Tag: Watson Fellowship

Murphy wins a Watson Fellowship, eyes violin-inspired exploration

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Meghan Murphy has an opportunity to take her violin on the road.

The Lawrence University senior from Wauwatosa was notified Friday that she is one of 41 national recipients of a Watson Fellowship for a year-long wanderjahr of independent travel and exploration. Like all applicants, she has a grace period to decide if she will accept it.

Head shot of Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy ’19

Based on her Watson application, she would head to India, Norway, Azerbaijan, Ireland and Mexico to explore musical traditions that incorporate violins and violin-like instruments.

“From the Azerbaijani kamancha to the Norwegian fiddle, similar physical tools express vastly contrasting styles of music,” Murphy said in her Watson statement. “Whether for dance or lullabies, these instruments allow people to create community and speak their souls. The violin is deeply ingrained in my own cultural and emotional experience.

“During my Watson, I will immerse myself in violin traditions, learning the nuances that allow this versatile instrument to slip between cultures.”

Murphy, who has been a recipient of the Kim Hiett Jordan Scholarship at Lawrence, is the 66th Lawrentian to win a Watson fellowship since 1969.

“I am extremely grateful to all the professors, staff, and students at Lawrence — particularly my advisors — who have invested their time and energy to help me see the best in myself,” Murphy said Friday after getting the news of her Watson selection. “I would not be in the position, and much less have the confidence, to apply for and receive the Watson without this incredible community.” 

Murphy is studying violin performance and religious studies at Lawrence.

She is part of the 51st class of Thomas J. Watson Fellows. The Watson provides funding for a year of purposeful international discovery for graduating college seniors in any discipline. This year’s class hails from six countries and 18 states, and fellows will travel to 76 countries exploring a wide range of topics.

Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, said Murphy’s curiosity of music and of the world around her would serve her well on a year-long Watson journey.

“Meghan has everything it takes to make the very most of her dream to study violin traditions from around the globe,” Pertl said. “She is a wonderful violinist who brings with her infinite curiosity, and a gift for picking up her violin and jumping into any music setting you can possibly imagine.”

For information on applying for a Watson Fellowship, click here

Murphy admits she had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the violin during childhood. But by the time she reached high school, she was fully hooked on what she calls the “emotional messiness of music.” And during a year of study in China between high school and enrolling at Lawrence, she had a moment that spoke to the power of the music she is so drawn to.

“I think about the time when I was homesick in southern China and began playing Bach’s Chaconne in my room,” Murphy wrote in her personal statement, part of the Watson application. “An old woman from a nearby village heard and came to listen. I did not understand her village’s language and she could not read or write, but she showed me pictures of the beautiful Batik art she creates and I played for her. It was an incredibly meaningful moment of shared humanity.

“We still sometimes send pictures or recordings to each other, even though we have no way to communicate through words.”

Murphy anticipates more emotional connections via music as she prepares for a year of study that would take her around the globe.

According to her project proposal, she plans to first head to Norway in September, where she would study the hardanger fiddle. She’d be there for about three months, and would be seeking opportunities to perform with local music groups.

“When I was young, I used to attend barn dances and was enchanted by the echoing sound of this fiddle,” she said.

She would then head to Pune, India, located on the western side of India, where she’d study the Hindustani violin.

Then it would be on to Mexico, where she’d study violin techniques with a professor of music at the Conservatorio de las Rosas in Morelia. The professor, Julian Vazquez, “collaborates with four different styles of traditional music ensembles from musically significant regions in Mexico,” Murphy said. “These include Son huasteco, Purepecha music and ensembles from Michoacan and Guerrero.”

Next would be a visit to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where she would study the kamancha, an instrument similar to the Chinese erhu.

Her last stop would be in Ireland, where, among other things, she would learn traditional Irish fiddling and to better connect her violin to dance.

“Learning new styles of music will expose me to the histories, languages, values, and cultures of many countries,” Murphy said. “As I continue my path in pursuit of failure and growth, I will also improve skills like improvising, learning by ear, and collaborative composing.

“Most importantly, however, I will continue the long process of learning how to make people dance or cry through the voice of the violin.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Bridging Cultural Gaps: Senior Sam Genualdi will travel the globe in search of musical collaborations as Watson Fellow

Music has always been a part of Sam Genualdi’s DNA.

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Sam Genualdi
Sam Genualdi ’17

He grew up as a serial instrumentalist, working his way through a litany of recommendations from his parents — violin, piano, percussion, double bass — but it wasn’t until he taught himself to play the guitar at the age of 15 that he found his sweet spot.

“When I picked up the guitar, it felt like something on my terms,” said Genualdi, a senior at Lawrence University from Evanston, Ill. “I felt like I was rebelling against my parents through the electric guitar.”

As his musical interests evolved, he discovered collaborating with other musicians was vital to his creative process. Later this year, Genualdi will embark on a year-long musical “binge” to feed his creative hunger that will take him around the world to engage in collaborations with musicians he’s never met.

Genualdi, a student-designed contemporary improvisation major at Lawrence, has been named one of 40 national recipients of a $30,000 Watson Fellowship for a wanderjahr of independent travel and exploration. Beginning in August, Genualdi will spend 12 months visiting Scotland, Peru, Indonesia, India and Japan.

“I plan to spend my Watson year in five countries steeped in unfamiliar musical traditions,” said Genualdi, Lawrence’s 72nd Watson Fellow since the program’s inception in 1969. “Music can be a powerful tool to bridge cultural gaps. I hope to co-create music that makes this evident. I want to engage in musical collaborations that push against the boundaries of existing genres.

“I have always thrived on collaboration,” added Genualdi, who has had plenty of opportunities as a member of numerous groups and ensembles at Lawrence, including the small jazz combos, the improvisation group IGLU, Gamelan Cahaya Asri and the Sambistas Brazilian drumming group, among others. “While I’ve done a fair amount of solitary work as a musician, the experiences that most excite me are those that involve interacting with other people.”

At each of his global destinations, Genualdi plans to meet musicians he hopes to work with by attending concerts and jam sessions. He will approach local musicians as a student to develop relationships and more effectively absorb the culture.

Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create
musical worlds yet unimagined.”

— Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music

“Taking lessons will give me the opportunity to interact with these musicians on a personal level, accumulate skills and expand my musical vocabulary,” said Genuldi. “I may learn a new instrument to gain perspective, but mainly I intend to communicate musically through my primary voice, the guitar.”

In Scotland, Genualdi will focus on the country’s rich history of stringed instruments, including guitar. In Peru, he will work with within Afro-Peruvian music traditions which combine African, European and native influences.

“Afro-Peruvian music along with the salsa and flamenco traditions prevalent in Lima involve unique forms of improvisation,” said Genualdi. “My background in jazz will help me find common repertoire to play with locals because of the relatively recent surge in the fusion of jazz and local traditions.”

January will find Genualdi in Bali where he looks to expand his experience with Indonesian music, which has been limited to his work with Gamelan Cahaya Asr. The following three months will take him to India, where traditions of improvisation in Hindustani music run deep. Much of his time there will focus on working with several highly regarded sitarists.

The final three months of his travels will be spent in Tokyo’s vibrant musical community with its improvised and experimental music scene. Genualdi calls the enthusiasm in Japan for fringe musical projects “inspiring.”

A photo of Lawrence University student Sam Genualdi playing his guitar.
When it comes to instruments, the guitar serves as Sam Genualdi’s “voice” of choice.

Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music and Lawrence’s campus liaison to the Watson Foundation, calls Genualdi “an explorer of sound.”

“Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create musical worlds yet unimagined,” said Pertl, himself a Watson Fellow in 1986 as a Lawrence senior. “He has been pushing the boundaries of improvisation during his time at Lawrence and now will have an opportunity to explore his passion across the globe. I can’t wait to see what new musical concoctions will emerge from his grand adventure.”

Genualdi says the Watson experience will deepen his relationship to music and profoundly affect every aspect of his life moving forward.

“The musical experiences I’ll have in each country is sure to be different, but each will help   bring into focus a larger picture of the human experience. Music is an important part of lives across the globe and I am intensely inspired by discovering these connections.”

Genualdi was selected for the Watson Fellowship from among 149 finalists nominated by 40 leading liberal arts colleges. This year’s 49th class of Watson Fellows hail from 21 states and six countries and will collectively visit 67 countries.

More than 2,700 students have been awarded Watson Fellowships, providing opportunities to test their aspirations, abilities and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur grant recipients, Pulitzer Prize winners, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and many renowned researchers and innovators.

The fellowship was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Senior Daniel Miller Awarded $25,000 Watson Fellowship for Exploration of Natural Soundscapes and High-tech Music

Daniel Miller forged a fascination with the connection between art and the natural world at a very young age.

Inspired by a recording of the children’s story “Mr. Bach Comes to Call,” which dramatized the famed composer’s life and described how the space probe Voyager 1 carried Bach’s music as well as sounds of planet Earth on its deep-space mission, a five-year-old Miller took take his first steps as a composer by imitating the shapes of music notation.

Daniel Miller ’13

“Even as a child, it was an exciting idea that these few pieces of music, along with sounds of the planet itself, were chosen to represent the best of humanity,” said Miller.

Eighteen years later, Miller is an accomplished composition and music theory major at Lawrence University, specializing in computer music and its potential to incorporate the power of natural soundscapes.

Beginning in August, he will spend a year traversing the globe as a 2013 Watson Fellow, seeking out communities of fellow computer-music composers who are working outside the traditional boundaries of classical art music.

A senior from Redmond, Wash., Miller was one of 40 undergraduates nationally awarded a $25,000 fellowship from the Rhode Island-based Thomas J. Watson Foundation for a wanderjahr of independent travel and exploration outside the United States on a topic of the student’s choosing.

His proposal —“Experiencing Nature Through Computer Music”— was selected from 148 finalists representing students from 40 of the nation’s premier private liberal arts colleges and universities. More than 700 students applied for this year’s Watson Fellowship.

“I want to experience some of the most moving natural settings in the world along with the communities and artists who work closely with the environment,” said Miller, who was home schooled by his parents.  “During my Watson year, I want to explore the unusual synthesis of the ancient and the high-tech, the natural and the synthesized in the form of modern computer music.”

First Stop — Japan

To that end, Miller will travel to Japan, Australia, Ecuador and Iceland, immersing himself in the local communities of composers and performers working with computer-assisted concert music to learn how nature and local ecological concerns have influenced them as artists.

“I also want to visit unique environments in each of those countries and explore how I, as a classically trained composer, can channel the experience of nature into my music,” said Miller, who has written about 30 pieces of music to date, including four chamber pieces that were performed by members of the Seattle Symphony and another that was accepted and performed at the 2012 national conference of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States.

In Japan (Aug.-Oct.), Miller would find himself in one of Asia’s oldest computer music communities.

“I’m eager to see how computer music developed in a place where art and technology frequently draw on ancient and traditional themes,” said Miller, a member of Lawrence musical improvisational group IGLU. “I’ll also hike into the Hida Mountains to reflect on the influence nature has had on Japanese music.”

Miller will spend November through January in Australia, meeting several noted composers and recording sounds of Tasmania’s endemic wildlife, including sub-sea fauna off Australia’s southern coast.

The next three months ending in April will take Miller to Quito, Ecuador. Having visited neighboring Colombia during his sophomore year, Miller is eager to return to the Andean region.

Daniel Miller is the 69th Lawrence senior to be awarded a Watson Fellowship in the program’s 44-year history.

“My project would not be complete without experiencing how computer music has developed in South America,” said Miller, who spent a transformative year studying abroad in 2010-11 at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

He closes his journey in Iceland, which, famous for artists such as Björk and the groups Sigur Rós and múm, is experiencing a musical and computer-music renaissance. He will time his visit to coincide with the Reykjavik Arts Festival as well as the breakup of ice in the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.

“I plan to hike out into Vatnajökull National Park and camp by the water and record the dramatic sounds of glacial calving.”

A Life-Changing Experience

Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music and Lawrence’s campus liaison to the Watson Foundation said Miller’s Watson year will “most definitely be a life-changing experience ” for him.

“Daniel has created a most unusual and exciting Watson proposal which explores how high-tech electronic music composers interact with, and are inspired, by their natural surroundings,” said Pertl, a 1986 Watson Fellowship winner himself. “This proposal perfectly combines Daniel’s own dual loves of nature and electronic composition. Let the adventure begin.”

As for Miller, he sees possibilities that go far beyond his first tentative forays in computer music.

“It’s not just about recreating a particular sound but creating an environment in the concert hall that gives the listener the experience they would feel in the natural landscape,” said Miller, recipient of Lawrence’s James Ming Scholarship in Composition in 2012. “By exploring how culture and environment shape the lives and music of composers around the world, I know I’ll learn more about how my own life experiences can contribute to who I become as a composer and as a person.”

Miller is the 69th Lawrence student awarded a Watson Fellowship since the program’s inception in 1969. It was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

Watson Fellows are selected on the basis of the nominee’s character, academic record, leadership potential, willingness to delve into another culture and the personal significance of the project proposal. Since its founding, nearly 2,700 fellowships have been awarded.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Passion for Canoes Earns Will Meadows $25,000 Watson Fellowship

Unabashed nature enthusiast Will Meadows speaks of canoes in near reverential tones.  In his mind, canoes are as centric to the ecosystem as a bird’s nest or a beaver dam.

“Canoes represent the coexistence of creativity and nature,” says the Lawrence University senior. “They lie at the intersection of human ingenuity and place, vessels for exploration, artistic expression and sustenance.”

Will Meadows '12

Beginning in August, Meadows will spend a year immersing himself in canoe-building communities across five distinct environmental regions of the world as a 2012 Watson Fellow.

Meadows, an environmental studies major from Cincinnati, Ohio, was one of 40 undergraduates nationally awarded a $25,000 fellowship from the Rhode Island-based Thomas J. Watson Foundation for a year of independent travel and exploration outside the United States on a topic of the student’s choosing.

His proposal —”Humanity’s Vessel: The Art and Ecology of Canoes” — was selected from among 147 finalists representing 40 of the nation’s premier private liberal arts colleges and universities. More than 700 students applied for this year’s Watson Fellowship.

For much of his still-young life, Meadows has used canoes and rivers for his method and means of exploring the world, whether it was the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, the Jong River in Sierra Leone, the Rogue River in Oregon or the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Canoe Area in northern Minnesota.

“I would often escape to the river after school, looking for my true education,” said Meadows, who is spending his spring break on a 100-mile canoe trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas. “In every way, rivers have been my teachers, my schools. Rivers define me. Moving steadily in a canoe is my natural experience.”

First Stop Lake Titicaca
Meadows will begin his “wanderjahr” at Lake Titicaca, on the border of Bolivia and Peru, working with the indigenous Uros peoples, who build reed canoes. There he also hopes to use his talents as a sculpture artist to create beautifully intricate reed dragon headed vessels with the Uros.

Next fall he will travel to the Solomon Islands, immersing himself in the ocean voyaging Polynesian canoe culture.

“I want to explore the art of the open-ocean canoe and the issues affecting the people of the sea as the struggle continues to preserve ancient voyaging knowledge and artisanship.”

On Tanzania’s ocean island of Zanzibar, Meadows will help construct outrigger dugout canoes and sail among Tanzania’s native fishing communities while studying the ecological issues affecting these peoples.

“My academic background in the environmental sciences as well as my professional experiences in sustainable agriculture, forestry, water and land management, will help me explore the conservation issues affecting the canoe-building natives,” said Meadows, who has been active in Lawrence’s on-campus sustainable garden and instrumental in the establishment of an on-campus orchard.

The diverse designs of North American native bark canoes will be Meadows’ focus for two months beginning in April 2013. Using Toronto as his base, Meadows will work with two world-renowned canoe builders, Rick Nash and Pinnock Smith of the Algonquin First Nation.

Meadows concludes his fellowship next summer in northern Norway with an apprenticeship in skin and canvas boat building with Anders Thygesen, founder of Kajakkspesialisten (the kayak specialist), a company renowned for its work in building traditional skin-on-frame sea kayaks and traditional paddles.

“As the final location in my journey,” said Meadows, “Kajakspecialisten will be a place to really consider what my role will be in this world after the Watson experience.”

An “ideal Watson Fellow”
Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music and Lawrence’s campus liaison to the Watson Foundation, described Meadows as “an ideal Watson Fellow.”

“Will’s proposed canoe-building odyssey perfectly channels his deepest passion into an immersive multi-cultural experience,” said Pertl. “His endless curiosity, love of life and affable nature will make him an ideal ambassador for this most prestigious of fellowships. I am so excited for his success and can’t wait to see how this year changes his life.”

Over the course of the past year and a half, Meadows and a four-person crew, with help from the father of Lawrence geologist Marcia Bjornerud, constructed a 16-foot pine and walnut strip canoe on campus — a project he described as “the most meaningful and enveloping of my life. When she finally rode the water for the first time, I remember lying on my back looking at the sky from her seatless belly, and the border between river, canoe and person faded with the setting sun.”

According to Meadows, his Watson proposal is in many ways a paradoxical project.

“A global comparison of handcrafted vessels hasn’t been thoroughly conducted, so in that way this is a new and cutting edge idea. But it’s also the desire to transfer knowledge of some of the oldest practices of humankind. I might be one of the only people with the chance to learn techniques in all these diverse world canoe styles. This is an opportunity to find new meaning at the crossroads of all my passions, including writing, ecology, art, people and exploration. I can’t wait to dive in and challenge myself to the absolutely fullest during my Watson year.

“I encourage everyone to ask themselves the question, ‘what is my ultimate passion?,'” Meadows added. “Putting this proposal together has helped me answer that question, but more importantly it showed me the beauty in other people’s passions. What’s your Watson?”

Meadows is the 68th Lawrence student awarded a Watson Fellowship since the program’s inception in 1969. It was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

Watson Fellows are selected on the basis of the nominee’s character, academic record, leadership potential, willingness to delve into another culture and the personal significance of the project proposal. Since its founding, nearly 2,600 fellowships have been awarded.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges by Forbes, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.  Follow us on Facebook.

$25,000 Watson Fellowship Sending Alex Winter to Asia for Video Game Culture Study

Alex-Winter_web_II
Alex Winter

Alex Winter got his first taste of video gaming as a five-year old, playing “Sim City” at home in his father’s attic office with his dad. He’s been hooked ever since.

“Video games have been a part of my life my entire life,” said the Lawrence University senior, who soon will turn his life-long affection for gaming into a year-long study of the social phenomenon of the video game culture in East Asia.

Winter was one of 40 undergraduates nationally awarded a $25,000 fellowship from the Rhode Island-based Thomas J. Watson Foundation for a year of independent travel and exploration outside the United States on a topic of the student’s choosing. Winter, whose proposal —“Video Game Culture Studies in East Asia, Korea, China, Japan” — was selected from among 150 finalists representing 40 of the nation’s premier private liberal arts colleges and universities. More than 820 students applied for this year’s Watson Fellowship.

Interactive entertainment — gaming — has grown exponentially since the primitive days of “Pong.” According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, interactive entertainment earned $41.9 billion in 2007 and is anticipated to surpass music revenue by 2011.

As it has evolved, interactive entertainment has moved away from the one game/one player model toward entire communities of players who are brought together through the game itself, creating an international digital community with a unique subculture.

“Video gaming is creating its own, unique traditions every day,” said Winter, a biology major from Seattle, Wash. “Chief among them is a social, cultural network that circles the globe without regard for national boundaries or languages. The interactive entertainment industry is poised to change the world as profoundly as the Internet. We’re standing on the brink of a cultural revolution and now is the perfect time to study this infant culture.”

Winter will use his fellowship to visit China, Japan and South Korea, where the video game community holds mainstream positions much the same way Americans treat sports.

“I intend to spend time studying cyber athleticism, performance, economics and addiction in places where they are exceptionally visible, such as Internet cafes, gaming centers, arenas and conventions,” said Winter. “I want to immerse myself in the culture, performing observational studies and interviews whenever possible.”

Starting in mid-July, Winter will travel first to Hong Kong, the center of a unique economy in which real money is exchanged for goods that exist only inside the video game world. The next five months will be spent in Japan, home to three of the largest interactive entertainment publishers: Nintendo, Sony and Sega.

“The most accomplished players in Japan draw crowds of admirers, which is a fundamentally different style of video gaming than what is practiced here in the states,” said Winter. “Players compete against both the computer and the previous player in what might be called ‘video game performance art.’ I want to explore the motivations of those who perform and those who come to watch this unique style of entertainment.”

In January, Winter will travel to Beijing, home to the only state-sponsored video game addiction recovery center in the world. He plans to meet the doctors who treat the patients whose attachment to video games is near dependence levels and the video gamers themselves to explore how their addiction grew, how it affected their life and what led them to counseling.

During an ensuing five-month stay in South Korea, where competitions with prizes as high as $500,000 are nationally televised events, Winter will explore the country’s specialized Internet cafes and the phenomenon of cyber athletes.

“The possibilities for learning about and embracing my gamer self in a country that lauds its players are exciting and endless,” said Winter.

He will return to China in July 2011 to close his study in Shanghai, which boasts an exceptionally high number of gamers.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the interplay of traditional Chinese culture and interactive gaming in Shanghai,” said Winter.” “Of the three Chinese cities on my itinerary, Shanghai is the most traditional. Its collision and merger with state-of-the-art interactive entertainment will be a telling testament to the phenomenon of merging cultures.”

Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music, served as Lawrence’s campus liaison to the Watson program this year. He said Winter will break “new ground” with his fellowship.

“His project is different. It’s exploring areas that haven’t been tackled by any previous Watson fellows,” said Pertl, a 1986 Watson Fellowship recipient himself as a student at Lawrence. “Alex’s passion for this topic as a scholar and as a participant in social gaming gives him the perfect background for this award. I’m confident he’ll come back with some deep insights and fantastic experiences.”

Winter sees his project not as a departure from his study of biology, but rather an extension of it.

“A background in biological science is fundamentally an education in methodical parsing of cause and effect,” said Winter. “Human culture can be examined as a complex system with confounding factors. My background in science gives me a scaffold on which to build this study and dig into the new sociological frontier presented by East Asian gaming.”

Winter is the 67th Lawrence student awarded a Watson Fellowship since the program’s inception in 1969. It was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

Watson Fellows are selected on the basis of the nominee’s character, academic record, leadership potential, willingness to delve into another culture and the personal significance of the project proposal. Since its founding, nearly 2,600 fellowships have been awarded.

Appleton’s Wallenfang Awarded $22,000 Fellowship for “Wanderjahr” to China, India

Formal piano studies at the age of seven and martial arts training in Tae Kwon Do and Kapkido as a 10-year old sparked a fascination both in music and in other cultures, particularly those of Asia, in Ansel Wallenfang that has since grown into a life-long passion.

Beginning this August, Wallenfang will have an entire year to pursue those passions up close and personal thanks to a $22,000 fellowship from the Providence, R.I. based Thomas J. Watson Foundation.

A senior piano performance major at Lawrence University, Wallenfang Monday (3/17) was named one of 48 national recipients of a 2003-04 Watson Fellowship, a grant that supports a “wanderjahr” — a year of independent travel and exploration outside the United States — on a topic of the student’s choosing.

Wallenfang, 22, was selected for the fellowship from nearly 200 nominees representing 50 of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges and universities. He is the 59th Lawrence student awarded a Watson Fellowship since the program’s inception in 1969.

Wallenfang will embark on a 12-month study of music and Asian cultures in mid-August, spending six months each in China and India, beginning in Xi’an, China with extended stops along the way in Guagnzhou, Ji’nan, Beijing, Calcutta and eventually Pune, India. His project will center on two instruments that are indigenous and unique to each country’s musical identity: the erhu, China’s two-stringed violin, and the tabla, India’s famed classical drums.

“My fascination with Asian music and my desire to learn the instruments and traditions surrounding them run very deep,” said Wallenfang. “I vividly remember the first I heard the tabla, in accompaniment to Ravi Shankar’s sitar. Everything seemed to stop. I discovered a new and ethereal sound that still speaks to me in a way clearer than anything I have ever known.

“The same is true for the Chinese erhu,” he added. “Its pleasing, unique tone conjures a flood of notions and images in my mind of what it is like to live in China.”

In addition to learning to play the two instruments, Wallenfang intends to study the historical, cultural and spiritual roles of the intruments, examining such basic questions as how they are used today, their role in ceremony, meditation and professional concert, the traditions surrounding them and the regional variations of technique and style in both instruments.

His study will include intense practice time with both instruments, associations with musicians and performers at concerts and recitals as well as visits to temples and other sacred sites to evaluate the role of music in ceremony and spiritual life through direct observation and participation.

“I hope not only to answer these questions, but also carry the essense of these musical traditions and make them a permanent part of my life,” said Wallenfang, who has visited China twice in the past year as part of two separate Lawrence study tours supported by the Freeman Foundation grant. “The meaningful relationships I hope to build through music will help transform my comprehension of the East-West dichotomy as I work toward a new and insightful understanding of music, other peoples and myself.

“I realize this won’t be easy, but I’m ready for, and need the shock of, throwing myself into cultures that are wholly unlike my own for the sake of my evolution as a person and as a musician.”

The Watson Fellowship Program was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of IBM Corporation, and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs. Watson Fellows are selected on the basis of the nominee’s character, academic record, leadership potential, willingness to delve into another culture and the personal significance of the project proposal.