Year: 2008

Lawrence University’s Neustadter “Scores” Score For TCM Silent Movie Restoration

APPLETON, WIS — Thanks to Garth Neustadter’s musical talents, the classic silent film “The White Sister” will be silent no more.

For the second time in a year, the Lawrence University senior has put his composer’s pen to work on behalf of Turner Classic Movies, writing a 134-minute musical score for the 1923 movie starring silent screen legend Lillian Gish.

As part of an ongoing restoration of silent films, Warner Brothers has been converting the original “The White Sister” into digital format. When the studio went looking for someone to write a musical score for it — most silent films were originally shown with live music performed in the theatre — it turned to newcomer Neustadter rather than the usual carde of composers in Hollywood, where union regulations have made it increasingly expensive to produce film scores.

Neustandter was on TCM’s radar screen after earning first-prize honors (second place behind the grand prize winner) in the 2007 Young Film Composers Competition. Sponsored by the cable television network, the 8th annual international competition drew more than 800 participants, each of whom had to score a 90-second clip from the 1924 silent movie “Beau Brummel.”

“This is the first score Turner Classic Movies has recorded outside of Hollywood,” said Neustadter. “I’m trying to match the quality of sound they’re used to getting for these projects.”

“The White Sister,” the first American movie to be filmed overseas (Italy), was originally scheduled to be the film project for the 2008 TCM composer’s competition, but the writer’s strike earlier this year put the annual event on hold. Some gentle lobbying by Neustadter with contacts he had made the previous year resulted in an August request asking if he would like to tackle the entire film, not just a short clip.

“I was totally surprised,” said Neustadter, who is pursuing a double major in violin and voice performance, not composition. “I never anticipated it would work out the way it did. It turned into a great opportunity.”

And a time-consuming one, too. Since early September when he received a copy of the film, Neustadter has been devoting 10 hours a day to the score to meet his end-of-December deadline. He took a reduced class load this fall.

“I knew I would need all the time available to finish this,” said Neustadter, 22, of Manitowoc, who conservatively estimates he has logged 1,000 hours on the project.

Before writing a single note, he prepared for the project by reading the book on which the film is based, researched the history of the film’s settings and time period, read several books on film scoring, architecture and composition and studied numerous professional orchestral scores.

Neustadter’s previous composition experience involved writing 1-2 minutes of music a week. For this project, he was forced to compose 2-3 minutes a day.

“To write more than two hours of music is a daunting task. I couldn’t afford to have any bouts of writer’s block,” said Neustadter, who won two Down Beat magazine awards for composition while in high school. “The difficult part of writing for film is that all the music has to synch with the exact part of the film so that it clicks with every nuance. When you watch these silent films, it’s amazing just how silent they really are. You really need the right music to tell the story and pull the film along.”

Adding to the overall challenge of the project were several scenes in the film involving musicians. Neustadter had to write what he felt they were playing, including composing an up-tempo waltz in a gypsy style.

“I had to convince the audience that the music they heard is what the musicians on the screen were actually playing,” he explained.

“The size and scope of this project would challenge any professional film composer, let alone a heavily engaged college student like Garth,” said Fred Sturm, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and an award-winning composer himself, who has served as a mentor to Neustader on the project. “Professionals strive to compose about two minutes of film music per day, and most contemporary feature films typically use about 45 minutes of music. Garth has written almost three times that amount.

Sturm, who taught film scoring for 10 years while at the Eastman School of Music, says Neustadter “is right there with the best young writers I’ve taught. He’s got the talent and discipline to be a superb film composer. Folks are going to be amazed by the beauty and quality of his work.”

The restoration team originally wanted only a piano score for the “The White Sister,” which, at two hours and 14 minutes, is nearly twice the length of most silent movies, but told Neustadter he could add additional instrumentation if he wanted to. He quickly took them up on their offer, soliciting the musical talents of nearly 20 Lawrence conservatory faculty and students to perform.

“I wanted to do as much with it as I could,” said Neustadter. “I felt the film really needed a full orchestral score.”

With his deadline fast approaching, Neustadter has been laying down his own violin tracks in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel the past several weeks, sometimes from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. to accommodate the building’s heavy use. He’s also been scrambling to schedule more sane-time recording sessions with his collaborating musicians.

He plans to ship off his finished soundtrack by the end of the year and with TCM’s blessing, is hoping to present the score on campus in a recital format as a “night at the movies” early next year. The film is tentatively scheduled to air on TCM sometime in February.

“It’s been an enormous challenge to tackle this project from start to finish in the time frame I had,” said Neustadter. “Along the way, I’ve learned it’s good not to encounter writer’s block, that I truly enjoy film score writing, that professional writers employ assistants for good reason and that there are never enough hours in the day.”

“I was very fortunate to get to do something on this scale,” he added. “As a young composer, it’s so tough to find these kinds of opportunities. It’s a great start for me.”

Lawrence University Giving Fair Offers Gifts of Hope, Empowerment

APPLETON, WIS. — The refrain “tis better to give than receive” will never ring more true than this weekend when holiday shoppers will be able to purchase life-changing gifts on the Lawrence University campus.

The second annual Alternative Giving Fair will be held Saturday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. in Riverview Lounge of the Lawrence Memorial Union. The fair is sponsored by the campus organization Students’ War Against Hunger and Poverty (SWAHP).

The fair will feature a wide variety of tangible items such as embroidered pillows and baskets, jewelry, ornaments, scarves and other items, all hand-crafted by people in developing countries of the world. Ninety percent of the proceeds from the sale of gifts will be returned directly to the artisan responsible for creating it.

“Alternative” gifts focused on local, national and international humanitarian projects also will be available for purchase. These gifts, ranging from tree seedlings for Haiti to dental care for African refugees, support social, economic and environmental progress in developing regions of the world.

Shoppers will have opportunities to honor family and friends by purchasing alternative gifts for a variety of worldwide programs that are supporting causes for children, improved health, literacy, education, and the environment, among others. People buying alternative gifts will be given cards they can send to the person whom they are recognizing, informing them an alternative present was purchased in their honor.

“The Alternative Giving Fair is an opportunity for people to do their holiday shopping while giving to those in need around the world,” said Casey Sautter ’09, co-president of SWAHP. “By purchasing alternative gifts, people are are not only providing funding for much needed causes, but they are giving someone the gift of hope.”

The fair also will feature live music performed throughout the day by Lawrence students and refreshments will be available. Last year’s first alternative giving fair raised more than $10,600 for more than 40 causes and organizations around the world.

Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, Choirs Present Handel’s Holiday Classic “Messiah”

APPLETON, WIS. — George Frideric Handel’s popular holiday classic “Messiah” returns to the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel stage Friday Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in a performance by the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra and all three Lawrence choirs. Tickets are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

A live webcast of “Messiah” also will be available on WLFM, Lawrence’s student-operated radio station at

Considered by many music experts to be the most famous oratorio ever written, Handel composed “Messiah” in just 24 days in 1741. The libretto, based on the King James Bible, chronicles the life of Christ through the prophecies of Old Testament texts.

“‘Messiah’ is a work that is amazingly balanced between the chorus and soloists,” said Professor of Music Richard Bjella, who will conduct the performance. “Many of Handel’s oratorios have some great choruses or arias, but none has the extraordinary balance that is present in ‘Messiah.’ The range of emotional impact is truly overwhelming.”

Because of its length, “Messiah” is rarely performed in its entirety. Lawrence’s performance will capture the work’s emotion with a range of selections, including “Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted,” “And He Shall Purify,” “The Trumpets Shall Sound” and the famous “Hallelujah Chorus.” The orchestration will feature revisions written by Mozart. Fifteen student soloists will perform the oratorio with the orchestra and the Lawrence Concert Choir, Cantala (women’s choir) and Viking Chorale.

“The drama is complete from the joy of Christmas to the pain of the Lenten season and celebration of Easter as well,” said Bjella. “Handel was extraordinary in his ability to speak in every setting to all people directly. His talent for storytelling brings a theatricality and grandeur to his oratorios that are comparable to opera.”

New York Times Columnist Offers Post-Election View in Lawrence University Convocation

APPLETON, WIS. — New York Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich shares his view of the nation’s political and cultural landscape in the wake of the recent historic presidential election Tuesday, Dec. 2 in a Lawrence University convocation.

Rich presents “The Post-Bush Era Begins” at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 510 E. College Ave., Appleton. The address is free and open to the public.

Since 2005, Rich has penned essays for the New York Times‘ Sunday Week in Review section, drawing upon his 13 years as the paper’s former drama critic to provide a culturally-tinged view of politics.

Following Barack Obama’s barrier-breaking election as the United States’ first African-American president, Rich noted that the country had clearly turned a page.

“If there were any doubts the 1960s are over, they were put to rest when our new first family won the hearts of the world as it emerged to join the celebration in Chicago’s Grant Park,” Rich wrote in his Nov. 9 column. “The bloody skirmishes that took place on that same spot during the Democratic convention 40 years ago seemed as remote as the moon. This is another America, hardly a perfect or prejudice-free America, but a union that can change and does, aspiring to perfection even if it can never achieve it.”

A native of Washington, D.C. and a 1971 graduate of Harvard University, Rich spent time writing for the New York Post and Time magazine before joining the New York Times in 1980 as the paper’s theatre critic. He earned the nickname “The Butcher of Broadway” from those who didn’t incur favor in his influential production reviews.

He moved to the Op-Ed page in 1994 and later spent four years also writing for The New York Times Magazine, becoming the first person to handle both roles. In 2005, he was recognized with Long Island University’s George Polk Awards in Journalism for commentary.

Rich is the author of four books, including the 2006 bestseller “The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina,” which took a critical view of the Bush administration and the methods it used to pursue the president’s agenda. In his autobiographical “Ghost Light: A Memoir,” published in 2000, he discusses his fascination with the theatre growing up as child in the nation’s capital.

Earlier this year, Rich joined HBO as a creative consultant to help develop new programming for the pay-TV network.

Lawrence University Presents Benefit Concert for Haitian Hurricane Relief, Education Programs

APPLETON, WIS. — A benefit concert supporting hurricane relief as well as music and education programs in Haiti will be presented by Lawrence University students and community musicians Saturday, Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in Harper Hall of the Music-Drama Center.

Featuring all Haitian music, the program will include folk tunes performed by students of the Lawrence Academy String Project, choral rounds performed by the Son Shine Children’s Choir of Appleton’s First United Methodist Church, folkloric dances performed by Fox Valley Technical College CASS (Cooperative Association of States for Scholarship) students from Haiti, orchestral works performed by the “Friends of Haiti Chamber Orchestra” and a performance of “Plainte Nocturne” by the Kaukauna High School Orchestra.

The concert also will include one of the first U.S. performances of “Premiere Suite de Menuets En Symfonies” for two flutes, bassoon and strings by the 18th-century Haitian born composer Atys.

Jean R. Perrault, director of orchestras and professor of violin at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, will serve as the concert’s guest conductor.

Lawrence students who have participated in volunteer activities as educators at Haitian music camps also will make a presentation on their outreach activities there.

Suggested donations are $5 for students, $10 for adults and $25 for families. Checks can be made payable to Lawrence University, with “Haiti Benefit Concert” on the memo line. The concert is open to the public whether a financial contribution is made or not.

Lawrence University Presents Richard Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”

APPLETON, WIS. – The Lawrence University theatre arts department stages four performances of the rags-to-riches fairy tale “Cinderella.” Based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein television classic, the musical will be performed in Stansbury Theatre at 8 p.m. Nov. 20, 21 and 23, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Nov. 22.

Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and students, are available at the Lawrence University Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 920-832-6749.

The story follows poor Cinderella, who works as a servant for her evil stepsisters and stepmother. With the help of her magical fairy godmother, she meets Prince Charming and overcomes great obstacles to eventually find true love.

“Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella’ is such a delightful musical, filled with melody and lyrics familiar to us all,” said Timothy X. Troy, associate professor of theatre and drama who will direct the production. “While the story is uncomplicated, Cinderella’s willingness to believe in a better future can inspire young and old alike to imagine that our dearest dreams are possible.”

The production features the full orchestration from the original musical version, which was broadcast live to 107 million television viewers in 1957. It includes such memorable songs such as “Ten Minutes Ago,” “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” and “In My Own Little Corner.” Assistant Professor of Music Phillip Swan is the show’s music director.

Double-cast, the production features junior Amanda Ketchpaw and senior Michael Axtell appearing as Cinderella and the Prince Thursday and Saturday, while juniors Maura Cook and Evan Bravos sing the respective roles Friday and Sunday. Senior Emily Shankman plays the fairy godmother Thursday and Saturday and junior Lara Wasserman takes the role Friday and Sunday.

Set design by Professor of Theatre and Drama Rich Frielund and costume design by 2001 Lawrence graduate Emily Rohm-Gilmore, is inspired by the Victorian Pre-Raphaelite tradition of bright colors, lavish fabrics, and playful staging.

Five Lawrence University Students Capture Top Honors at State Singing Competition

APPLETON, WIS. — Highlighted by Lacey Benter’s fourth consecutive state title, five Lawrence University students earned first-place honors at the 2008 Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition held Nov. 7-8 at UW-Whitewater.

Benter, Southport, Fla., earned top honors in the senior women’s division after having won the lower college women’s musical theatre division, the freshman and junior women division in previous NATS competitions. She is student of Associate Professor Karen Leigh Post.

Four other Lawrence students and a Lawrence graduate also won their respective divisions. A total of 53 Lawrence students participated, with 13 advancing to the finals.

Other Lawrence first-place finishers included Alex Johnson, Shelburne, Vt., in the freshman men’s division; Cassie Glaeser, Manitowoc, in the sophomore women’s division; Derrell Acon, St. Louis, Mo., in the junior men’s division; and Christopher Besch, Woodbury, Minn., in the senior men’s division.

Andrew Lovato, a 2008 Lawrence graduate, won the continuing senior men’s division, while Ariana Douglas, a senior at Appleton North High School, earned first-place honors in the high school women’s division.

Johnson and Glaeser are both students of Leigh-Post. Acon studies with Professor Patrice Michaels. Besch studies with Assistant Professor Steven Spears and Lovato is a student of Professor Ken Bozeman. Douglas studies with Bryan Post, a private voice coach who also teaches at the Lawrence Academy of Music.

All first-place finishers were awarded $150 for their winning efforts, while second- and third-place finishers received $125 and $100, respectively.

A total of 395 singers from around the state competed in 20 separate divisions by gender and level in this year’s auditions. Depending upon the category, NATS competitors are required to sing two, three or four classical pieces from different time periods with at least one selection sung in a foreign language.

2008 NATS Auditions/Lawrence Results

November 7-8 — UW-Whitewater

High School Women
Ariana Douglas First place Bryan Post
Freshman Men
Alex Johnson First place Karen Leigh-Post
Sophomore Women
Cassie Glaeser First place Karen Leigh-Post
Katy Harth Third place Joanne Bozeman
Junior Men
Derrell Acon First place Patrice Michaels
Evan Bravos Third place Ken Bozeman
Junior Women
Maura Cook Second place Joanne Bozeman
Senior Men
Christopher Besch First place Steven Spears
Andrew Penning Second place Karen Leigh-Post
Senior Women
Lacey Benter First place Karen Leigh-Post
Continuing Senior Men
Andrew Lovato First place Ken Bozeman
Continuing Senior Women
Keely Borland Second place Patrice Michaels
Adult Professional
Cameron Bowers ’06 Second Place Joanne Bozeman

Lawrence University Concert Celebrates Gift of Commissioned Instruments

APPLETON, WIS. — The holidays are still several weeks away, but eight Lawrence University students will get a head start on them by unwrapping a unique and important gift.

Four student soloists and members of the Viridian String Quartet will debut four new instruments commissioned for the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in a celebratory concert Friday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in Lawrence’s Harper Hall.

Built by master luthier Douglas Cox of West Brattleboro, Vt., the four instruments — two violins, a viola and a cello — were generously commissioned by Allen Greenberg, a music lover from Chevy Chase, Md. Greenberg visited Lawrence in 2006 with his son, a prospective student and string musician. While his son wound up attending another college, Greenberg was so impressed with Lawrence, he decided to fund the instruments construction and donate them to the college.

“These instruments are a fantastic gift and will become a valuable resource for the conservatory,” said Matthew Michelic, associate professor of music who teaches viola at Lawrence. “Douglas Cox is a very well known and accomplished violin maker, and there are prominent musicians endorsing and performing on his instruments. The instruments he made for Lawrence will be well used and well loved for generations to come.”

The Cox instruments join a small collection of other outstanding string instruments owned by the college, including a 1686 Guarnerius violin, which are used by faculty and students on special occasions.

Friday’s concert will feature the instruments individually and as a quartet. Willie McClellan and David Rubin will open the concert with violin pieces by Bach and Bloch, respectively. Violist Sarah Vosper will perform Alexander Glazunov’s “Elegy, Opus 44” and Lindsey Crabb will play a Brahms’ cello sonata.

The Viridian String Quartet — Danielle Simandl, violin, Katie Ekberg, violin, Sarah Bellmore, viola and Max Hero, cello — winners of last March’s WPR-sponsored Neale-Silva Young Artists competition in Madison, close the concert with movements of masterworks for quartet by Haydn and Beethoven.

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, Cox will conduct a string instrument making presentation at 6 p.m. in Harper Hall, discussing the techniques and materials he uses in building violins, violas and cellos to best suit the unique requirements of each musician. Both the presentation and concert are free and open to the public.

Documentary Film “Apparition of the Eternal Church” Comes to Lawrence University

APPLETON, WIS. — In honor of the centennial of the birth of French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen, Lawrence University will host a screening of the award-winning film “Apparition of the Eternal Church” Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

The film’s director, Paul Festa, will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions afterward. The event is free and open to the public.

Hailed by The New Yorker as “mesmerizing…remarkable…intensely personal,” the hour-long “Apparition of the Eternal Church” examines the contradictory reactions of 31 mostly nonreligious artists who listen through headphones to a 10-minute piece of Messiaen’s monumental organ work of the same name, which he wrote in 1931 at the age of 24.

In interviews with the director, the listeners describe what they’ve heard, putting the violent contradictions of Messiaen’s music into words. For some, the music produces spiritual and erotic ecstasy, for others a trip through Dante’s inferno. The music and its interpreters produce something akin to what William Blake once called “the marriage of heaven and hell.”

The screening, which is co-sponsored by the American Guild of Organists, will feature live organ performances by Dan O’Connor and Susanna Valleau playing Lawrence’s Brombaugh organ.

The film, which had its premiere showing at the Library of Congress this past Halloween and will make its debut in the United Kingdom at the Barbican Centre in London on Dec. 8, was named the Best North American Independent Feature Film at the 2006 Indianapolis International Film Festival and earned the Special Director’s Award at the Santa Cruz Film Festival that same year.

Lawrence has been celebrating the centennial of Messiaen’s birth with a variety of events this fall. The composer’s “Quartet for the End of Time” is one of the works on this year’s Freshman Studies list.

California, Milwaukee Artists Join “CUTE!” in New Lawrence University Exhibition

APPLETON, WIS. – Mixed-media artist Gretchen Beck, professor of art at Concordia University in California, delivers the opening lecture Friday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. for the newest exhibition at Lawrence University’s Wriston Art Center galleries. A reception with the artist follows the address. The exhibition runs Nov. 14 – Dec. 21.

Beck’s work deals with the Djarma and Fulani cultures of Niger, West Africa, where she lived for three years. Her abstract imagery portrays concepts of ritual and tradition within the social structure of Nigerien culture. Beck’s drawings and paintings will be shown in the Kohler gallery.

Milwaukee-based artist Lynn Tomaszewski, a faculty member at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, will have prints, paintings and video exhibited in the Hoffmaster gallery. Often working with large quantities of information or objects, Tomaszewski mixes media and converges art and science with the concept of nature. Her most recent work combines patterns of information — DNA sequence data, maps of the universe — with video captures of everyday events.

The Leech gallery will feature the show “CUTE!,” a selection of small, charming images from Lawrence’s own permanent collection. The works were chosen specifically for their potential to elicit an “aaw, isn’t that cute” viewer response.

Wriston Art Center hours are Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday from noon – 4 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 920-832-6621 or visit