Monthly Archives: April 2018

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

Spring18_DanceConcert_Poster_draft2

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

4:30-6PM

April 24, 2018

https://swatcentral.swarthmore.edu/?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D288012818 

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

Wind ensemble

Swarthmore Wind Ensemble’s Spring Concert

Having survived four March winter storms and a few power outages, the Swarthmore College Music and Dance Department is now ready to host its series of spring concerts, featuring students from a variety of classes and music and dance groups. One of these is the Wind Ensemble Concert, featuring over thirty members from the student body, faculty, and Swarthmore community.

Wind Ensemble is one of the largest music courses at Swarthmore, with over 30 members this semester. It is also one of the oldest, ongoing since the 1980s. Andrew Hauze, a Swarthmore professor trained as a conductor, pianist, and organist, has taught the class every semester for the past seven years.

“The biggest challenge from semester to semester is figuring out who is playing, what their level is, and finding music that everyone can play together,” says Hauze. “…I love that it brings students together from all across campus. I get to hear about what they’re doing in their courses, and meet students from all departments.”

The Wind Ensemble is open to students from all class years and majors who play wind, brass, or percussion instruments. As a Tri-Co class, the Ensemble often has at least a few students from Bryn Mawr and Haverford, in addition to faculty and members from the local community. As Hauze explains, “if we have room, we open the Ensemble to community members, especially those who play instruments we don’t have in that year’s ensemble. It’s really nice – [students and community members] really get to know each other and many of the faculty and community members keep coming year after year, for over a decade, so there’s this intergenerational dynamic.”

This semester’s Wind Ensemble features two faculty members, Gilbert Rose (Classics) on the trumpet and Carr Everbach (Engineering) on the trombone, in addition to four community members. The Ensemble features a variety of instruments and musicians, ranging from six clarinetists and flutists to a pianist, and one player of the less-known euphonium (a baritone horn). Regarding Wind Ensembles in general, Professor Hauze notes, “one of the strange things about Wind Ensembles as a group is that it only began to coalesce in the 20th century. So if we want to play older music it needs to be arrangements not originally intended for this group. I like to get a mix of pieces originally written for these instruments and pieces that have been arranged. The Ensemble always plays together, for every piece.”

Saturday’s concert will feature seven pieces, divided into two sections, mainly religious and spiritual works. To honor the centennial of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, one of the most famous American composers in musicalhistory, the Ensemble will perform his “Profanation,” a complex piece whose meter changes with almost every measure.

Hauze’s personal favorite in the first section is “O God Unseen,” by Philadelphia-born composer Vincent Persichetti. This will be Hauze’s first time conducting the piece.

“[Persichetti] was this very famous composer, with a lot of weight in the musical community. But at the same time he was interested in writing for ordinary people, so a lot of his wind music is in that vein,” explains Hauze. “But at the same time he is very serious, this is a brooding and haunting piece. The musical language is pretty complex, but playable by a college group. It’s been very challenging but super fun to learn!”

The second half of the concert will be more lighthearted, and focused on storytelling. Hauze is especially fond of the Overture of 1930s Broadway musical Of Thee I Sing, composed by George Gershwin. “The Gershwin one is very close to my heart, because I think he is really fantastic but not as well known today. It’s also an arrangement I made 5 years ago, and because it is an overture it has fragments of music from all over the show, but they were blended in a way that’s really ingenious,” says Hauze.

The Wind Ensemble Concert is held Saturday, April 14, at 8pm in Lang Concert Hall. Students and community members are all welcome to attend.

Emilie Hautemont ’20

tommy neale

Representing Radiohead at Ethnomusicology Conference

On Saturday, March 24, Swarthmore Professor of Music Lei Ouyang Bryant and recent alumnus Tommy Neale ’17 presented selections of their respective scholarship at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s annual conference in College Park, Maryland. Neale’s conference presentation consisted of a condensed version of the senior comprehensive paper that he presented to the music faculty for evaluation last semester. The topic of his paper is a music theoretical, historical, and cultural analysis of “Paranoid Android,” the lead single from Radiohead’s third studio album, OK Computer.

After reading his paper and listening to his presentation, Professor Bryant realized that Tommy’s research would be a good candidate for a conference presentation. She said, “I was really impressed with his multi-faceted examination of Radiohead. In his paper, he rigorously investigates the band, their music, and the particular historical and cultural moment of the album. Tommy has a wonderfully analytical mind and is really engaging in both writing and public speaking.” But the process of preparing his comprehensive for a conference presentation has not been without its challenges. Neale was tasked with condensing his 36-page thesis into a 10-page document and 20-minute presentation, that still somehow preserves his original points. Out of necessity, his presentation eschewed some of the finer music theoretical details that were contained in his original thesis, and focused mainly on the relationship between instrumentation, timbre, and ethnomusicology.

Both the process of writing his comprehensive and the subject matter of “Paranoid Android” were extremely important to Neale. He calls the initial process of writing his comprehensive as “tremendously worth doing” but also “very difficult” saying, “doing comps changed me.” “Paranoid Android” was “very formative” for Neale as a young listener, and he acknowledges the tremendous influence Radiohead has had on his own songwriting process. The process of sustained scholarship on a single topic is certainly a Herculean task, especially when the topic of one’s scholarship is a piece of art that holds such personal significance. The subject matter of “Paranoid Android” particularly resonates with Neale, especially given his experiences at Swarthmore. He describes Swarthmore as a “hyper-anxious place,” and says that the only way he has been able to keep his anxiety under control is by “going totally low tech…keep(ing) the stimulation really low.” “Paranoid Android,” written in the early days of the Internet Age, provides for Neale a distillation of this fear of sensory overload. “The main point of Radiohead,” he says, “is sort of turning the soundscape of modernity on itself critically.” In a world that can often be hyper-stimulating, Radiohead has provided for Neale a blueprint for survival.

He cites “the allure of doing something totally sideways…something very, very non-classical” for his senior comprehensive as one of his reasons in selecting “Paranoid Android.” But he is also quick to mention that his primary motivation was his love of Radiohead: “I think the reason that I loved them before is the reason I did comps, is the reason I still love them now.” But when asked how this process of scholarship has informed his conception of the song, Neale wryly chuckles. “In the end,” he says, “the research gets so far away from why you loved the song in the first place.” He says he is taking six months off from even listening to “Paranoid Android” again, perhaps to give his brain time to rest.

Rachel Hottle ’18

CME 1

Chinese Music Ensemble’s Spring Concert

On Sunday, April 8th at 3:00PM the Swarthmore College Chinese Music Ensemble will be showcasing its talents in Lang Concert Hall for their spring concert in a program shared with Gamelan Semara Santi. The Ensemble is co-directed by Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant and Wang Guowei, a world-renowned performer who comes down from New York to rehearse with the students.

The Chinese Music Ensemble will be playing five pieces, all personally arranged by Wang Guowei to suit each musician’s abilities while still creating a cohesive piece. Many are related to nature, including “Flower Drum Song,” “August Flowers in Bloom,” and “Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon.” Another piece, “The Happy Farmer,” is quick and fast-paced, leading some members of the Ensemble to jokingly call it, “The Stressed Farmer.” To round out the repertoire, the Ensemble is bringing back “Three Folk Songs,” which, as the title indicates, is composed of three separate folk songs.

The Chinese Music Ensemble was established as an official performance ensemble for the first time last semester, drawing both seasoned musicians and beginners looking to learn something new. Students will play traditional Chinese instruments such as the guzheng (zither), erhu (bowed fiddle), hulusi (gourd flute), and yangqin (hammered dulcimer). Though many students used their knowledge of Western instruments – for example, the hulusi is similar to the clarient – they had to adjust to various changes such as the use of cipher notation, which assigns a number to each note rather than a letter.

After a successful fall concert, the Ensemble drew more new members, with only four returners, turning last semester’s beginners into teachers for their peers. Lesia Liao ‘18, who started playing the yangqin just last semester, will now be playing a solo in “The Happy Farmer.”

The performances of Gamelan and the Chinese Music Ensemble will transport audiences across the world to China and Indonesia. As the Chinese Music Ensemble continues introducing students to traditional Chinese music, their spring concert’s ambitious repertoire will enrapture audiences with their energy and rich, melodic sound.

Tiffany Wang ’21