Monthly Archives: October 2018

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Gets a New Twist

This coming Sunday evening, one will be able to find Professor Andrew Hauze seated at the organ of the Swarthmore United Methodist Church in front of a gathering of community members there for the advertised “pre-Halloween fun.”

The event is a showing of the 1923 silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with live accompaniment by Hauze, a conductor, pianist, and organist, who graduated from Swarthmore in 2004 and returned shortly thereafter to teach and perform at the college.  Although a busy schedule on campus prevents him from focusing on much else, Hauze lives in the town of Swarthmore and says that he “love[s] to participate in musical events off-campus whenever there’s time,” often substituting as an organist at local churches and giving informal chamber concerts “with friends around town.”

In this case, he was asked to join the project by Linton Stables, who organized it on behalf of the Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association.  Stables got the idea for a silent film showing with live accompaniment after attending one at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and, in the words of Hauze, “thought it would be a great way to have a town-gown community building event.”  The evening is co-sponsored by seven local organizations, including the college’s Department of Music and Dance, and those involved are hopeful that this broad base of support will result in an equally broad range of people in attendance.  They are aiming for a crowd of all ages that is well mixed between members of the college community and other Swarthmore area residents.

Professor Hauze was especially willing to participate due to his pre-existing interest in silent film music.  In April 2017, he curated a collaborative performance between music faculty and students and Orchestra 2001, then Swarthmore’s official ensemble-in-residence, in which he conducted live the scores for Night Mail (1936) and The City (1939).  Those works were composed by Benjamin Britten and Aaron Copland, respectively, but Hauze says that “many silent films didn’t have original scores” and that “instead, a local musician or even small ensemble would create a score from previously existing music, sometimes with new additions composed specifically for the movie.”

He found that in the case of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, any form of an original score has mostly been lost, and so instead decided to improvise, calling it “a lovely opportunity to try my hand at creating film music on the spot!”  The final performance won’t be completely unstructured though, as Hauze explains that he has built upon “a number of French medieval folk songs and liturgical music [with] a relationship to the plot as themes for improvisation.”  He has established a general framework that uses “the same themes in similar locations” in order to consistently match the cinematic mood, but lets the precise development and transitions between those set points be different each time he practices.

So, while some of the musical elements of Sunday’s show may be thrillingly spontaneous, there are a few sure details to remember: the event is on October 28th at 7:30pm in the Swarthmore United Methodist Church, at 129 Park Avenue.  It is free and open to all, with free refreshments served at intermission, and promises to be a perfectly spooky way to start the whole holiday season.

Lydia Roe ’20

The Jasper String Quartet in Concert

Since their formation at Oberlin Conservatory twelve years ago, the Jasper String Quartet has been wowing audiences and their fellow musicians across the country, playing music from a host of time periods and genres, from the classics to contemporary debuts. They are recipients of the Cleveland Quartet Award, bestowed only once every two years, and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association’s 2016 Educator Award, recognizing their admirable work with young musicians. Last year, they were a Featured Guest Artist at Swarthmore College, playing with the Lab Orchestra, giving master classes and leading sectionals.

Orchestra director Andrew Hauze gushed about the musical capacity of the quartet, noting, “not only are they world class musicians and communicators, but they are also amazing teachers, individually and as a group. Each time they work with our student musicians I am impressed by their ability to take students at whatever technical level they find them and help them reach new heights of musical expression and collaboration.”

Cellist Kyle Yee ‘19, whose chamber group participated in a master class with the Jasper Quartet, recounted how “working with string players of that caliber was really something else. They really helped us open up our sound.”

Many were disappointed when the quartet’s solo concert was postponed last year due to inclement weather – particularly those in the orchestra who had closely worked with the group – but this week, the Jasper String Quartet is returning to Swarthmore.

When asked about her experience conducting the Lab Orchestra, Shira Samuels-Shragg ‘20 said “getting to work with the Jaspers last fall was such a privilege. They generously and joyously shared their vast knowledge of string technique and musical interpretations with us. As a student conductor, I was deeply grateful for their combination of constructive feedback and enthusiastic support. Their love of and dedication to music are contagious and inspiring.”

While professional musicians in any context can inspire emotion and excitement in their playing, there’s something special about not only listening to but watching a world class chamber ensemble in their element. The soloistic virtuosity and nuance, along with the rich sonorous strings and engaging stage presence of the Jasper String Quartet make their performance truly a sight and sound to behold.

The Jasper String Quartet will be performing on October 27, at 8:00 PM in Lang Concert Hall. Their repertoire will feature the Haydn Quartet op. 64 No. 6 and Smetana Quartet No. 1 “From my Life,” along with Joan Tower’s “Wild Summer” and Caroline Shaw’s “Valencia”.

Andy Zhang ’21

“Everything You Know About Indian Music is Wrong:” Victoria Levine’s Upcoming Lecture

On Thursday, October 25, ethnomusicologist Victoria Levine will come to Swarthmore’s campus to present a lecture titled “Everything You Know About Indian Music is Wrong.” Levine is a professor of music at Colorado College, located on traditional lands of Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people. She focuses her research on music in Indigenous ceremonial life, musical revitalization, historical ethnomusicology, and the circulation of music along trade routes.

Professor Levine’s provocative title originates from Paul Chaat Smith’s book of the same name. In this lecture, Professor Levine intends to answer four questions: How did modernity affect Native music? Do Native musicians have music theory? Can Native women make music? What is the history of Native music?

In order to tackle these four questions, Professor Levine draws upon the work of Native and settler scholars as well as her own research. She poses these four critical questions as an opening to begin challenging herself as an ethnomusicologist of settler descent and to challenge audience assumptions about Indigenous music and musicians.

“Professor Levine obliges us to think about music in unusual (and sometimes, perhaps, uncomfortable) ways,” Swarthmore Music Professor Tom Whitman said.  “I expect that her audience will be stimulated by her ideas to reflect in new ways on music and the arts in relation to culture and their own lives.”

Professor Levine’s lecture is the annual Peter Gram Swing (PGS) Lecture, an event established in the honor of the founder of Swarthmore’s Music Department. The idea to invite Professor Levine as part of this annual event was first proposed by Swarthmore Music Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant, who saw an opportunity to bring a scholar of Native American music and culture to Swarthmore since there are no current specialists present on campus. Other members of the Music Faculty were immediately enthusiastic.

“I first met Professor Levine when she interviewed me for a faculty position at Colorado College in the early 1990’s,” Professor Whitman said. “She impressed me very much at that time, and I have followed her work from a distance over the intervening years.”

“I’d also like to single out the advocacy of a current Swarthmore student, Julia Wakeford, who had met Professor Levine, knew her work, and encouraged us to invite her, without knowing that we were already thinking along the same lines,” Professor Whitman continued.

Though Professor Levine’s lecture is not a part of any Swarthmore class semester, Professor Bryant tries to incorporate related events into her own course.

“I try to incorporate related campus events in my ‘Music and Dance Cultures of the World’ course, so my students will be attending the lecture and writing a short response for our class,” Professor Bryant said.

This lecture is an opportunity to address topics that are not covered currently in any Swarthmore music classes.

“We try to bring speakers who can address topics that are not otherwise covered in our curriculum,” Professor Whitman said. “Through almost 30 years of PGS speakers on many different topics, I don’t believe we have ever previously hosted a specialist in the musics of indigenous peoples, so this seemed an auspicious opportunity.”

Moreover, this event provides space for a group who has been historically underrepresented.

“I am excited to have Native musicians and music centered in this year’s PGS lecture,” Professor Bryant said. “First, I hope that the audience will learn more about Native American musicians, music, and music making. Second, I hope we can all think about the stereotypes and assumptions that have been, and continue to be, circulating in mainstream popular US culture and K-12 education.”

“I believe Professor Levine’s lecture will provide an opportunity to both challenge and extend one’s current knowledge and awareness,” Professor Bryant added.

Professor Levine’s lecture will be located in the Lang Concert Hall and will occur on Thursday, October 25 at 4:30pm.

David Chan ’19

Music Minor Profile: Deondre Jordan ’18

A musician, chemist, and aspiring physician-scientist – Deondre “Dre” Jordan ’19 will graduate next semester with an Honors major in Chemistry and an Honors minor in Music.  He plans on carrying both passions into his life after graduation, hoping to gain research experience, earn a M.D./Ph.D, sing in an advanced chorus, and compose his own music.

Dre became involved with Swarthmore’s Music Program well before he enrolled as a student. Dre sang in the Chester Children’s Chorus while in middle school, attending rehearsals and learning programs on the college campus. Dre even recalls working with Professor Andrew Hauze when Hauze was still a Swarthmore student. When Dre reached his third year of high school, he joined the Swarthmore College Chorus where he grew close to many of the college’s music faculty, especially Chorus conductor Joe Gregorio. By the time Dre enrolled in the college, much of the music faculty were already “like family” to him, which only intensified his motivation to remain in the College Chorus and join the Garnet Singers.

As a chemistry honors major and music honors minor, Dre “loves” the connection he feels between the two seemingly different subject areas. Dre recalls taking Organic Chemistry II and Music 13 simultaneously and feeling as though the ideas for both classes were essentially the same: recognizing patterns, solving puzzles, and learning how to create —  whether it be synthesizing compounds or constructing melodies and harmonies. In Physical Chemistry I, Dre learned to view the electron as a wave and about its wave characteristics. At the same time, he was taking Atonal Music Theory Seminar, where he learned how sound waves can be superimposed to build intervals and create harmonies. “It was really beautiful to see electrons and intervals do the same thing in two different fields,” he says. It is these beautiful intersections between chemistry and music that, he says, “made doing both easy.”

Even though his desired professional career focuses more on chemistry than music,  Dre believes that the skills he has developed as a musician at Swarthmore will help him thrive as a physician-scientist. Music has taught him how to not only understand emotion, but more importantly, how to express emotion clearly and professionally. He has learned how to sustain an appropriate degree of vulnerability while remaining personable to his audience. Dre realizes how important it is for a physician to have a mastery of these qualities, so they are things that he’ll carry in whatever he does, especially in treating patients.

For now, Dre plans to stay active in the Music Program. He starts a new position this semester as the College Chorus’s assistant conductor, and is currently learning musical conducting and more advanced music theory under Joe Gregorio. As a singer for most of his life, Dre is excited to take on this “different but important role.” His experiences and knowledge gained thus far have already made Dre “grow so much as a musician”, and he is “infinitely grateful” not just for this new position, but for all the opportunities Swarthmore has given him throughout his life to pursue music.

Maria Consuelo de Dios ’21

ARC Program Notes

In ARC our intention is to bring together two very different drumming traditions of tabla from North India and taiko from Japan.  We sought to find choreographer/dancers whose artistry would include a responsive sensitivity subtle enough yet expansive enough in order to interpret the enormous dynamic and physical range of the arc between these two poles.

We also see a second relational graph producing an arc between the electrodes of tabla and the dance/movement with taiko—an art form comprising both drumming and choreographed full-body movement in equal parts—as the resultant voltage that will illuminate the relationship between the three components.

We hope for exploration as well as reconciliation of these disparate disciplines.  Thundering taiko drums will offer a dynamic contrast to the quieter, complex rhythms of tabla; and as the taiko drummers explore a complex personal kinesphere with the space and volume of their drums, dancers will seek out sonic spaces and the rhythms that define them.

While tabla drums—played as a pair—are now played all over India, these drums are traditionally found in the north of India.  The two drums typically produce as many as twelve distinct sounds and the rhythm cycles can consist of over one-hundred beats.  All rhythmic phrases can be spoken as recitative as can rhythms of Taiko. Tabla often accompanies dance traditionally and today.  The dancers too recite these rhythmic syllables as part of the process of choreographing, teaching, and performing.

Taiko—a term that means ‘fat or big drum’—have traditionally been played for folk festivals and religious rituals in temples, shrines and in sacred forest sites.  Stimulated by massive economic growth of postwar Japan and its concomitant move of large populations to the cities, these urban communities soon developed a nostalgic interest in rural traditions and values and ultimately in their efficacy for the revitalization of their home village communities.  Also, in response to the notion of the Japanese community that the incessant intrusion of the modern was a product of Western enlightened reason, new forms of artistic expression were born. These forms often reflecting traditional source, but in opposition to customary decorative art, sought to express in a diverse and experimental manner a search for post-war identity.

The development of contemporary Taiko has played a role in this search.  In 1971 Den Tagayasu created Ondekoza, the first group that would take taiko from traditional performance sites to international concert stages. The name means ‘demon drumming’—derived from ‘Ondeko’,  a demon drum-dance invocation for a successful harvest or fish catch. Den Tagayasu describes Ondeko as having a contagious, spiritual, shamanistic power found in Shinto ritual.

‘Ondekoza’ refers both to ‘demon dancers’ or ‘artisans’ and is also present in ARC’s culminating section which features references to the demon-sword dance Oni Kenbai, originally a danced offering in order to comfort ancestral spirits, and later, provide inspiration and courage for soldiers before or after battle.  While Oni Kenbai consists of rhythms from the distant past, our performance will incorporate the rhythmic framework of the classical Indian tehai creating an expectant, forward momentum for both dancers and drummers. Our hope is our Oni Kenbai, as well as the full ARC performance, will not only provide comfort to our ancestors, but engagement and inspiration to all in our audience.

Professor Kim Arrow

ARC Residency at Swarthmore College

For a three-week period in July 2018, an entire cast of performers gathered at Swarthmore College’s Department of Music & Dance in order to create a performance titled ARC. This performance project combines music and dance idiosyncratically to explore how different musical genres collaborate or clash and how dancer/choreographers interpret the uniquely created rhythms.

This evening-length performance suite will bring together drumming traditions of tabla (from North India) and taiko (from Japan), along with contemporary Western, African Diasporic, and Southeast Asian dance.

“For instance, how does taiko drumming, known for tremendous sonic impact, interact with the complex rhythmic cycles and sounds of the tabla?” Swarthmore Dance Professor Joe Small asked. “How do the dancer/choreographers interpret the array of rhythms and sounds they can hear?  And conversely, how do the drummers respond to the actions of the dancer/choreographers?”

Taiko, or “fat drum” in Japanese, refers to designs and drums played in Japan and to the art of drumming in various formalized manners. Taiko has had a long history as an instrument, but as performance music, taiko is a post-WWII phenomenon. In North America, taiko was brought over by mostly working-class Japanese immigrants who used it as a form of community entertainment.

“As taiko involves physical dynamism – that is, it’s an embodied form of drumming that can be considered choreography in and of itself – practitioners (especially anyone who feels underrepresented) find the art quite empowering and a means to express their identity particularly in a manner that the public will take notice,” Professor Small said.

Tabla originates from the Indian subcontinent and consists of a pair of drums. Tabla is particularly important in Hindustani classical music since the 18th century. Playing the tabla involves extensive use of the fingers and palms in various configurations to create different sounds and rhythms.

Because of the combination of different musical genres, each artist had to step out of their comfort zones to better understand each other’s work and methodology. Therefore, the effective collaboration needed to create ARC’smusic and dance during its creative residency highly depended on an environment of mutual openness.

The cast consists of three tabla artists: Lenny Seidman, Jonathan Marmor, and Daniel Scholnick; three taiko artists: Joe Small, Kristy Oshiro, and Isaku Kageyama; and three choreographers/dancers: Laurel Jenkins, Annielille Gavino and Orlando Hunter.

ARC was conceptualized by Lenny Seidman, a tabla player and teacher, a composer, Co-Director of Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra, and Jazz Curator for Painted Bride Art Center. Seidman began studying tabla in 1971, but it was only when Seidman became a student of tabla maestro, Zakir Hussain, that he directed his performing focus exclusively to tabla.

As for Professor Small, he is not only an Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College, but also a professional taiko drum artist. His creative approach often incorporates postmodern choreography and performance art. Professor Small has been a member of Marco Lienhard’s ensemble, Taikoza, since 2009. He is a disciple of pioneering taiko artist Eitetsu Hayashi and the sole foreign member of his Japan-based professional ensemble, Fu-Un no Kai, since 2012.

“I was contacted by Lenny [Seidman] some time in 2016, inviting me to be part of the ARC project, as I’m a professional taiko drum artist” Professor Small said when asked how he became involved with the performance project.  “Having had the chance to collaborate with Lenny during my time as a Swarthmore undergraduate dance major in 2004-2005, I happily agreed to collaborate.”

ARC will be performed on Friday, October 5 at 8 pm in the LPAC Pearson-Hall Theater, and was financially made possible by support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and Swarthmore’s William J. Cooper Grant.

David Chan ’19