonderful.”

Regarding the presence of professional performers from Agora Dance, Sabee believes “any opportunities to bring students together with professional dancers is really exciting because it really pushes the students to perform more fully, and pushes them physically. We have a great crop of very talented students, and everyone thought it was great working with them.”

The ballet itself, which was part of a larger, 1-hour program, was a major success. Over three hundred people attended in person, with an extra 3,500 watching on livestream. Both professors have expressed delight in working so closely together, and hope to do more collaborations in the future.

Emilie Hautemont ’20

chorus picture 2

Chorus & Garnet Singers Concert Features Swarthmore Composers

When interviewed on the upcoming Chorus and Garnet Singers Concert, the first thing director Joe Gregorio notes is that for the first time ever, the Garnet Singers set is entirely comprised of music by Swarthmore composers. Gregorio also writes that the Garnet Singers, comprised of 26 students, and Chorus, including 80 Swarthmore students, faculty, staff, and members of the community, are “the strongest they’ve been in the five years I’ve been lucky enough to teach here.” Seemingly, this spring semester concert will be one to remember. The diverse repertoire of both ensembles feature some of the earliest forms of music alongside pieces composed this year by up-and-coming composers, many of whom will be familiar to those in the Swarthmore community.

The Chorus will perform songs spanning one thousand years of music history, from Gregorian chant to contemporary classical and pop music.  The set revolves around the theme of sun, stars, and sea, including two settings of Alma Redemptoris Mater, an arrangement of Billy Joel’s Lullabye, a Russian song by Sergei Taneyev, and a setting of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?) by Joe Gregorio. Student conductors Deondre Jordan ‘19 and Andrew Kim ‘18 have assisted in preparing the Chorus during sectional rehearsals on their repertoire. The final two songs in the set were inspired by the centennial year of the passing of two significant French composers, Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Lili Boulanger (1893-1918).

From Debussy, the Chorus will sing La mer est plus belle, which Gregorio notes may be the first ever choral performance of the piece. “Though Chorus has performed art song in unison before, Debussy’s is more complex than any such song we’ve attempted in the past.  It’s something of an experiment, I’ll admit, but I’m finding the mixture of Debussy’s sweeping lines, Verlaine’s mysterious text, and Chorus’s beautiful sound to be a magical one.” Joshua Mundinger ‘18 will be featured on piano in both Debussy’s and Boulanger’s works.

Boulanger’s Hymne au Soleil (Hymn to the Sun) will feature soloist Min Cheng ‘18 and is led by assistant conductor Andrew Kim ‘18. Says Kim, “This semester, I have the privilege of conducting the big Chorus, an ensemble that I’ve been a part of since my first week at Swarthmore. It could be daunting for a student conductor to stand in front of 80 people, but the musicians have been so supportive of me, always trusting my vision for the piece and working hard to bring it to life. I’m so grateful to Joe for giving me this opportunity to make beautiful music with people I love!”

The Garnet Singers will perform music by Swarthmore composers, including Min Cheng ‘18, Branch Freeman ’20, Rachel Hottle ’18, Lili Tobias ’19, Asher Wolf ’18, and Music & Dance faculty Thomas Whitman and Joe Gregorio. The text for Min Cheng’s work was written by Maya Kikuchi ‘20, and Asher Wolf’s piece features text by Moses Rubin ‘18 and soloist Shelby Billups ‘20. Joshua Mundinger will accompany Garnet Singers on the piano.

Rachel Hottle’s piece Oh!, set to the text of God’s World by Edna St. Vincent Millay, is described by the composer as “an exuberant celebration of the natural world.” This is the second song Hottle has composed for the Garnet Singers. “This piece springs from a place of sheer joy, and that’s unusual for me, and I think for most composers,” says Hottle. “I’m filled with a very pure kind of hope every time we rehearse the piece, and I think that’s a sentiment that I would do well to carry over into other areas of my life. If only one other person hears my composition and feels the same kind of hope, I will have done my job.”

Hottle’s work last semester inspired Lili Tobias in composing There’s a certain Slant of light, set to the text of Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same title. Says Tobias, “When Garnet Singers sang Rachel’s first choral piece last semester, I was really impressed with her setting of an Emily Dickinson poem. After rehearsal one night, while humming Rachel’s piece to myself, I caught sight of the poster my roommate and I have on our wall of “There’s a certain Slant of light,” and I created my own melody for it.” The piece was premiered earlier in the semester as a vocal quartet, but the spring concert marks the first performance of the song by an ensemble. “I had to make a couple changes to the music in order to facilitate the rehearsal process and improve the text-setting,” Tobias notes. “It’s been exciting seeing it take shape with a larger group.”

Five of the seven pieces performed by the Garnet Singers will premiere at the spring concert. Many Swarthmore composers, musicians, and writers contributed in creating the Garnet Singer’s set, which Gregorio notes was no easy feat. “The Garnet Singers have gamely embraced the daunting challenge of presenting a set comprising mostly premieres; the student composers, for their part, have worked hard to craft wonderful new works for the group, and in the process learned a great deal about writing for choirs.” This spring choral concert represents more than just the product of these songs. It truly showcases the entire process from creation to performance–with Swarthmore students involved every step of the way.

The Swarthmore Chorus and Garnet Singers’ Spring Concert will be held Saturday, May 5th at 3PM in Lang Concert Hall. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit https://www.swarthmore.edu/music/concerts-events.

Maya Kikuchi ’20

Orchestra concert hall

Swarthmore Orchestra Performs Beethoven and Rachmaninoff

Each semester, the Swarthmore College Orchestra performs a culminating concert of various musical works in Lang Concert Hall. This semester, the orchestra is playing two pieces: the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, also called the “Emperor Concerto,” and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. Professor Andrew Hauze of the Music and Dance Department directs the orchestra and has put careful time and thought into choosing the pieces the orchestra plays each semester, deliberating what will be challenging and simultaneously rewarding to play.

This year, Josh Mundinger ‘18 won the Concerto Competition; a contest held each spring, the winner of this competition performs in the Orchestra’s spring concert. Mundinger chose to prepare Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto,” which is why the orchestra is playing this particular piece in the concert. Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances was deliberately selected as a rich learning experience for the orchestra students, as the musical work is interestingly complex and notoriously challenging.

Professor Hauze spoke on his decision to have the orchestra play the Rachmaninoff piece: “with the personnel that we have, all the students want a challenge and I want to give them a challenge. This piece is one which is very difficult but I think it’s the kind of piece where everyone has at some point a very important part and it’s all very musically satisfying, there’s no filler in this piece. Everything everyone plays, there’s a reason for why it’s there, and the way that it interacts with the other parts of the orchestra I find interesting and complex. The learning experience of the piece is very rich, my own study as well as learning with the orchestra.”

Rachmaninoff wrote the work to premiere in 1941 for the Philadelphia Orchestra, with which he had worked a number of times and was close friends with the conductor, Eugene Ormandy, as well as the orchestra players. According to Professor Hauze, this may contribute to the reason why the work allocates importance to every instrument in the orchestra.

Although Symphonic Dances is considered a difficult work to play, Professor Hauze was confident in the capabilities of this group of musicians to tackle such a stylistic challenge. According to Hauze, though the work has become a more common repertory piece for orchestras, it is very rare for college students to have already played Symphonic Dances in their high school orchestras, and he was hopeful that it would be new and exciting for everyone involved.

“[The orchestra is] game for a challenge and really strive with a lot of enthusiasm and energy to improve every week. I think they bring a freshness to it. In a way, this piece combines a sharply etched and sometimes satirical style with late nineteenth century, sweeping textures. It’s a tricky style to figure out. The group brings this sense, and they don’t have any preconceived notions, we’re going at it and learning it together.”

The Orchestra concert will be held on Friday, May 4 at 8pm in Lang Concert Hall. This performance will be free and open to the public.

Marion Kudla ’19


Spring Dance Concert Features Guest and Student Choreographers

With summer break and finals growing steadily closer, everyone deserves a break from end-of-semester stress.  Students, faculty and community members alike should come to the Dance Concert (May 4, 8:30 pm and May 5, 8 pm in the LPAC Pearson-Hall Theater) and see what stunning pieces various dance classes have been working on. The Concert features performances by students in Dance Lab, Ensemble and Repertoire classes, and individual performances, in addition to a performance by guest choreographer Kun-Yang Lin’s dance company, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers.

Kim Arrow, Associate Professor of Dance, is managing the Concert. His work BREAKS, performed by members of his Taiko Repertory class, will open the concert.

“In [BREAKS] I combine contemporary and traditional repertory in a mix of styles in one piece, which I admit is a bit of a cheeky thing to do. But I love the transitions and juxtapositions and contrasts: ergo the title,” says Arrow.

The Concert will include Ballet, Contemporary, Tap, and African-based dance performances. For Professor Arrow, “the most enjoyable part [of the concert] …is watching individual works come together, especially for those which I’ve been able to follow from their inception, such as Molly Murphy’s and Jenny Gao’s.”

Molly Murphy ‘18 will be performing a tap piece, “Neighbors,” which she choreographed herself. She will be accompanied by Wesley Han ‘18 and Francesca Rothell ‘21. Additionally, she is a TA for the tap repertoire class and part of the Taiko Repertory. As Murphy puts it, “it’s going to be fun! And also a marathon, because I’ll be in three numbers with no time to change in between, but it will be fun. This is my last chance to make something at Swarthmore before I graduate…I’ve been in dance concerts every semester as part of a class, and this will be the third time I perform one of my own compositions.”

“Neighbors” is a lighthearted piece about loud, annoying neighbors — perfect for tap dancing, which Murphy has been practicing since she was seven. She was inspired to choreograph the piece by a Philadelphia swing club which frequently plays old jazz songs.

Jenny Gao ’18, a student of Dance Lab II (taught by Kim Arrow) has also choreographed her own piece, a solo entitled “virga” (a natural phenomenon in which massive streaks of rain never reach the ground due to the dryness of air). She was inspired by a Dance Lab assignment which required students to choose an animal to represent; she chose a bear.

“I wouldn’t even call it a bear now, though,” explains Gao. “More like a being or creature that evolves as the piece goes on…as a senior it was very important for me to create something very intimately.”

Gao started in dance at Swarthmore later than most of the department’s students, taking her first class in her sophomore year and her first ballet class this semester.

“I think that’s why I sometimes struggle to put it in choreographic terms, which is both good and bad…A lot of the movements [in the piece] are things you wouldn’t normally do. I was inspired by my training in martial arts, in Beijing opera, and by my performance as Ariel [in this year’s Yellow Stockings’ production of The Tempest].]”

Although both students choreographed their pieces themselves, they worked closely with Professor Arrow, who offered feedback and support. As he says himself, “I am always very proud of the people involved in producing such a thing as a concert with all its challenges and hard work required, not to mention the talent and experience required of the performers and choreographers.  And I’m always amazed at the variety of dance and music styles and traditions and the polyglot movement vocabulary required to pull it off.”

Emilie Hautemont ’20

Happy Molly!

Profile of Dance Minor Molly Murphy ’18

There is no question that senior Molly Murphy finds happiness through dance. Any of her performances at the Swarthmore student dance concerts these past four years has showcased not only her finesse and technicality in tap dancing, but also her ability to brighten the stage with an infectious smile and an energy that radiates throughout the theater. Off the stage, Molly is a little more reserved and soft spoken, though her gentle and soothing demeanor is still as infectious as her stage presence. During my conversation with her, I found myself drawn in, listening to her words with an attentiveness that follows when someone has hushed and important things to share.

“I’m a very quiet person; tap is when I let out a lot of noise. It’s my happy place. People tell me I’m very different when I tap dance or when I’m performing tap than in every other circumstance. Tap is another way for me to express myself and communicate in ways that I often can’t do when I’m talking to people.” Tap has been a mode of expression for Molly and has provided a source of support while at Swarthmore. Despite her shyness in outside contexts, Molly has discovered a form of communication that has allowed her to connect with students and professors in and out of the studio, allowing her to lay hold of dance as an identity within her community.

“Coming to Swarthmore and meeting Sharon Friedler, talking with her and taking classes with her, I realized how big a part dance was in my life. Before Swarthmore, I never really thought of it in relationship with my identity. I took Arts as Social Change and Dancing Identities and did my first independent project [all with Professor Friedler]. I realized it was something I couldn’t put to the side. Dance is something that’s gotten me through Swarthmore and being a dance minor ensured that dance wouldn’t get pushed aside in the face of other commitments.”

These academic dance courses, particularly Arts as Social Change and Dancing Identities, opened Molly’s eyes to the possibility of dance to influence people’s lives and create change in communities. As a Peace and Conflict Studies major, Molly has naturally been interested in the ways that dance can offer meaning and impact.

“I’m a Peace and Conflict Studies major; taking Arts as Social Change made me more aware of dance as a positive form of social change, whether that is in youth programs, prison settings, or Sharon’s dance programs for people with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s kind of a therapeutic tool for a variety of different communities and a way to pass on tradition and stories.”

Molly hopes to continue participating in dance communities even after she graduates from Swarthmore this spring. Recently, she has been taking swing dance and tango classes in Philadelphia, and finds that having common ground, a passion for dance, makes connecting with people a little bit easier. Even despite the exciting possibility of meeting new people in dancecommunities, Molly is still nostalgic about her time at Swarthmore and nods agreeably when I ask her if there are things she will miss about the Musicand Dance Department here.

“Oh yeah. All of the LPAC crew and teachers and professors in the dancedepartment, they really made Swarthmore home for me. I’m going to miss that because coming into Swarthmore, it was a much more supportive danceenvironment than what I’d experienced in high school, which was much more competitive. It’s been nice to TA for the tap repertory class here and be able to do a few of my own pieces and work one on one with professors on how to develop ideas. [It made me see that] dance is an art form in its own right and [taught me] how to use and change space and locate yourself within that space. So I have Swarthmore to thank for helping me to understand what my relationship is with dance and how it has shaped my identity.”

Molly will be performing for the last time in the Swarthmore student danceconcert this spring with the tap repertory class, as well as a smaller piece she choreographed herself. She is approaching this piece in a similar way to the tap piece she choreographed last spring, which involved three of her friends who were graduating. Considered her fondest dance memory at Swarthmore, the piece was titled “Until Tomorrow” and was about friendship and the idea that people may not always be in the same space, but that experiences do last even if you’re not always together.

This time, that message will be for Molly and the other seniors in the tap piece, a reminder of the friendships formed over the past four years and the endless possibilities in the coming years.

Marion Kudla ’19

Fetter group

Spring Fetter Concerts Feature David Kim, Student Conductors, and Into the Woods

What do the musical Into The Woods, an experimental student orchestra, and a cello/piano sonata have in common? These are just a few performances featured in the Fetter concert series, which will run from April 20 through April 28.

Professor Michael Johns has been coordinating the Fetter Program since 2001. The program, originally called “Pollard Scholarship Funds,” debuted in 1975. As Professor Johns explains,

“In 2001, the program, which had initially supported a single string quartet, was renamed the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program and expanded to support the coaching of multiple chamber music groups. Funding continues to be enhanced by successive generations of the Fetter family. Students wanting to participate in the Fetter Program need to audition, and the time commitment is two hours a week: one hour with an assigned professional coach, a second hour-long rehearsal by the students.”

The Fetter Program has earned recognition beyond Swarthmore. Ellen Liu ’18, who will be performing in the first concert of the Fetter series, is taking part in the program for the first time this semester, after a four-year break from music classes.

“I heard about the program prior to coming to Swarthmore, because I had planned on getting involved in the music department from the beginning,” says Liu. “…last semester, one of my friends, who has played in a chamber group for all his time here, encouraged me to reach out to the department and see how I could get back into it. I was put into this group and I honestly couldn’t be more excited to be able to play again…I hadn’t played piano seriously in a long time and I was really happy to be able to return to musicsince it was such a big part of my life before college.” Liu will be performing a Beethoven trio for flute, bassoon, and piano – a rarely-seen combination.

This year’s Fetter concerts feature a variety of musical pieces and instrumental combinations. Rebecca Rosenthal ’20, another first-time participant in the Fetter series, will be singing and playing the role of the Baker’s Wife in the opening from Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed musicalInto The Woods.

“I got involved when [a friend] asked if I would be interested in learning the piece…It’s been a lot of fun — besides learning the difficult music, which has a ton of moving parts and a lot of tricky spots, we spent last weekend actually staging the 15-minute sequence. So I had to learn how to act, too! Channelling your emotions is an integral part of so many musicalperformances and is often overlooked.”

Not all Fetter students are first-time participants: this is Kevin Lai ’18’s fifth semester participating in the program; four previous Fetter concerts have not dampened his enthusiasm or energy. He will be performing the Grieg Sonata on the piano, accompanied by Kyle Yee ‘19 on the cello.

“I think last semester’s Fetter concert was by far my best. I really enjoyed the music, and the crowd was entertained by our playing,” says Lai. “For me, if we please the crowd and play as well as we do in rehearsals, then that makes me extremely happy. I have worked with the same coach for 4 semesters now, so at this point, we have developed an amazing working relationship. Our coach pushes us to not only nail all the notes but also bring out the emotions and feelings from the piece.”

Another Fetter performance to watch out for is the Lab Orchestra, a group launched in Fall 2016 to give student conductors some practical experience. Shira Samuels-Shragg ’20, one of this year’s conductors, explains that “musicians in the ensemble are paid to rehearse on Saturday mornings with two student conductors. Andrew Hauze brilliantly coaches us [the conductors], suggesting changes and pointing out problem areas. In that sense, Lab rehearsals function as conducting lessons. Since fall 2017, Andrew Kim ‘18 and I have been the two conductors of Lab, so each of us rehearses for an hour with the ensemble every week…this semester we’re conducting Bach’s Violin concerto in E Major with soloist David Kim, and that has been such a blessing. He is simultaneously a world-class violinist and an incredibly generous and kind collaborator.”

Each of the Fetter students expresses excitement for their upcoming concerts. Audience members can enjoy a variety of performances, from a Renaissance vocal quintet to jazz improvisations. As Samuels-Shragg sums it up,“the Fetter concerts are a wonderful break from end-of-semester craziness. It’s always exciting to see what other groups in the musicdepartment having been working on over the past several months.”

The Lab Orchestra and David Kim will be playing in the second Fetter concert, on Sunday April 22nd at 7:30 PM. The other Fetter concerts will be on April 20th, 27th, and 28th, at 8:00 PM in Lang Concert Hall.

Emilie Hautemont ’20

HOOP OF LIFE: Music and Dance from Ojibwa/Oneida with Ty Defoe (4/24 at 4:30PM)

HOOP OF LIFE with Ty Defoe/ Gi izhig (Oneida/Ojibwe Nations)Ty_Defoe

This event will include interactive tribal songs and flute, hoop, and eagle dances. This unique program explores stories within a framework of traditional and contemporary culture, history, and values. Ty draws on his vast repertoire gifted to him weaves urban anecdotes and teachings that can be applied to ideas of shape-shifting and how this relates to identity. Walking in multiple worlds on earth is what Ty carries as he  weaves stories and humanity together. Storytelling is often discovered with a presenting a message. For example the Sacred Hoop Dance is a metaphor that gives a message of people creating unity. The four colors of the hoops are symbols of interdependence and unity – the four human races, the four seasons, the four directions of the compass. As the Hoops move they speak of renewed creation of all of the universe.

Upper Tarble


April 24, 2018


dance matters too

Dance Matters Too! Professor Pallabi Chakravorty’s Latest Book

Professor Pallabi Chakravorty of the Swarthmore Music and DanceDepartment has had a busy year. Despite her abrupt sabbatical due to a back injury, Professor Chakravorty has published two books within the past year that she has been working for close to a decade: This is How We DanceNow! Performance in the Age of Bollywood and Reality Shows, published in October of 2017, and Dance Matters Too: Memories, Markets, Identities, which was published in India this past March and is forthcoming in the United States.

Dance Matters Too was inspired by a conference Professor Chakravorty attended that sparked conversations about the nature of classical Indian performance in the face of contemporary global changes. People from all over the world interested in classical Indian dance gathered at this international conference to address their diverse experiences in the field, and when Professor Chakravorty and her co-editor Nilanjana Gupta sent out calls for papers, they were surprised by the influx of articles from scholars anddancers all over the world.

The book is divided into sections loosely separated by historical significance. The first looks at the history of the style itself and what remains of classical Indian dance now. The second part looks at the current influence and fusion of popular culture on Indian dance. It investigates the role of globalization ofdance alongside shifting ideas of Indian national identity. The final section deals with the creation of subnational identity through the development of regional styles of classical Indian dance.


When asked what inspired her to do the research for her article, titled “Cosmopolitan Then and Cosmopolitan Now: Rabindranrtiya Meets DanceReality Shows,” in Dance Matters Too, she referenced her own experiences as a Kathak-trained dancer.

“I became very interested in challenging myself. I have a certain mindset about aesthetics. We develop strong tastes and preferences as dancers if you are trained in certain ways…so it creates a mindset and I wanted to challenge that. I’ve always been very fond of Bombay films, which after the 1980s, after liberalization, became Bollywood. It is much more global and spectacle-oriented, prior to [Bombay films] that were more classically oriented and had folk forms.”

Professor Chakravorty’s fieldwork for This is How We Dance Now, which she also used for her article in Dance Matters Too, has taken her to the sets of Bollywood films to work and dance alongside young Bollywood dancers. “It was a challenge. What I first learned was I am not a Bollywood dancer…After being exposed to that kind of movement and energy, high energy movement that is not line oriented but spectacle oriented, I thought there’s something there. These people are enjoying [what they’re doing]. Through these interactions, I saw how versatile they were, how fabulous they are asdancers. It’s a different kind of dance and I have tremendous respect for what they’re doing.”

Once her most recently published book, Dance Matters Too, is available in the United States, Professor Chakravorty hopes to see forums for writers anddancers to write about dance, giving more visibility and accessibility to dancestudies and dance scholarship.

“I want more people to do dance research in different venues, so that writing becomes a part of the culture of dance, to think about dance not in isolation, that it’s this esoteric world, but that dance is connected to other things.Dance is first and foremost culture…so [I want people] to understand how it is part of culture and why it changes, how it is dynamic and cross-cultural, and to make people competent in cross-cultural understanding.”

Dance Matters Too: Memories, Markets, Identities contributes to these forums and will offer insight on the ever-shifting nature of Indian dance in an increasingly global world, providing its readers with compelling reasons for the continued study and appreciation for a variety of dance forms.

Marion Kudla ’19

tamagawa taiko

Tamagawa Taiko Returns to Swarthmore

Tamagawa Taiko Drum and Dance Group has a long history with Swarthmore’s Dance and Music programs, spanning eighteen years of performances and workshops. Professor Kim Arrow, Swarthmore Taiko professor, first met Tamagawa Taiko director Isaburoh Hanayagi in 1999 at a dance festival in Philadelphia. The two of them–one an expert in Japanese performing arts and one a dance professor with a budding interest in taiko–arranged Swarthmore’s first Tamagawa Taiko performance the following year. Although lightly publicized, the concert was sold out, setting the standard for annual performances since.

In addition to regular taiko performances, Isaburoh has held multiple workshops in dance, taiko, and kabuki theater, extending the relationship between Swarthmore and Tamagawa beyond just the taiko programs. In 2002, a delegation from Tamagawa traveled to Swarthmore to consult with various faculty and administrators in establishing the first Department of Liberal Arts in Japan at Tamagawa University. Later, Swarthmore President Al Bloom and Tamagawa President Yoshiaki Obara would establish an official Sister Relationship between the two institutions, symbolized by the hanging of printed cherry blossom fabric over the LPAC stairwell. In 2004, a member of Tamagawa’s Art Program held a workshop in Japanese textile design for Swarthmore art students. In 2008, Isaburoh served as a Cornell Visiting Professor of Japanese at Swarthmore, during which his taiko classes performed with the Tamagawa group to an audience of over 20,000 people at Philadelphia’s Sakura Sunday Festival. Swarthmore has benefitted from the Tamagawa Taiko program in innumerable ways, including the gift of fourteen professional-class taiko drums arranged by Isaburoh.

Since that first, modest concert at Swarthmore in 2000, Tamagawa Taiko has gained acclaim performing in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, and across the Northeast. Notably, the group now performs annually for Philadelphia’s famous Cherry Blossom Festival. Amidst their growing reputation, Tamagawa Taiko returns to Swarthmore yearly for their ever-popular performances and continues to grace the campus with their musicdance, and Japanese cultural education. Says Professor Arrow, “I am aware that audiences await each Cherry Blossom season with much anticipation for this world-class event with its exceptionally trained drummers and dancers. I am very grateful that they regard Swarthmore as their second home.”

Taiko students Christine Lee ‘18 and Josie Hung ‘18 also voice their gratitude having witnessed several Tamagawa Taiko performances. “This upcoming show will be my 3rd time seeing Tamagawa Taiko perform,” says Lee. “Each time I watch their show, I am blown away by their artistry, skills, and overall performance. The drums are exhilarating, the dances are mesmerizing, and the fact that they’re students our age is all the more impressive.” Hung remembers the performances with similar awe. “The experience was truly amazing. I loved the energy, movement, and preciseness that each player brought and was completely enveloped in their performance from the moment they hit their first beat.” Hung encourages everyone, especially students outside the Music and Dance Department, to attend a Tamagawa Taiko performance. “I think it is valuable to see professional performances from people who train everyday in this art form,” she says. “I also think engaging and learning from art in different cultures is a very important and valuable lesson that every individual can take from this.”

Maya Kikuchi ’20