Category Archives: Music

Ethnomusicology Conference Hosted at Swarthmore

On April 6th and 7th, Swarthmore College hosted the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (MACSEM) conference. MACSEM, established in 1981, is one of ten regional chapters of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM). Founded in 1951, SEM promotes the research, study, and performance of music in its cultural, social, and political contexts. Each chapter of SEM holds a conference in their respective regions, providing an opportunity for students and ethnomusicologists to share current research. “Because of the smaller nature of the regional chapters it is also a wonderful opportunity to network and get to know other people in the area,” Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant said.

Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant, from the Department of Music and Dance, had several reasons why she wanted Swarthmore College to host this year’s MACSEM conference. The first was to help with the integration of more ethnomusicology into the Department of Music and Dance. Professor Bryant has been offering courses in ethnomusicology regularly, including a seminar on ethnomusicology this semester. “We planned for the seminar and conference to be held in the same semester so my students could help with the planning, hosting, and participation in the conference,” Professor Bryant said. “It was a unique opportunity for students to engage with graduate students, professionals, and faculty from other institutions, who are all working in various aspects of ethnomusicology.” Second, hosting the conference at Swarthmore College gave Professor Bryant the opportunity to work closely with outgoing President of MACSEM and Swarthmore alumna Shalini Ayyagari ‘00. “She was excited to return to campus for this year’s meeting and to work together on the conference planning,” Professor Bryant said. Lastly, hosting the conference at Swarthmore was a good way to bring together local ethnomusicologists from University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and the general region.

This conference’s keynote speaker was Professor Karen Shimakawa (pictured above) from New York University. Her lecture, titled “Catastrophic Sounds: Animacy and Equivalence,” examines the work of performance/video artist Eiko Otake, in her “A Body in Places” series, to consider how it situates viewers in time and space (aural and architectural) in order to make the catastrophe of capitalism perceptible.

Professor Bryant pointed out that in recent years, MACSEM invited speakers who were related, but not directly centered within the field of ethnomusicology. “Professor Shimakawa was invited to present this year’s keynote lecture because of her research and teaching interests in performance studies and Asian American performance, critical race theory, law and performance,” Professor Bryant said. “Her areas of expertise all provide engaged connections to/with ethnomusicology while also speaking to Swarthmore student interests.”

MACSEM was not only a space to share individual research; the conference allowed Swarthmore students to showcase their musical talents and abilities. Two pop-up concerts were held, featuring the Chinese Music Ensemble and the Taiko Ensemble.

Overall, Swarthmore’s hosting of this year’s MACSEM conference was a success, in terms of bringing together local scholars with a diverse range of interests within the field of ethnomusicology. Professor Bryant expressed great pleasure for her colleagues and her students who helped organize and plan the conference because she could not have succeeded without their generous support. “It was a really rare opportunity to have such a broad range of research presentations right here on campus for students to attend and ask questions. I was incredibly proud of their thoughtful questions and for the many engaged conversations they had with visiting ethnomusicologists,” Professor Bryant concluded.

David Chan ’19

swat taiko propel

Swarthmore Taiko Students Represent at East Coast Conference

“Growing Stronger” was the theme of this year’s East Coast Taiko Conference (ECTC), which was held at Cornell University from February 22nd to 24th. ECTC chose that theme with the hope to enrich participants’ knowledge of taiko and its community through the opportunity to learn the roots of various taiko styles, to strategize ways to improve group performances, and to build community. This conference has occurred annually since 2011, and this year’s conference saw an attendance reach up to about 200 taiko practitioners (collegiate, amateur, and professional).

A contingent of Swarthmore students from the Taiko Repertory class attended this conference, led by Professor Joe Small. These students are Josie Hung ’19, Hunter Lee ’19, Haruka Ono ’19, Shuang Guan ’19, Kira Emmons ’20, Faye Ma ’20, and Jason Wong ’21. This was the first ECTC for Swarthmore students and Professor Small could not have been more excited to bring his students to this year’s gathering. “I am overjoyed that Swarthmore students made the trip and got involved,” Small said. “Certainly one learns a lot from both theory and practice, but taking part in the community is a whole different way of understanding one’s self while learning about the art.”

Guan can attest to Professor Small’s sentiment that participating within a wider community of taiko practitioners is a very different way to practice and to learn taiko. “At Swarthmore, we learn taiko through preparing for one performance piece for the spring concert,” Guan said. “We don’t really get time to talk about the complexity and diversity of taiko, like its sociocultural/political importance, and what doing taiko looks like outside of Swarthmore. ECTC helped to expose me to some of its multitudes, whether that was the different instruments and playing styles of taiko, the different structures and purposes of other taiko groups, or the diverse peoples that are part of taiko.”

At the final concert of the conference, Professor Small, his colleague Isaku Kageyama, Hung, Emmons, and Wong all performed Small’s original composition called “Propel” as the opening performance. The piece is demanding, requiring stamina and technique, but Professor Small is proud of his three students who were able to excel under the pressure. “The audience’s response was an immediate and thunderous standing ovation,” Small said. “The best remark I heard was that it didn’t seem like ‘three students being pulled along by two professionals,’ but a performance where they carried their own weight and that of others.”

Hung felt deeply honored to have shared the stage with such talented and wonderful people, and she was surprised by the audience’s reception. “I did not expect that an opening performance could get a standing ovation,” Hung said. “But it was extremely rewarding getting a standing ovation as the first act of the night and then having various people come speak to us afterwards about being blown away and really enjoying it.”

All of the Swarthmore student attendees found that ECTC generated discussions among themselves about taiko’s relationship to Asian America. “The conference started some discussions among us Swatties about the nuanced ways taiko interacts with identity formation and empowerment, especially within Asian-America, and we’ve continued to have those discussions back at Swat,” Guan said.

At the same time, ECTC was critiqued for not addressing certain issues. “At ECTC, I found myself debating whether or not there should have been more room for critical conversations of taiko, positionality, and identity within the short span of the weekend,” Hung said. “The question is, considering the dynamics and demographics of the Asian American community now and the need to challenge the centralization of East Asians in conversations of Asian American identity and issues, can the taiko community be more inclusive to the wider Asian American community, and if so how?” Hung further extends this question to ask whether taiko can also be inclusive of non-Asian people of color.

Overall, ECTC has been an eye-opening experience for the Swarthmore students in attendance, with some of the seniors now contemplating joining a taiko group after graduation. The conversations about taiko’s relation to race, class, gender, and colonial history still continue today for these students back on campus, especially since Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant offers a seminar called “Taiko and the Asian American Experience.” In that class, students have an opportunity to develop a greater understanding of taiko within historical, cultural, and artistic contexts. Professor Small hopes that attending ECTC will become an annual tradition for Swarthmore students, and that they continue to take part in the greater taiko community even after college.

David Chan ’19

Profile of Music Minor Moses Rubin ’19

Before Moses Rubin ‘19 even arrived at Swarthmore as a freshman, they had the love and passion for music instilled within them. Rubin took their opportunity as a child of a musician living in New York City to explore and learn how to play different genres of music. When Rubin began taking guitar lessons at age seven, they became inspired by singer/songwriters like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. As they grew older, they explored punk and jazz music, admiring artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and James Brown. During their high school years, Rubin took their musical exploration even further and went out multiple times to various venues in New York City where live music was playing. They recall visiting “a bunch of jazz clubs and bars when [they were] in high school,” and they soon realized that no matter what they did with their life, they “needed to be around [music] all the time.”

Upon arriving at Swarthmore, Rubin didn’t originally intend on studying music in an academic setting, however, they still found a way to keep their passion for music alive by joining Caboose, a band which still actively performs today. Their involvement with Caboose helped fill the “artistic vacuum” Rubin said they felt during that time of their life. Caboose gave Rubin a community to belong to. Though Rubin writes their own songs and at times enjoys music on their own, being a part of Caboose helped them realize that they were their  “happiest when [they] were playing with other people”.

As they started to invest more dedication to Caboose and their individual musical pursuits, Rubin decided to study music academically to improve their musical skills. However, what Rubin values most from their music classes is not so much rooted in academics but more in the “spiritual” experience of music. Rubin learned through their classes to “think critically about music,” to appreciate its history and current stature while at the same time being able to criticize its limitations. According to Rubin, space is one realm of music that they “never really understood before Swarthmore.” Rubin sees Swarthmore as “a reflective and thoughtful place”, especially when it comes to the idea of taking up space though presence or expression, and “the most important skill” the music program has taught Rubin is to listen to the space they are taking up as an artist. By listening and engaging with the space that both the audience and performers are simultaneously altering, Rubin says “it becomes a shared experience,” and though Rubin has been around music their whole life, Rubin recognizes this “shared experience” of music as something “unique to Swat.”

Though many experiences Rubin has had with music are unique to Swat, they still plan to take all they have learned and apply it to their life after graduation. This summer, they will use their background in production by working as a sound designer for a dance company. In addition, they and another musician are working on an application to the Fringe Festival in Philadelphia. When Rubin graduates this spring, they will leave Swarthmore  “very excited to start [their] own musical projects.”

Maria Consuelo de Dios ’21

chorus

Variant 6 Performs with Garnet Singers and Chorus

On Friday evening at 8:00 in Lang Concert Hall, the Swarthmore College Garnet Singers and the Swarthmore College Chorus will present their spring concert under the direction of Joseph Gregorio and alongside featured guest ensemble Variant 6.

This concert will cap off Variant 6’s yearlong term as Featured Guest Artists, which included a masterclass with the Garnet Singers, a masterclass for solo singers, and several reading sessions for new works by student composers. “Variant 6 has contributed a great deal to the education of singers and composers in our Department this year,” says Professor Gregorio. “Singing alongside and getting helpful feedback from such highly polished and professional musicians elevated the level of music-making among our singers, and hearing Variant 6 read student compositions was an invaluable opportunity for student composers to learn about writing for voices.”

On the first half of Friday’s concert, the Garnet Singers will be joined by Variant 6 for their entire set, which comprises music composed by Sulpitia Cesis, John Wilbye, Francis Poulenc, David Conte, Lili Tobias ’19, and Benjamin Britten. All of the Garnet Singers’ pieces are connected in some way to the theme of plants, according to Gregorio. “I’ll admit that it’s a bit of a strange theme,” he says, “yet each of these pieces met the group at the right level and helped us grow as an ensemble.”

Variant 6 will perform an excerpt of Caroline Shaw’s To The Hands to conclude the concert’s first half.

The Chorus, accompanied by an orchestra of strings, brass, and chamber organ, will perform a set of polychoral music on the second half of the concert. Once again, in various roles determined by the needs of the music, Variant 6 will take part.  “Polychoral music comes in many varieties,” explains Gregorio.  “Much music for multiple choirs is written in eight parts, for two roughly equal choirs. However, music for three or more choirs also exists, as does music written for two unequal choirs.  Chorus will be lucky to have Variant 6 helping us bring this music to life in several ways — for example, Britten’s A Hymn to the Virgin (which he wrote when he was only sixteen years old!) asks that Choir II be sung by a semi-chorus or solo quartet. Variant 6 will serve as this small ensemble, while Chorus serves as Choir I. In Jacobus Handl’s Alleluia, cantate Domino canticum novum, which is scored for three choirs, Variant 6 will serve as one of the choirs, and Chorus, split in half, will serve as the other two. And in the other works Chorus is singing, which are scored for two equal choirs, Variant 6 will sing spread out among the members of the Chorus, as they will have done on the first half with Garnet Singers.”

Several facets of this semester’s choral concert stand out as unusual. “Aside from the remarkable and unique opportunity our singers will have to perform alongside Variant 6, the concert will feature two particularly noteworthy contributions from students,” Gregorio says. “For Wilbye’s madrigal Flora gave me fairest flowers, the combined forces of the Garnet Singers and Variant 6 will be led by assistant conductor and bass section leader Deondre Jordan ’19, who has rehearsed the piece all semester with the singers and shaped a beautiful interpretation of it. The Garnet Singers and pianist Mia Shoquist ’21 are also very proud to present the premiere of Herbae Ignotae (Unknown Plants), a piece by Lili Tobias ’19 that sets the names of plants in a language constructed by Hildegard of Bingen. I’m quite glad this concert features Deondre’s and Lili’s work so prominently; they have been stalwart members of both choral ensembles during their time at Swarthmore, and both groups and I will miss them dearly when they graduate. We’ll also be saying goodbye to soprano and tenor section leaders Rebecca Regan ’19 and Ben Warren ’19, who have likewise contributed immensely to Chorus and Garnet Singers.”

Desta Pulley ’17

CME F18

Chinese Music Ensemble Highlights Student Soloists

On Sunday, April 28th, the Swarthmore College Chinese Music Ensemble will hold its spring concert, performing traditional and contemporary music inspired by musical traditions from a variety of ethnic groups and regions across China and its Diaspora. Students will also perform on traditional Chinese instruments such as the guzheng (zither), erhu (bowed fiddle), pipa, (plucked lute) yangqin (hammered dulcimer), dizi (flute), and percussion. Both the students as well as the co-directors, Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant and Professor Guowei Wang have rehearsed every week as an ensemble and individually in preparation for this day.

According to Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant the program lineup for this semester is “definitely driven by the individual and collective talents of [the] particular group of students in the ensemble.” At the beginning of each semester, Professor Bryant and Professor Wang assess the interests, experience, and abilities of the students and suggest pieces for them to practice during the semester and eventually perform near the end. However, nearly all of the students who performed in the Chinese Ensemble during the fall semester continued on this spring, so there was more room this semester to work on each student’s strengths.

Some special features this semester include solos by Josephine Hung’19 on dizi (bamboo flute) and Shirley Liu’22 on guzheng (zither), and a small group of erhu students, Han Chen’22, Rebecca Lin’22, Faye Ma’20, and Jeffrey Zhou’19, with Daisy Lee’22 on ruan (lute). Liu says it is a “great honor for [her] to perform the solo piece ‘Dawn in Spring on the Snowy Mountain’” and is striving to “present this piece at her best capacity this Sunday.”

If an audience member is familiar with Chinese music, Professor Bryant says that “there should be some recognizable pieces in [the] spring program to enjoy.” However, for an audience member who is not familiar with Chinese music, the hope is for such people to “enjoy the variety of pieces on the program,” to “understand what the individual instruments each sound like as well as how the ensemble sounds together,” and to appreciate the fact that “though the instruments in the ensemble each carry different histories in, into, and around China, the modern Chinese orchestra is something that emerged in the nineteenth century.” Audience members are encouraged to come and witness the Chinese Ensemble perform, even if they have attended the ensemble’s recitals in previous semesters, to see “different students featured, a new repertoire, and a continued development of [the] Chinese Music Ensemble at Swarthmore.”

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 28th, at Lang Concert Hall.

Maria Consuelo de Dios ’21

Orchestra concert hall

Orchestra Tackles Symphony, Opera, and Student Composition

With the semester coming to a close, the Swarthmore College Orchestra is preparing for their final concert of the 2018-2019 season.

Coming off of their performance of the classic Dvořák Cello Concerto last semester with Amy Barston, director Andrew Hauze ’04 describes the SCO’s upcoming program as an “exciting mix of familiar and unfamiliar music.” The concert will feature Amy Beach’s “Gaelic” Symphony in E minor, debuted in 1896 as the first symphony ever published by a female composer. Beach herself was heavily influenced by Dvořák’s work, and wrote the “Gaelic” Symphony as her own take on the concept of a “New World Symphony.” “I’ve been wanting to program the piece for years,” writes Hauze, “but a new edition didn’t come out until 2017, finally correcting many errors and making the parts easy to read (they had previously been copies of old handwritten parts!). It’s an intensely powerful work, filled with Irish folk tunes blended into Beach’s own grand style.”

Along with the Beach symphony, the Orchestra will also be playing two operatic classics: Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville and “Micaela’s Aria” from Bizet’s Carmen featuring Rebecca Regan ’19, as well as debuting On Narrow Foot-Bridges, a tone poem by Swarthmore’s own Lili Tobias ’19.

“There were many lovely coincidences surrounding the first half of the program,” Hauze explains. “Lili has been a force for community building in our program over the last several years, as she has been regularly showcasing student performers in premieres of her own music and revivals of neglected works by women composers in Parrish lunchtime concerts and on her own senior recital. Lili’s comprehensive exam was on her specialty, the music of Amy Beach, so I was delighted to be able to include a new work by Lili alongside the Beach symphony.”

The coincidences don’t end there. Rebecca Regan, a soprano and Swarthmore’s 2019 Concerto Competition winner, regularly collaborates with Tobias to debut vocal works, and her original composition will be conducted by assistant conductor Shira Samuels-Shragg ‘20 on Saturday.

The Swarthmore College Orchestra will perform on Saturday, April 27th at 8:00 PM in Lang Concert Hall.

Andy Zhang ’22

tamagawa taiko drummers

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 players

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

fetter jack and alice

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

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