Author Archives: dpulley1

Tamagawa Taiko Returns for Annual Concert

Returning for its annual performance on Monday, April 15th, the Tamagawa Taiko Drum and Dance Group enters the nineteenth year in its close relationship with the Swarthmore Music and Dance Department. Since 2000, the Tamagawa Taiko Drum and Dance Group has garnered annual attention, loyalty, and enthusiasm from Swarthmore faculty and students, as well as members of the surrounding Greater Philadelphia region, with a performance each spring in Philadelphia’s Cherry Blossom Festival.

This close-knit relationship began when retired Professor Kim Arrow of the Swarthmore Dance Program met Tamagawa Taiko director, Isaburoh Hanayagi, at a Philadelphia dance festival in 1999. Since this first serendipitous meeting, Tamagawa Taiko’s presence and influence on students has grown tremendously. Professor Joseph Small, Swarthmore’s new taiko dance professor since Professor Kim Arrow’s retirement, remembers first hearing about Tamagawa University back when he was a student at Swarthmore in 2002. That spring during Tamagawa Taiko’s visit, Small and a few other taiko students learned the piece “Shin-Tamagawa Daiko,” now a mainstay of Swarthmore taiko’s repertory.

“As a member from 2003-2004, along with Alex Hudson ’05, I recall both the physical intensity and vigor of playing, as well as the intricacy of choreography occurring both at the individual level and between the group – sometimes relying upon pinpoint precision, sometimes asking for personal flair and character,” says Small.

It is precisely this vigor and intricacy that Tamagawa Taiko is known for. Small characterizes Tamagawa Taiko’s quintessential and unique style as bright, energetic, and heartfelt, with works consisting of both traditional folk rhythms and wholly new, contemporary choreography. This versatile repertory emerges out of the group’s diverse music and dance training at Tamagawa University. When Small did a semester abroad there, the training involved classes in Japanese folk dance, classical dance known as Nihon Buyo, and the more traditionally Western styles of ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz, tap, and hip-hop.

The students at Tamagawa Taiko however, are not only involved in music and dance training, but also in the production component of their tours and performances. During their first year at University, they are required to work as staff in production and stagework to learn the realities of what goes into a performance. With this kind of investment in their touring, the students in the Tamagawa Taiko group care deeply about what they share with their audiences.

Small hopes that both the students at Swarthmore as well as those in Tamagawa Taiko will have an opportunity to share and exchange culture and passion, taking note of the vast possibilities of taiko and its transnational dimension with Japanese cultural roots. In addition to the formal performance on April 15th in the  Lang Music Concert Hall at 7:30pm, there will be a smaller public performance by Swarthmore taiko students – to “drum up interest” – at 12:30pm in front of Parrish Hall.

Marion Kudla ’19

Gamelan Rings in the Spring

On Sunday, April 14 at 3pm, Gamelan Semara Santi will perform in Lang Concert Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Gamelan is the traditional ensemble music of Java and Bali in Indonesia, and is made up of primarily percussive instruments. Gamelan does not use notation, and is instead memorized by members of each ensemble. Written music does exist, but only serves to preserve specific pieces. The tempo is controlled by a hand-played drum called kendhang, while other musicians play a variety of traditional Indonesian xylophones, metallophones, flutes, and gongs, as well as several bowed and plucked instruments.

Central to Gamelan music is the idea of collectivity and community; there are no solos, and while musicians do rehearse in individual sessions, emphasis is placed on group participation. Professor Tom Whitman, who co-directs the Gamelan Semara Santi along with I Nyoman Suadin and Ni Luh Kadek Kusuma Dewi, says that community is one of the things that makes Gamelan so special: “I think it creates a real sense of bond that most of us really treasure.” He says that he’s observed something that he, somewhat jokingly, calls “Gamelan ESP:” “If I’ve got four people, and not one of them could play through a pattern by themselves, when they sit down together, they transmit it to each other and somehow they’re able to do it.” Gamelan, he says, allows people to do things in a group that they couldn’t do as individuals.

Gamelan instruments carry immense significance. Most of the keyed instruments are made of bronze which, Professor Whitman says, is considered very spiritually powerful. In Indonesian culture, bronze is said to retain the spirits of every person who has owned it. “I tell them they’re joining a community of people that has been playing the same instruments for more than twenty years. I sort of feel like everyone that’s been a part of it, stays with it.”

Another important aspect of Gamelan music is the dancing that goes along with it. Professor Whitman says that one of the things he likes to tell his students is that, “to do Balinese Gamelan without also doing dance is like performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony without the chorus – you kind of miss the point.” The upcoming performance will feature both musicians and dancers, all of whom will be dressed in traditional costumes.

Gamelan Semara Santi is made up mostly of Swarthmore students, but other community members have become involved as well. When asked about what one can expect from the upcoming concert, he says:“Beautiful, shimmering, bell-like sounds, great costumes, and a lot of stylistic variety. There’s a tremendously varied musical culture there [in Bali], and every one of the pieces we play sounds remarkable different from all the others.”

Gabriel Hearn-Desautels ’20

Let the Fetters Begin!

As Swarthmore slowly crawls into springtime, bringing with it all-too-brief snatches of warmth, rain showers, and allergy attacks, dozens of students across campus are preparing for one of the most important musical events of the year: the Fetter concert series, which this spring will take place on April 12, April 28, and May 4.

Dr. Michael Johns is the coordinator and director of the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program; as he explains, the Pollard family’s history is closely tied to that of Swarthmore. Elizabeth Pollard Fetter ‘25 and her husband, Frank Whitson Fetter ‘20, funded the original program in 1975 in memory of Elizabeth’s mother, also an alumna (Emilie Garrett Pollard, class of 1893). Dr. Johns has been directing the program (originally known as the Pollard Scholarship Funds) “since it expanded to support the coaching of multiple chamber music groups in 2001.”

“One of my fondest memories is from 2004, the hundredth anniversary of Elizabeth Pollard Fetter,” says Dr. Johns. “ In cooperation with her family, we invited every former Fetter participant, going back to the program’s inception in 1975, to return to campus for a day of celebration. People came from all over…groups reformed; friendships were rekindled. The highlight of the day was the concluding concert, which featured a mass performance of Mendelssohn’s String Octet.”

This year’s concerts feature a variety of genres and groups, including string and saxophone quartets, piano trios, and jazz combinations. Reuben Gelley Newman ’21 will be singing with Critical Mass, Swarthmore’s medieval and Renaissance a cappella group. This semester, they will be performing “…a variety of liturgical music dedicated to the Virgin Mary: a piece of a 9th century Byzantine chant…a chant by 12th century mystic, abbess and composer Hildegard von Bingen…and the credo from the 14th century French composer Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame.”

This is Gelley Newman’s fourth semester performing with Critical Mass as part of the Fetter series. As he explains, “I love the joy of working with students and faculty on challenging and interesting music, especially since you don’t hear medieval and Renaissance music performed very often. I’m tremendously grateful to Professor James Blasina for helping us delve into the history and performance practice, and to get advice from the famed medieval music group Sequentia when they did a residency at Swarthmore last February.”

Another student, Eleanor Naiman ‘20, is performing Joaquin Turina’s Piano Trio no.2 in B minor, which she describes as “a short but beautiful piece written in 1933, that is both challenging and extremely fun to play.” Naiman describes how “…the Fetter program provides chamber music groups with professional coaches…while also giving us the opportunity to meet weekly by ourselves to develop our own interpretation of the music. Fetter has been one of the highlights of my time at Swarthmore. It has made me a better musician and has also led to some of my closest friendships.”

As for Dr. Johns, his favorite aspect of the program is “…hearing the growth of the ensembles through the rehearsal process. The emphasis is on quality, not quantity…the goal is not to simply pick a difficult piece and rehearse it until you can be reasonably confident that it won’t break down in performance; it is to go beyond the notes to a point where the players understand what the composer had in mind and intuit how the piece works, culminating in a performance that is a musical conversation.”

While the Fetter programs are, according to Dr. Johns, “geared toward students who have advanced beyond the beginning stages and reached a certain level of achievement,” and students are required to audition, the primary requirement is a passion for and desire to practice chamber music. Students of a variety of instruments are welcome, not limited to the Western chamber musical canon. This semester’s concerts will take place on Friday, April 12, at 8 pm; Sunday, April 28, at 3 pm; and Saturday, May 4, at 3 pm in Lang Concert Hall.

Emilie Hautemont ’20

Wind Ensemble Performs Epic Works for Spring Concert

Andrew Hauze, director of the Swarthmore College Wind Ensemble, is excited for audience members to hear the ensemble’s energy and heart in their upcoming performance. The spring semester Wind Ensemble Concert will be held on April 13th, at 8:00 PM in Lang Concert Hall. Over the course of the fifty-minute program, audience members will experience a huge range of musical styles and cultures.

This semester, the Wind Ensemble will be playing Alfred Reed’s epic Armenian Dances, a new arrangement of a piano piece by Clara Schumann called Romanze, and Michael Gandolfi’s Vientos y Tangos. During the planning process for the upcoming concert, Hauze recognized that several students of the ensemble expressed an interest in playing some longer works, which led to Hauze’s decision to program Armenian Dances, a suite in four movements. “I’ve long wanted to program Alfred Reed’s multi-movement Armenian Dances, a work that incorporates many traditional tunes from Armenia into quite a symphonic texture, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” Hauze said. “I’ve also been meaning to program Michael Gandolfi’s Vientos y Tangos, a contemporary take on the tango, for quite some time, and it seemed like a nice counterbalance to the Armenian Dances.”

Kevin Medansky ‘19 of Haverford College is participating in this semester’s concert and he has experience playing Armenian Dances. “I had actually played Reed’sArmenian Dances on contrabassoon, and playing that part was so much easier compared to this time around!” Medansky said. “I expected this trombone part to be a breeze, but I’ve had to work so hard to get all the notes right.”

Medansky has been a member of the Swarthmore Wind Ensemble since the beginning of his sophomore year, playing the trombone. However, Medansky’s background in music goes all the way back to fourth grade, when he first began playing the trombone. For Medansky, Wind Ensemble is like a family and he is delighted to have another opportunity to perform onstage with the rest of the group. “Ultimately, I joined the Wind Ensemble because I love the music that goes into concert bands, and I wanted to join a community that had always been so impactful for me since I started trombone,” Medansky said. “I absolutely adore the community and I’ve gotten to know so many more people in the other sections, even though we’re not sitting next to each other in rehearsal, which feels really nice.”

This upcoming concert will feature work from an artist that the Ensemble has not performed before: Clara Schumann’s Romanze. “Professor Tom Whitman was interested in arranging Clara Schumann’s Romanze for our group, which I was thrilled to have him do, and it makes a nice contrast with an otherwise quite modern program (the other works were all written in the last 50 years),” Hauze said.

Medansky echoes Hauze’s excitement saying, “I really hope that people fall in love with Schumann’s Romanze just like I have. It’s such a beautiful piece, and it’s so different from what we normally listen to. With those three final chords, one achingly leaning toward the next, there is nothing I love more in our repertoire right now.”

The Wind Ensemble has been practicing three hours each week to prepare for this upcoming concert, and they are ready showcase all of their hard work. Join them on April 13th at 8:00 PM as they take their listeners on an emotional journey through their music.

David Chan ’19

Jazz Ensemble Plays Swarthmore and Beyond

Swarthmore’s campus is always bustling with students’ musical performances, from the Parrish Parlor concert series to senior recitals. This spring the Jazz Ensemble will not only be performing their usual semester concert, but will also be taking their talents to the outside world and treating the patrons of Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia to a musical evening.

The Swarthmore College Jazz Ensemble is holding their spring semester concert on April 7th, at 7:30 PM in Lang Concert Hall, and ensemble director Andrew Neu says that it will be a musical and emotional journey for those in attendance. The Jazz Ensemble performs a varied repertoire for each concert, with this upcoming concert featuring pieces from Count Basie, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Charlie Chaplin, Gordon Goodwin, Stan Kenton and Christina Aguilera. Furthermore, they will be playing the jazz standards “My One and Only Love,” “One Mint Julep,” and “Smile.”

The Jazz Ensemble Concert happens in both the fall and spring semesters, but Neu points out that it is easier to know the strengths of the ensemble for the spring concert. “Generally in the spring semester, we have a better idea of the personnel returning to the band and it helps knowing the strengths and personalities of the musicians when choosing repertoire,” Neu said. “That being said, we still devote a good amount of time sight reading music to find the best matches and I always look for input from the students and ask their opinions on the music we read.”

Neu states that there is always a “get to know each other” period when band membership shifts each semester. “Andrew Hauze (College Orchestra and Wind Ensemble Director) inspired us to start having a ‘juice break’ during rehearsal,” Neu said. “This breaks up a three-hour rehearsal and allows the band to socialize and connect outside of the rehearsal. It’s made a huge difference in the chemistry of the group.”

Pianist Jordan Ando ‘22 will be participating in the upcoming ensemble concert and agrees with Neu about negotiating the group dynamics in any new band. “A jazz big-band has four distinct sections, each often doing their own thing,” Ando said. “As you might imagine, there’s a lot of moving parts to fit together in each piece and it can take a lot of patience to run the same section over and over again but it’s worth it in the end.”

Having played jazz since he was twelve years old, Ando knew he wanted to join the jazz ensemble when he chose Swarthmore College, despite not majoring in music. Ando is most excited to showcase his own original pieces in the combo. “In addition to big-band, I’ll also be playing with a smaller group, currently consisting of Joe Scott ‘22, Owais Noorani ‘21, Peter Wu ‘22, and myself,” Ando said. “We’ll be performing the Hank Mobley standard ‘This I Dig of You,’ an arrangement I did of Nick Drake’s ‘River Man,’ and two original pieces I wrote. The four of us recently debuted this set in a lunch hour concert, and were pleased how it turned out.”

Last semester was the first time that the Jazz Ensemble Concert included student vocalists; Neu decided to expand that part of the program for the spring concert because it was a big hit with the previous audience.

Ando will have a role in the vocal component of the concert, playing some of the tunes to accompany the vocalists. “There’ll be some vocal features in there as well, including renditions of ‘Come Fly With Me’ and ‘Genie in a Bottle’ (the latter wonderfully arranged by Swarthmore’s own band director, Andrew Neu),” Ando said. “I’ll be playing half the tunes—there’s plenty more than are listed here—and the other half will be covered by the brilliant Leo Posel ‘22.”

Veronica Yabloko ’22, one of the vocalists, is on her second semester performing with the Jazz Ensemble. A passionate singer, she also takes vocal lessons through the Music 48 program, and is part of both the Swarthmore College Chorus and student a cappella group Mixed Company. However, “I’ve always been most drawn to jazz,” says Yabloko. “It’s my favorite style to sing by far. I also sang with my high school jazz ensemble so when I came to Swarthmore and heard that there was a jazz ensemble here, I right away asked if I could join it.”

Discussing her favorite pieces done as part of the Ensemble, she notes that “Andrew Neu is a great director, and the students who play in the ensemble are so talented…It’s quite an adrenaline rush to sing with a phenomenal ensemble backing of you. I really enjoyed singing ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ last semester, but some of this semester’s repertoire is a close second.”

The upcoming show at Chris’ Jazz Cafe, according to Professor Neu, “will be the first time we’ve taken the band off campus…I’m thrilled that more jazz fans will hear the amazing things that Swarthmore musicians can do.” The cafe itself, as he explains, “…is a mainstay in the Philadelphia jazz community. It’s one of a handful of full-time jazz clubs and has been around the longest. I’ve performed there many times over the years and built a good relationship with them.”

The performance will showcase songs from both the last and the current semesters’ repertoires, featuring music from a variety of artists – from jazz classics such as Ray Charles and Miles Davis to more contemporary music by Christina Aguilera. The show will take place at Chris’ Jazz Cafe (1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia) on April 16, from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased at To see the Jazz Ensemble at Swarthmore College, come to Lang Concert Hall on Sunday, April 7th at 7:30 PM.

David Chan ’19 and Emilie Hautemont ’20

Profile of Music Minor Lizzy Stant ’19

As a neuroscience major and music minor, Lizzy Stant ’19 has forged her own unique path at Swarthmore. Four years ago, Lizzy came in with little formal music training, having taught herself the guitar, piano, and voice, with some guidance from music choir directors at home. Attracted to the subsidized voice lessons and encouraged by a music program that works to offer equity for students from diverse backgrounds, Lizzy found her passion for music at Swarthmore.

Over the past four years, Lizzy has participated in the Swarthmore Chorus, Garnet Singers,the staged opera Dido and Aeneas, and a number of smaller music ensembles; she traveled to Florence for a life-changing, three-week voice program; attended the Royal Danish Academy of Music her junior spring for a semester abroad; and embraced the challenges of taking music theory classes, though she’d never had any formal music theory training before coming to Swarthmore.

Lizzy spoke to the benefits of not being afraid to seek out resources, particularly for students who come from underprivileged backgrounds and, prior to Swarthmore, were unable to afford the expense of formal music lessons:

“Low-income students have a hard time asking for help since we’re so used to having to do so much on our own, but it’s something I’m working on. A few other students from low-income backgrounds and I are currently making a resource guide for low-income students at Swarthmore. It’s meant to be from students for students.”

Utilizing tutors and working closely with her vocal coach and teachers have been ways that Lizzy has navigated the rugged terrain of Swarthmore. Now as a senior, with palpable passion, Lizzy has achieved a confidence and direction that is so apparent in her day-to-day activities and conversations. Music and opera have become pervasive forces in her life, crossing over into other interests in environmental studies, neuroscience, and varsity athletics.

“[As a neuroscience major] I see how anatomy and physiology carry over into vocal pedagogy and the way our brains perceive sound. Being a student athlete particularly carries over into singing. I think being an opera singer is equal to being an athlete, since they have similar skills of constantly having to improve yourself with tiny changes in what you’re doing and constant muscle memory – athletics and music are hand-in-hand in that way.”

She continued to speak on the relevance of opera in the 21st century within the context of an environment warped by climate change: “I can picture opera taking on a bigger role in society as we see more tragedies, especially those fueled by climate change. It’s such an intense art form, but I feel that it can be utilized to help people grieve through some of the most difficult things our planet is going to see.”

Lizzy will be performing cross-disciplinary pieces that use music to convey notions of nature, emotional and psychological healing, gender, and sexuality in her senior recital in April. She will be singing opera arias and opera duets with friends and fellow vocalists Emily Uhlmann, Omar Camps-Kamrin, and Shelby Billups; a set by Schubert focused on loss and mourning; a set by other European composers whose works use abundant nature imagery; compositions by African-American composer Florence Price, whose work Lizzy found and fell in love with while doing research on female composers; a musical theater piece; and her token audition song, “Animal Passion,” a piece that uses animal imagery to describe sexual desire and female sexuality.

Her senior recital on April 13th at 3pm in Lang Concert Hall will be a culminating showcase of just a fraction of her accomplishments at Swarthmore.

Marion Kudla ’19

Lab Orchestra Takes On the Big Bad Wolf

This spring, the Swarthmore College Lab Orchestra will be performing Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” alongside a narration of the fairytale. Composed in the early 1930s for a children’s theater in Russia, “Peter and the Wolf” combines a children-centric approach with the musical nuance and variation that adult audiences can also find appealing. Professor Andrew Hauze of the Music Program hopes that the piece’s duality will draw an array of audience members to the 10am performance on April 6th, targeting college students as well as families with young children.

“The great thing about ‘Peter and the Wolf’ is it’s a piece you can enjoy at absolutely any age because the music is so terrific and unsimplified. Though the music is very clear and approachable, it isn’t in any way simplified. So if you’re an adult who’s been listening to music your whole life you’re still going to find it interesting and compelling,” remarked Professor Hauze.

Yet at the same time, as a narrated fairytale, “Peter and the Wolf” accesses a child’s imagination and delights in its colorful representation of characters. The outline of this peculiar fairytale begins with Peter, a young boy playing in the woods outside his house, and a bird and a duck who are constantly teasing each other. Peter’s grandfather, a rather grouchy character, scolds Peter for playing outside and warns him about wolves that might be prowling in the area. And as soon as Peter goes inside, a wolf does indeed show up. For the rest of the fairytale, Peter, the bird, and the duck devise a plan to distract and catch the wolf. Towards the end of the tale, hunters show up in pursuit of the wolf, but instead of shooting the creature, the entire group brings the wolf to the zoo; and there, the story ends.

The story’s visual imagery and clear narrative have helped Shira Samuels-Shragg ’20 lead the orchestra. As the only current advanced conducting student, Samuels-Shragg has had the opportunity to rehearse with the Lab Orchestra for two hours each week with Professor Hauze’s guidance.

“One of the challenges for a conductor is getting inside the piece and figuring out what the music is saying, and what is fun about this piece is that there is no guesswork; there’s the narration and it’s a very explicitly told story. We have very visual imagery to work with, so having a literal cornerstone is helpful and fun,” Samuels-Shragg said about the rehearsal process.

In addition to explicit visual imagery and a straightforward narrative, “Peter and the Wolf” has specific instrumental representations for each of the characters: the bird is played by the flute, the duck is the oboe, the cat is the clarinet, the grandfather the bassoon, the strings are Peter, the horn is the wolf, and percussion are the hunters. All of these instruments constitute a 25-piece orchestra this semester, in addition to narrator Josie Ross, and of course conductor Samuels-Shragg.

Since its inception three years ago, the Lab Orchestra has taken on a variety of fun and unusual projects, including playing in the  pit for dance concerts at the Lang Performing Arts Center and performing at the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Arts. This spring’s project of “Peter and the Wolf” is another fascinating musical work to add to the Lab Orchestra’s diverse repertory.

“Peter and the Wolf” will be performed by the Lab Orchestra at 10am on April 6th at Lang Concert Hall at Swarthmore College.

Marion Kudla ’19

Amy Barston Takes the Stage with Ieva Jokubaviciute

Amy Barston began her Swarthmore College Featured Artist residency in fall 2018, hosting master classes with student chamber groups and playing the famous Dvořák Cello Concerto with the Swarthmore College Orchestra. On March 29th, Barston returns to Lang Concert Hall alongside pianist Ieva Jokubavaciute to perform a full-length concert program.

Barston is an accomplished solo and ensemble performer as well as an acclaimed private cello teacher, giving lessons both from her home and through the Juilliard Pre-college program. She regularly plays as a soloist with orchestras around the world, and is a member of the critically acclaimed Corigliano Quartet.

Shira Samuels-Shragg ’20, who played piano in a master class under Barston along with Herbie Rand ’21, gushed about Barston’s inspiring guidance: “With grace and enthusiasm, Amy Barston pushed us to see the piece and our respective roles within it from new vantage points. A particularly memorable breakthrough moment came when she gave us permission to ‘play against each other sometimes!’ We had been working so hard to operate as one unit that we had inadvertently smoothed over interesting textures and harmonies in the sonata. Once Ms. Barston helped us bring out an argumentative exchange here, an emphatically clashing rhythm there, the piece came alive in new ways.”

Since her graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music, Ieva Jokubavaciute has been wowing critics and audiences all across Europe and North America. Jokubavaciute is the pianist of the award-winning Trio Cavatina, and an assistant professor of Piano at the Shenandoah Conservatory.

Barston and Jokubavaciute have an extensive and exciting set of repertoire planned for the upcoming concert, starting with the classic J.S. Bach Arioso fromCantata no. 156, followed by a series of more contemporary works for solo cello, consisting of the fiddle tune “Julie-O” by Mark Summer, Giovanni Sollima’s “Lamentatio,” and “Poucha-Dass” by Francois Rabbath, rearranged from its original designation for solo bass by Barston herself. The first half of the concert is concluded with the lyrical and virtuosic Polonaise Brillante for cello and piano by Frederic Chopin.

The second half of the concert will feature Samuel Barber’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, and conclude with Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances.

Andrew Hauze ’04, who connected with Barston last summer and helped coordinate her visits to Swarthmore this year, expresses his excitement to see Barston in concert.

“I’m very much looking forward to Amy’s recital in Lang Concert Hall, a cornerstone of her residency here this year. Amy is such a communicative musician, and to hear her play with a fantastic pianist like Ieva Jokubaviciute in the intimacy and acoustic splendor of Lang Concert Hall promises to be an unforgettable musical experience for our campus community.”

Amy Barston and Ieva Jokubavaciute will perform in Lang Concert Hall on Friday, March 29th at 8:00 P.M, and Barston will give a master class with Swarthmore musicians on April 5th 4:00 P.M., also in Lang Concert Hall.

Andy Zhang ’22

Senior Recital: Rebecca Regan ’19

Rebecca Regan can’t remember a life without music. She smiles, trying to recall the moment when she discovered her musical passion, and eventually gives up. “I’ve been so surrounded by music for such a long time that nothing comes to mind, I guess.”

Growing up in a musical family, with a grandmother who taught out of her own piano studio, it was always a given that Rebecca would play music. Even as a toddler, she remembers toying with a little recorder, and she began taking piano lessons shortly after starting school. In middle school, she began playing the French horn in orchestra. However, Rebecca really found her calling as a singer. “Even as a freshman when I wasn’t taking lessons here I would go to practice rooms just on my study breaks just to sing. I would sing just any random things, like folk songs, pop songs Broadway, hymns, a bit of classical music, just anything that was in my head.” Despite all of this, Rebecca explains, “except for preparing audition pieces for country and state music competitions and festivals…I had never formally studied solo voice before coming to Swarthmore.”

Regan has taken a number of music-related courses, some of them academic, such as The Art of the American Musical with English Professor Eric Glover, and Opera History with Professor Barbara Milewski. She has also taken more practical classes, such as the private voice lessons offered through the Music 48 course, Modern Dance with Jumatatu Poe, and participated in various musical recitals and groups, including the Swarthmore Chorus and Garnet Singers (of which she is the soprano section leader).

“When I came to Swarthmore I wanted to audition for Chorus, and didn’t really expect it to go beyond that,” says Regan. “But I had always loved singing and sang a lot in my free time, and someone had suggested to me that I look into whether it would be a possibility to take voice lessons. So after my freshman year I decided I would give the Music 48 program a try. As I took voice lessons and got to know more and more people in the music department, I found myself involved in more and more projects, typically through the Fetter Chamber Music program and things like Monday lunchtime concerts.”

Regan specializes in Western art music – as she defines it, “art song, opera, and sacred music from the Baroque period into the early 20th century…my recital program, for instance, is all 19th century or very early 20th century, with a Handel aria included for a very different sound.”

The Fetter Chamber Music Program has allowed Regan to explore her musical interests; she has been regularly involved in the program since Fall 2017, and was in the ensemble of Dido and Aeneas in her freshman year. This year, she is part of the Opera Ensemble. In addition to classical music, she is interested in musical theater, and has performed in Drama Board’s Broadway Miscast event (a cabaret-like show) and the Fetter-funded performance of the opening number from Into the Woods. Regan continuously proves that all students, no matter how packed their schedules are, can be involved in Music and Dance.

In her last few comments, Regan warmly praises the Music Program, describing how

“On the whole I feel incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I have had to perform while at Swarthmore…the Music [Program] has been incredibly supportive of me from day one – especially as a non-major…and it makes me really happy to see the work that the department does to create opportunities for…students and community members who are less intensely focused on music or dance – there are so many people who are involved in an ensemble or take a dance class (like I did) or come to a workshop or performance who aren’t ‘part of the department’ but still collectively are a vital part of the arts at Swarthmore.”

“So I guess my advice to students at the beginning of their Swarthmore experience would be to keep an eye open for these experiences and take a chance on themselves. Sign up for that class! Audition for that thing! You may have a really memorable experience. And you may, like me, end up getting more involved than you ever expected and transform how you understand yourself in the process.”

While Rebecca’s plans for her future are far from concrete, she knows that she’ll keep pursuing what she loves. “Music is an integral part of my life and it would be hard to imagine not having music there at any point in the future. I mean at the end of the day,. I sing for myself. I sing because it brings me joy.” As for her future in English, she’s committed to continuing her education, but is looking for a few years of life experience outside of academia first.

Rebecca Regan’s senior recital will be on Saturday, March 23rd, at 8:00 P.M. in Lang Concert Hall. The program is composed of art songs by nineteenth and early twentieth-century composers such as Reynaldo Hahn, Ernest Chausson, Franz Schubert, Paolo Tosti, and Amy Beach. She will also perform opera arias by Georges Bizet and George Frideric Handel.

Emilie Hautemont ’20 and Andy Zhang ’22

Congratulations to LaDeva Davis!

Dance Program Associate in Performance LaDeva Davis, who teaches Tap technique and repertory at Swarthmore, received the 2019 Innovation Award in Dance Development last month at the Mann Center’s “Voices of Hope:” Black History Month Celebration. As a part of the event, the Mann Center honored four iconic educators throughout Philadelphia whose work and determination have greatly impacted the lives of the city’s students. We congratulate LaDeva for her well-earned accomplishment!