Category Archives: Music

chorus picture 2

From Boulanger to Bernstein, College Chorus and Garnet Singers Celebrate Centennials

On Saturday, December 8th, at 3:00 pm in the Lang Concert Hall, the Swarthmore College Chorus and Garnet Singers, directed by Joseph Gregorio, will perform their fall concert. The Swarthmore College Chorus is a mixed ensemble comprised mostly of students, but is also open to faculty, staff, and community members. The Garnet Singers is a subset of the Chorus, composed of approximately twenty-four students, focused on works more intimate than those sung by the Chorus.

The Garnet Singers will be performing works in some way connected with the year 1918, and the Chorus will perform pieces by Leonard Bernstein. “1918 turns out to have been a significant year in music history as well as in world history,” Gregorio said.

Gregorio has always wanted to program Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Chorus. Since it is the centenary of Bernstein’s birth, it seemed like the perfect timing to have such a program. In addition to Chichester Psalms, Gregorio chose to incorporate a few songs from West Side Story. “To represent Bernstein’s oeuvre more fully, I thought it would be nice to round out Chorus’s program with a few songs from West Side Story, which has some interesting musical connections toChichester Psalms,” Gregorio said.

Gregorio also notes that coincidentally, 1918 was the year of the death of three magnificent composers: Lili Boulanger, Claude Debussy, and Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. To further explore the theme and significance of 1918, the Garnet Singers will be performing a set that includes one work by each of these composers. Additionally, several other pieces will be included in the performance that have roots in the events of 1918.

This fall concert will also feature an original work by Lili Tobias ‘19. “The ensemble is especially excited to perform the premiere of Tobias’s piece, which Tobias wrote for us as a musical reflection on Lili Boulanger’s song ‘Reflets,’” Gregorio said.

Another student, Deondre Jordan ’19, will conduct the performance of Stephen Chatman’s In Flanders Fields.

Over the last five and a half years, the Chorus has doubled in size, presenting a continual challenge for Gregorio as well as the members of the group. Everyone must adapt to the current size of the group in order to continue making music at a high level. “Both ensembles, along with student pianist Mia Shoquist ’21, have worked tremendously hard to prepare for our December 8 concert,” Gregorio said. “The Garnet Singers have not only put in a great deal of musical work, but have also given generously of their psychological energy to bring to life music that is sometimes emotionally taxing to sing.”

“As ever, I am coming to the end of the semester with immense gratitude toward all of the musicians in our choral ensembles for all they have shared of themselves to make the concert a success,” Gregorio concluded.

David Chan ’19

Gamelan:CME picture

Gamelan and Chinese Music Ensemble Perform in Joint Concert

When asked what they hope students get out of participating in their respective music ensembles, Professors Lei Ouyang Bryant and Tom Whitman both make reference to communal music-making as a way to escape the numerous pressures experienced by a typical Swarthmore student.  “I think it is great for Swatties to play music for two to four hours a week amidst the rest of their busy schedules,” says Bryant, co-director of the Chinese Music Ensemble (CME).  Whitman, co-director of Gamelan Semara Santi (Gamelan), which plays music from Bali, Indonesia, puts it a bit more bluntly: “It is my hope that students find in Gamelan a place to rid themselves of the stress that is endemic at Swarthmore.”

Beyond just stress relief, though, Bryant and Whitman hope that their respective groups provide space for community members to either explore a different music culture or celebrate and recognize their own.  Whitman runs Gamelan rehearsals “Indonesian style—without any notation, and with minimal talking or analysis. I’d like our sessions to create a safe space where students can learn about Balinese culture by doing, rather than by reading or talking.”  For her part, Bryant sees the CME “as a valuable site on campus where Asian students, Asian American students, and students interested in Chinese culture can work together and find community with each other.”

Enthusiasm for such a community is evident in the fact that enrollment in CME has more than doubled in its first three semesters.  The ensemble is open to all, although most of this semester’s 25 members came in with some musical training. However, few had experience with traditional Chinese instruments such the guzheng (zither), erhu (bowed fiddle), pipa (plucked lute), yangqin (hammered dulcimer) or dizi (flute).  Bryant’s co-director Guowei Wang, a Shanghai-born erhu artist, arranges folk songs and more recent Chinese and Taiwanese compositions to tailor them to the specific skill levels and talents of the current crop of students.  Bryant describes the CME as “so fortunate to have [Wang] co-directing the ensemble and developing repertoire that everyone, from beginner to advanced, can play within one semester of study.”

Gamelan is also open to students—and Swarthmore community members—regardless of musical background, and is perhaps slightly more accessible to newbies due to the percussive nature of its instruments, which consist of mostly bronze-keyed xylophones, gongs, and drums.  But while hitting a gong might as a technical act be a bit easier than playing a fiddle, for example, the overall musical product is quite complicated, with each person playing an essential rhythmic role. Says senior Aly Ye, who has been a part of Gamelan for all of her four years at Swarthmore, “I love the complexity of the music and the challenge of learning it together, part by part, as an ensemble.”  The tightly interwoven percussive parts result in a soundscape that is, according to Whitman, a “beautiful texture of different layers.”

Another non-sound layer is sometimes added to the mix when Gamelan pieces are accompanied by dance.  Whitman explains that, “in Bali, dance and music are two facets of the same coin,” and that “while there are many pieces of instrumental music that do not accompany dance, all are informed by the spirit and many specific techniques from Balinese dance.”  This close relationship has been evident to Ye, who will dance and play in the upcoming show. She says that “because the dance is so closely tied to the music, I feel like I’ve gained deeper insight into why the music moves and changes in the way that it does…. there are many times when something is emphasized in the music that, when I’m learning the dance, suddenly make more sense.”  Whitman states that his lack of dance training is “one of my biggest weaknesses as a gamelan director. But we are extremely fortunate that our co-directors, I Nyoman Suadin and Latifah Alsegaf, come to campus. They bring to our ensemble that dimension of dance that I am not competent to teach.”

Audiences can come experience this auditory and visual feast in person on Sunday, December 2nd at 3pm, in the Chinese Music Ensemble and Gamelan Semara Santi’s combined end-of-semester concert.  The performance will be held in Lang Concert Hall and is free and open to the public. Families are welcome!

Lydia Roe ’20

Fetter group

Opera, Jazz, Sonatas, and More Featured in Fetter Concerts

On Friday, November 30th at 8:00 pm in the Lang Concert Hall, the semester’s first concert of the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program will be held. The Department of Music and Dance has been supporting the Fetter Chamber Program for four decades, allowing student musicians to receive professional coaching. Students must audition in order to participate in the program. Student musicians are then divided into various groups that meet weekly for ten one-hour coached rehearsals, as well as a weekly one-hour self-directed rehearsal. This consistent rehearsal process culminates in a performance at the end of the semester.

Dr. Michael Johns is the current director of the Fetter Chamber Music Program. His role is to help set up the semester, put the programs together, pair groups with appropriate coaches, and monitor how the groups are progressing. In general, the selection of groups, performing partners, and repertoire are student-generated. “When someone expresses an interest in participating but does not have a partner, I help to build a group,” Dr. Johns said.

Although the Fetter Chamber Music Program was put in place to fund coaching for student musicians, the weekly self-directed rehearsal is what ultimately shapes the performance that the audience will see. “This is an important aspect because chamber music is a conversation among equals and members of the group must develop their own internal dialogue,” Dr. Johns said.

Eleven student groups will perform, including duos for flute/piano, violin/piano, two pianos, piano four-hands, and cello/piano; a piano/violin/cello trio; some late Middle Ages, gospel, and opera vocal selections; a jazz combo and an improvisation group. “As you can see it is an eclectic mix with, literally, something for everyone,” Dr. Johns said. “The concerts will span 700 years of musical history, from improv being conceived in the moment to works from the 14th century.”

This year’s preparation for the concert has been quite different than in previous years because some students expressed interest in mounting an opera.

“Preparing for the preview in this semester’s concert has been particularly unusual because we haven’t actually staged the opera yet,” Rebecca Regan ‘19 said. “We’ve had to be creative and put together a semi-staged performance, which communicates the theatricality of the piece in a way that’s presentable and dramatically effective, even in the absence of full blocking.”

Regan will be one of the six featured sopranos in The Audition, which is a one-act comedic opera conceived by Martha Collins. Collins wrote the libretto and arranged music that was originally composed by Franz von Suppé.

The Audition is unequivocally an ensemble piece, but nevertheless as an opera it goes back and forth between choruses and solos/duets,” Regan said. “Hence, it required an extra degree of flexibility and independence in making sure to do the work we needed to do on our solo parts while working on the choruses together.”

“One lovely thing about this music — the opening number, ‘Audition Jitters,’ in particular — is that the six parts weave together in a number of different ways and each character interacts musically with multiple others,” Regan continued.

The other two pieces that will be performed in the concert had a more traditional preparation process. Berlin Chen ‘19 will be playing the violin in the Piano Trio in a Minor, which was composed by Joseph Maurice Ravel in 1914.

Piano Trio in a Minor follows the standard plan of a piano trio, with the first and fourth movements in sonata form surrounding a scherzo/trio and slow movement. The piece is dramatic in mood due to the many ebbs and flows, and to its large dynamic range.

“Ravel Trio is a tricky piece to play!” Chen said. “For example, there are places where the piano and the strings have different time signatures, so we had to count carefully to make sure we were playing together.”

“Also, the piece has many delicious chords and has interesting use of harmonics in the strings, so I think the performance will be colorful and refreshing.” Chen continued.

Because each semester’s rehearsals and concerts are all unique, student musicians who participate in the Fetter Chamber Music Program always have a chance to challenge themselves and grow.

“It is incredible to hear the amount of growth and maturation from the beginning of the semester to the performance,” Dr. Johns said. “Everyone, without exception, plays up to or exceeds their individual abilities and the students are justifiably proud of their accomplishment.”

Following the first concert on Friday, November 30th will be two more concerts. The second concert will be held on Sunday, December 2nd at 7:30, and the third will be held on Friday, December 7th at 8:00pm.

David Chan ’19

hans ludemann

Pianist and Professor Returns to Swarthmore with Music and Monologues

Pianist Hans Lüdemann is returning to Swarthmore College to hold two performances in December. Previously, Lüdemann taught at Swarthmore as a Cornell Visiting Professor during two academic years: 2009-2010 and 2015-2016. In his first year at Swarthmore, Lüdemann taught “Jazz Today” and “African Music,” while in his second year, he taught “Improvisation” and “Jazz History.” One of the reasons why Lüdemann was invited to teach at Swarthmore was his connections to other artists.

“I was able to invite several of the artists I collaborate with to Swarthmore for concerts and workshops such as the TRIO IVOIRE with Aly Keita, singer Chiwoniso, violinist Mark Feldman and the trio ROOMS,” Lüdemann said. “The final performance was a collaboration between the TRIO IVOIRE, saxophonist Andrew Neu, and the College Jazz Ensemble.”

Currently, Lüdemann is not teaching regularly, except for occasional guest lectures and workshops. Instead, he is touring as a solo pianist in China, playing concerts in four cities—Shenzhen, Ruijin, Guangzhou, and Beijing. Furthermore, Lüdemann is associated with an artist with the record labels BMC and Intuition, and with publisher Schott (the original publisher of Beethoven). He is expecting two new releases next year. For 2019-2020, Lüdemann will be very busy working on solo recitals, touring South Africa, and composing an opera to premiere in 2020.

Although Lüdemann is currently stacked with various projects, his main desire in music has never changed. “My main interest always was, and still is, to invent and to create original music and to follow an artistic path of my own,” Lüdemann said. “I have also always been interested in exploring different musical sources and to draw from those sources.”

On Wednesday, December 5th at 12:30pm in Parrish Parlors, the Department of Music and Dance with the Departments of German and Media Studies will present a special lunch hour concert featuring Lüdemann and saxophonist Andrew Neu, who is also director of the Swarthmore College Jazz Ensemble.

Neu is looking forward to reconnecting with Lüdemann and anticipates a spontaneous concert. “We performed together several times during his tenure here, and we always had very natural chemistry,” Neu said. “We haven’t planned what we’re going to do yet, but that’s not unusual for jazz artists.”

For Lüdemann, he does not know what to expect for his upcoming performance because he never performs twice in the same way.

“There will be improvisation with emotional and atmospheric depth and there will be composed pieces and parts that are very melodic and concentrated,” Lüdemann said. “At times the music can be meditative and introspective, in other moments very lively and expressive.”

“It certainly should be an intense, fun, entertaining, and hopefully also moving experience, and the concert will also depend on the communication between artists and public, that plays an essential part in the creative process,” Lüdemann continued.

In addition to the lunch hour concert, Lüdemann will have a performance incorporating Swarthmore student monologues on Thursday, December 6th from 7:00-8:00 pm at Parrish Parlors. This performance originates from a collaborative project between Lüdemann and German writer Antje Ravic-Strubel. “The intention is to develop ideas in a workshop situation that combine the declamation of texts with musical concepts,” Lüdemann said. “It is a new project initiated by German professor Ute Bettray, and I am very curious myself if it will evolve into something very precise and composed, or if the formats we develop will be more of an improvised nature.”

“I always found that Swarthmore was an inspiring place to be, and a great place to develop and sharpen one’s senses and skills, while being embedded in a very cooperative and social environment. I hope Swarthmore still is and will continue to be this kind of a place, and I am glad to become part of that again, even if it is just for some days this time,” Lüdemann concluded.

David Chan ’19

amy barston

Orchestra Features Amy Barston in Upcoming Concert

As the end of the fall semester approaches, the Swarthmore College Orchestra is preparing for its fall concert, featuring renowned cellist Amy Barston. Barston is one of the Department of Music and Dance’s Featured Artists for the 2018-19 year.

Barston is an incredible musician who has played as a soloist with a number of prestigious orchestras, including a performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of seventeen. She’s also a Juilliard graduate and a cello teacher for the Juilliard Pre-College program, and held a master class for musicians at Swarthmore earlier this month.

The Swarthmore College Orchestra will be playing the Dvorak Cello Concerto with Barston. “When Amy Barston agreed to be one of our Featured Artists this season, we started to talk about what concerto she might play with the orchestra,” recounts orchestra director Andrew Hauze ‘04. “The Dvorak was at the top of both of our lists: not only is it an exquisitely beautiful piece, but it is really symphonic in conception, with a breadth and variety in the instrumental writing that shows Dvorak at his most orchestrally inventive.”

Dvorak was noted to have been originally reluctant to write a concerto for cello, arguing that the cello’s range was utterly unsuited for solo playing with orchestral accompaniment. However, it is now hailed as perhaps one of the greatest concertos of all time, full of beautiful melodic interplay and compelling themes.

Hauze explained his thought process for why he found the Dvorak particularly well-suited for the Swarthmore College Orchestra.

“In an academic setting it’s always best if we can find concerti that will be fulfilling for the orchestra to rehearse alone (without the soloist) for most of the semester, and, in my opinion, the Dvorak has one of the most interesting orchestral parts of any concerto in the standard repertoire. The first movement is on a grand and dramatic scale; the second movement is almost like a wind serenade, filled with prayers, laments, tender beauty, and a funeral march; and the last movement seems to evoke Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, eventually melting into a ‘long goodbye’ when Dvorak lands in B Major and seems to just want to linger, finding new and ever more beautiful ways to reaffirm our ‘home’ key.”

The other feature for the fall concert is Schumann’s Symphony no. 3. However, this was not the original plan for the fall semester.

“For most of the summer I had planned to pair the Franck D Minor Symphony with the Dvorak concerto,” said Hauze. “I was all set to program it until we had some changes in our personnel: fewer low brass players and not quite as many woodwinds, but lots of new string players! The Franck was no longer as good a fit for our instrumental makeup, and so I decided just before our first rehearsal to substitute Schumann’s Third Symphony.”

Schumann’s Third is a personal favorite of his. “It has magnificent passages for each section of the orchestra. It is also a tremendously life affirming piece and, despite being at times very tiring for the orchestra (as Schumann loves for lots of people to be playing at once), its extraordinary energy and variety of moods make it a deeply satisfying musical experience for player and listener alike. I particularly love the solemn and somewhat creepy fourth movement (a memory of a religious procession outside the majestic Köln Cathedral) that is answered by a jolly and bubbling Finale.”

The Swarthmore College Orchestra’s fall concert is December 1st, at 8:00 pm in Lang Concert Hall.

Andy Zhang ’22

(Dan Z. Johnson / staff photographer)

From Copland to War, Swarthmore Students are Jazzing it Up

On Sunday, November 18, Swarthmore College’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo will perform various music from famous composers like trumpeter Clifford Brown, the band War, pianist and organist Count Basie, Aaron Copland, pianist George Gershwin, and Henry Mancini. It is the wish of Andrew Neu, director of the Jazz Ensemble and one of the college’s Associates in Performance, that the concert will showcase “jazz standards” (like music by Clifford Brown) and music from “legendary big bands” (like music by Count Basie and War) while also highlighting the musical “strength and personality of the band.”

This concert is particularly unique because two of the pieces that will be performed include vocals to be sung by Swarthmore students, a rare occurrence according to Neu. The students who will be singing are Veronica Yabloko, Shelby Billups, Ben Warren, and Omar Camps-Kamrin.

Billups says she is “ immensely excited to not only be singing in a quartet with other talented singers, but to be singing alongside such a large band. This will be my first time singing jazz with a full band and in such a large setting, and I’m so lucky to get to do this with such a talented group of musicians.” Warren also expresses similar enthusiasm, excited for this “ rare opportunity to get to perform with a big band.” He says, “The voice program here [Swarthmore] deals mostly with classical music, and while I love it, it’s always nice to broaden my horizons as a performer.”

In addition to jazz standards and classics like “I’ll Remember Clifford,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and “Basie Straight Ahead,” the ensemble will also perform “TSC Blues,” “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “The World is a Ghetto,” pieces that were written “written exclusively for jazz ensembles.” “TSC Blues” is an original composed by Brain Pastor, a Philly locale and principal trombonist of the Philly Pops. “Fanfare for the Common Man,” arranged by Aaron Copland, is a creative, somewhat “unusual” interpretation of music originally purposed for brass and percussion. “The World is a Ghetto” is Andrew Neu’s own arrangement, which, he feels is “nothing like the original.” While the original music leans more towards being R&B, Neu’s arrangement is more “idiomatic towards a jazz ensemble,” almost resembling a jazz waltz.

The full program lineup is: “Basie Straight Ahead,” “TSC Blues,” “I Remember Clifford,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Love Beams,” “And What if I Don’t,” “Look to the Sky,” “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Come Rain or Shine,” “Dreamsville,” “Riverscape,” and “the World is a Ghetto.” “And What if I Don’t” and “Look to the Sky” will be performed by the Jazz Combo, a separate and smaller ensemble of students supported by the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program, and the pieces that will include vocals are “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Come Rain or Shine.”

The event will start at 7:30 P.M. in the Lang Concert Hall, and it will be live streamed.

Maria Consuelo de Dios ’21

Wind ensemble

Wind Ensemble Explores Folk Music Traditions

The Swarthmore College Wind Ensemble is holding its annual fall program on Saturday, November 17th at 8:00 pm, located at the Lang Concert Hall.

The Wind Ensemble is a Tri-College group, welcoming student musicians from both Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College. The ensemble is directed by Professor Andrew Hauze ‘04.

The repertoire for this concert will feature songs originating from different places around the world. The songs include Percy Grainger’s Irish Tune from County Derry and Shepherd’s Hey, Chen Yi’s Suite from China West, Frank Ticheli’s arrangement of Shenandoah, and Darius Milhaud’s classic Suite Française.

When Hauze plans for each Wind Ensemble concert, he must take into consideration student enrichment, audience reception, and performance cohesiveness.

“Each semester in Wind Ensemble, I try to pick pieces across a range of styles, moods, and technical challenges that will be enriching to work on for the whole semester, but also make a satisfying concert experience for the audience,” Hauze said.

For this fall’s repertoire, Hauze put together an eclectic group of pieces that share a common origin in traditional folk music.

“I had been looking at a number of these pieces for awhile, and I realized that it would be fun to program them all together, as they are all settings or reinterpretations of traditional folk songs (from, respectively, Ireland, England, China, America, and France),” Hauze said. “Though they’re all based on tunes that would be sung in everyday situations over hundreds of years, the ways that these tunes are approached by each composer are remarkably different!”

Out of the repertoire, Hauze is excited to explore one specific piece due to its challenging nature.

“I am particularly excited for the audience to hear Chen Yi’s Suite from China West, a relatively recent piece (written in 2005) by the distinguished Chinese American composer Chen Yi,” Hauze said. “It has been a huge challenge to put together, but the group is sounding great, and the sounds that Dr. Chen finds in this piece are extraordinary.”

The decision to include Chen Yi’s Suite from China West is partly influenced by the big presence of traditional Chinese music on Swarthmore’s campus. Hauze attributes this presence to the Swarthmore College Chinese Music Ensemble, which is led by colleague Professor Lei Ouyang Bryant.

This year’s Wind Ensemble is a bit larger than previous years, composed of thirty-nine members. Additionally, six professional musicians will be joining the student musicians during the concert.

“Working with the Wind Ensemble is always a joy, and this semester has been particularly fun because we’ve had a larger group than normal and the energy has been so lively and positive,” Hauze said. “The students have worked extremely hard to prepare a challenging program, and we’re really excited to share it with everyone.”

David Chan ’19

lili tobias

Profile of Music Major Lili Tobias ’19

Like many a Swarthmore student, Lili Tobias ’19 finds herself graduating this year with a somewhat different degree than her younger self had anticipated.  She came to Swarthmore planning to major in linguistics, but soon, as she describes it, “music took over my life. And so now I’m a music major and linguistics minor.”

For Tobias, though, that academic transition was less a tortured decision than natural progression, something that “just happened.”  A pianist in high school, at Swarthmore she began taking classes in theory, composition, and musicology, and joined the Swarthmore College Chorus and the Garnet Singers.  Eventually she realized that most of her classes were related to music, and that those were the ones she really cared about. “The department really felt like home to me,” she says of choosing to focus on music.  “I knew all the professors, I knew all the other majors… it just felt like that’s where I belonged.”

That sense of community is what Tobias names as the best part of her experience in Swarthmore’s music program, which although it may be small—there are only two majors in her year—is plenty mighty.  She sees its size as a defining positive attribute, saying that “it’s so welcoming and we’re very close knit. The best friends I’ve made here” tend to be “connected to the music department in some way.”

The small size also affords a lot of personalized academic attention and opportunities.  Tobias has taken a composition course, the only repeatable course in the department, every semester since sophomore spring.  After one’s first time taking it, the class functions like an independent study, so, she explains, “it’s very individualized.”  She gets tailored listening assignments from Professor Gerald Levinson, a well-recognized contemporary classical composer, that he thinks will relate to the direction of Tobias’s own work.  She’s also had the opportunity to compose several pieces for the college Chorus and Garnet Singers, with the encouragement of its director Joseph Gregorio.

Tobias says she tends to listen to and compose mostly classical music, and especially admires “women composers of the past and of the present.  I identify with them because there’s just a lot fewer women that go into composition.” She’s currently writing her senior comprehensive paper on Amy Beach, a composer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Beach was an American musical prodigy who started composing as soon as she learned to play the piano as a young child, and, although she’s rarely part of modern classical repertory, earned in her own lifetime unusual acceptance and success in an overwhelmingly male field.  For her senior comprehensive, Tobias will not only analyze Beach’s work from a theoretical and musicological perspective, but also perform on piano three of her songs, with soprano Rebecca Regan ’19.

She’s unsure as of yet as her exact plans post-graduation, although she says that “going into music publishing is something that’s definitely appealing to me.”  Tobias got a taste of the business as an intern this past summer with Schott Music, a publishing company in her home city of New York. She describes herself as someone who likes editing and creating a pretty and polished final project, and “really enjoyed” combining those skills with her love of music.

Ultimately, whatever specific path she may take, Tobias feels certain that music “is going to be the main focus of my life somehow.”

Lydia Roe ’20

amy barston

College Ensembles Work With World-Renowned Cellist

Acclaimed cellist Amy Sue Barston will be coming to Swarthmore College to perform and to hold master classes for student instrumentalists. Barston is a renowned soloist and chamber musician, performing all around the world. Her past performances include concerts at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Ravinia, Bargemusic, Caramoor, Haan Hall (Jerusalem), The Banff Centre (Canada), The International Musicians’ Seminar (England), The Power House (Australia), and Chicago’s Symphony Center.

Barston was first contacted by Andrew Hauze ‘04, Lecturer and Director of the Swarthmore College Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. Barston came to Hauze’s mind as a candidate to invite to campus because of the professional relationship that they built over the past years.

“I first met Amy in 2013 through Astral Artists,” Hauze said. “We were scheduled to play some chamber music concerts together, and then I was delighted to discover that she lives right here in Swarthmore!”

“She is a brilliant musician and world-renowned teacher whose students come from far and wide to study with her, and I had always had it in mind that we should invite her to be more involved at the college,” Hauze continued.

This is not the first time Barston has worked with Swarthmore student instrumentalists.

“She worked with the orchestra string section a few years ago, and her teaching was wonderfully inspired and made an immediate difference in our sound,” Hauze said.

Barston’s visits to Swarthmore College provide an opportunity for students to learn from a musician who has cultivated her performance abilities based on her travels and exploration of different musical styles.

“In addition to her extraordinary musicality, Amy brings a knowledge of a wide range of musical cultures and styles and an enormous breadth of experience,” Hauze said.

During her time at Swarthmore College, Barston will hold two master classes with students: one on Friday, November 9th, and the other on Friday, April 5th, 2019. Both of these classes will be conducted in Lang Concert Hall.

“I know that students will be inspired by Amy’s energy and musical sensitivity: she really lives and breathes musical expression, and I can’t wait for the students to interact with her and find their own response to her musical ideas,” Hauze said.

Not only will students learn from Barston’s expertise, they will also have the chance to perform with Barston on stage.

“I am so happy that Amy will get to work closely with students in a variety of formats, and that she will be our soloist with the college orchestra in one of the greatest of all concertos, the Dvorak cello concerto,” Hauze said.

At the end of this semester, Barston will perform with the Swarthmore College Orchestra on Saturday, December 1st at 8:00 pm at Lang Concert Hall. In addition to the performance with the Swarthmore College Orchestra, Barston will also perform with Ieva Jokubaviciute, a pianist, on Friday, March 29th at 8:00 pm at Lang Concert Hall.

Several media outlets have described Barston’s playing style as eloquent, passionate, haunting, and skilled. Hauze is confident that Barston’s two stages at Swarthmore College will not fail to amaze audience members.

“Amy’s performances are always rich in musical depth and alive with communicative energy,” Hauze said. “She also has an extremely beautiful cello sound, and so attending any recital by Amy is a treat!”

David Chan ’19

variant 6

Vocal Group Variant 6 Showcases Student Compositions

Through the Swarthmore College Featured Artist program, Variant 6, a virtuosic vocal sextet, is working with Swarthmore students in recitals, workshops, and master classes throughout the 2018-19 season.

Variant 6 explores and advances the art of chamber music in the twenty-first century by radically reimagining concert experiences through performing rarely heard works, commissioning substantial new works, collaborating closely with other ensembles, and educating a new generation of singers.

Associate in Performance Joe Gregorio first proposed to invite Variant 6 to complete a residency with the Swarthmore Music & Dance Department.

“I had met one of Variant 6’s tenors, James Reese, about three years ago when the Chorus hired him to sing the tenor solos in our performance of Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore,” Gregorio said. “I had suggested to the Department of Music & Dance that we try to bring in Variant 6 for a residency, and was thrilled when our concert manager, Jenny Honig, told me we could.”

As part of their residency at Swarthmore College, Variant 6 will hold concerts, performing alone and with students. Moreover, Variant 6 have two planned composer workshops, one already completed on October 10th and the other scheduled for November 7th, to read original student compositions. Students of Swarthmore Music Professor Gerald Levinson participated in the October 10th workshop, where they sang through choral pieces in progress.

“In this workshop, the members of Variant 6 were able to offer invaluable advice to student composers about the construction of their works and about composing for voices in general,” Gregorio said.

Lili Tobias ‘19, a music major, participated in the October 10th workshop and will participate in the upcoming workshop. Tobias has considerable experience in composing vocal music.

“Many of my friends are singers, and I like writing pieces for us to play together, so voice is one of the instruments I gravitated to from the very beginning,” Tobias said. “I’ve written a bunch of art songs for solo voice and piano, and some choral (or small vocal ensemble) pieces.”

Having Variant 6 present on campus not only provides an opportunity for the group to share their work, but it also gives music students a chance to work in a professional setting and to get feedback from professional musicians.

“We’re very lucky that the Swarthmore Music [Program] is able to get such amazing artists-in-residence, like Variant 6,” Tobias said. “This gives the composition students the opportunity to write for professional-level musicians and get feedback on their music from the perspective of the performers.”

Furthermore, students are exposed to different vocal techniques, especially if they come from a different musical background than Variant 6.

“Variant 6 sings a lot of new music, so during the composition workshop this past Wednesday, they suggested many vocal techniques and subtle differences in voice quality that I was not necessarily familiar with, coming from a background of more traditional, classical music,” Tobias said.

By working with Variant 6, students have the opportunity to expand their voice capability and to enrich their musical education at Swarthmore.

“I think this helped all of us think outside the box regarding what the voice is capable of and the range of sounds it can make,” Tobias continues.

The final compositions generated in these workshops will be performed at the Lunch Hour Concert on November 12th at 12:30 pm in Parrish Parlors. Additionally, Variant 6 will perform a concert of their own programming on Friday, November 16th at 8:00 pm in Lang Concert Hall.

For the 2019 spring semester, Variant 6 will hold a master vocal class for Swarthmore vocalists on Wednesday, March 20th at 3:00 pm. Furthermore, Variant 6 will perform with Swarthmore College Chorus and Garnet Singers on Friday, May 3rd at 8:00 pm. Both of these events will take place at Lang Concert Hall.

“We’ve been lucky over the last few years to have several top-notch choral ensembles visit Swarthmore College: Roomful of Teeth, the Morehouse College Glee Club, and now Variant 6. I feel very fortunate that the campus community has been able to welcome these groups and that choral singers here have had the opportunity to see and hear such high-level choral singing,” Gregorio concluded.

David Chan ’19