Author: Rick Peterson

Lawrence theatre arts dept. presents “Love and Information”

The myriad of ways people long for, share and interpret today’s constant bombardment of data and information gets a rapid-fire treatment in Lawrence University’s production of award-winning British playwright Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information.”

A scene from the play "Love and Information"
Hotel housekeeper Erin McCammond-Watts (left) convinces fellow housekeeper Caro Granner to share a secret about something she did in that room. Photo by Billy Liu.

Four performances will be staged in Stansbury Theater May 10-12 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 3. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Written in 2012, the “play” is actually a series of more than 60 thought-provoking scenes and vignettes, some of which are less than a minute long, featuring 17 actors portraying a dizzying array of questioning, frustrated characters. Each explores how we communicate with the people we love, covering the spectrum of human emotions, from comic to tragic.

Known for her minimalist style, Churchill provides dialogue, divided into small, titled scenes that are further grouped into sections, but without location, character names or character relationships. Churchill puts the onus of the details on the production team.

“I told the cast Caryl Churchill looked at life and distilled it down to the equivalent of a stick figure drawing,’” said Kathy Privatt, James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theatre arts, who is directing the production. “Our job as a production team is to create fully-fleshed people in situations, all the while knowing that as specific as we are, each audience member may see or hear something different because ‘information’ just isn’t that concrete.

A scene from the play "Love and Information"
After learning back-yard gardener Xi (Zoey) Lin (left) had phoned in an anonymous tip to the police, family member Dana Cordry is convinced they’ll have to move or hide.

According to Privatt, the play invites the audience to be part of the production by bringing themselves, their experiences and their perceptions to see what they see.

“We’re actively making meaning and asking the audience to do the same – just like we do every day in our lives,” said Privatt. “And just maybe, we’ll recognize ourselves, or remember a time, or understand an encounter a little differently after we share this time in the theatre together.”

Privatt noted that since the play was selected for performance last spring, world events have refocused our national attention on information.

“I assume our audiences may bring some of those perspectives to the performance,” said Privatt.

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.

 

Award-winning pianist/composer Vijay Iyer closes 2017-18 Jazz Series

Grammy Award-nominated pianist/composer/bandleader/electronic musician and writer Vijay Iyer and his five-person band closes Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Friday, May 11 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets for the performance, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

A New York native — born in Albany, raised in Fairport — the multi-talented Iyer began playing the piano by ear as a child and mostly self-taught on the instrument.

That hasn’t prevented him from earning Downbeat magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year honors in 2012, 2015 and 2016. He was named  Artist of the Year in Jazz Times’ Critics’ Poll and Readers’ Poll for 2017.

His numerous accolades also include Musician of the Year honors from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2010 and being named one of the 50 Most Influential Global Indians by GQ India in 2011.

“It is a great honor to have Vijar Iyer close our Jazz Series,” said José Encarnación, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies at Lawrence. “As a pianist and composer Mr. Iyer will bring his own unique style, a style that pushes the edges of modern jazz’s contours with a lyrical and elegant approach to improvisation. This will be a concert full of ingenuity, grace and distinction.”

In addition to his current sextet — horn player Graham Haynes, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore — Iyer has led several distinct combos, including Spirit Complex, The Poisonous Prophets and the Vijar Iyer Trio. He has collaborated with some of the most important contemporary jazz pioneers, including Steve Coleman, Rudresh Mahanthappa and the “king of the hip-hop concept” Mike Ladd, among others.

Iyer’s discography spans 21 albums, including 2017’s “Far From Over” with the Vijay Iyer Sextet. The album was atop numerous year-end critics polls, while Rolling Stone magazine hailed it as “2017’s jazz album to beat.” His 2013 album, “Holding it Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project,” a politically searing collaboration with poet-performer Mike Ladd, was named Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.

Vijay Iyer Sextet
The Vijay Iyer Sextet includes drummer Marcus Gilmore, Iyer, horn player Graham Haynes, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman and bassist Stephan Crump. Photo by Lynne Harty.

Iyer, who earned a Ph.D. in    an interdisciplinary study of the cognitive science of music from the University of California, earned one of the country’s most coveted awards in 2013, a $500,000 “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

As a composer, he his commissions have earned world premieres performed by such notable artists as Imani Winds, The Silk Road Ensemble, Brentano Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, among others.

Iyer serves as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University as well as the director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.

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.

Lawrence honoring two state teachers as “outstanding educators”

A pair of state high school teachers will be honored Sunday, May 6 as recipients of Lawrence University’s 2018 Outstanding Teaching in Wisconsin Award.

Shannon Glenn, a 1994 Lawrence graduate who teaches science at Kimberly High School, and Dana Kopatich, a biology teacher at Menomonee Falls High School, will be recognized by President Mark Burstein in ceremonies at the president’s home. Glenn and Kopatich will receive a certificate, a citation and a monetary award while their respective schools will receive $250 for library acquisitions.

Recipients are nominated by Lawrence seniors and selected on their abilities to communicate effectively, create a sense of excitement in the classroom, motivate their students to pursue academic excellence while showing a genuine concern for them in and outside the classroom. Since launching the award program in 1985, Lawrence has recognized 68 state teachers.

Shannon Glenn
Shannon Glenn ’94

Originally from Miami, Fla., Glenn joined the faculty at Kimberly High School in 2005. He teaches AP chemistry, chemistry and life science and serves as the staff advisor to the KHS Alliance, the school’s diversity and inclusion organization. He began his teaching career in 1999 at Hortonville High School then spent three years abroad teaching at the Saudi Arabian International School in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and at the Koahsiung American School in Taiwan.

Lawrence senior biochemistry majorKen Grode of Kaukauna, who nominated Glenn for the award, said he is “often the first teacher to arrive, usually on his bike as long as the sidewalks were clear of snow, and would stay as late as his students needed.

“He is the reason I have an interest in chemistry,” Grode wrote in his nomination. “His encouragement to truly understand the chemistry he taught gave me confidence at Lawrence. I was reminded that if I could pass his class, I could pass any class at Lawrence. Thanks to the seeds he helped to plant, I will be graduating in three years with a degree in biochemistry, having completed all of the pre-medical requirements.”

A member of the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers, Glenn earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Lawrence, where he also earned his teaching certification. He holds a master’s degree in education from Viterbo University.

Dana Kopatich
Dana Kopatich

Kopatich has taught at Menomonee Falls High School since 2000. She serves as the advisor of the school’s chapter of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) and is chair of the Science Curriculum committee for grades 9-12. She also has been involved with the school’s Amnesty Club’s “The Water Project,” a non-profit organization that builds wells in Africa to provide access to clean water.

“Ms. Kopatich was and still is a supportive and dedicated teacher who is always accessible when a student is in need,” senior biochemistry major Shelby Hader wrote in her nomination. “No matter the question or topic, she was always willing to talk.

“I have taken [her] advice from senior year of high school all the way to my senior year at Lawrence,” Hader added. “Ms. Kopatich has influenced me as not only a woman, a scientist and a striving medical professional, but as a curious human, always wondering and always searching for answers.”

Kopatich is a member of the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers, the National Association of Biology Teachers and the National Science Teacher Association. She has been the recipient of the Outstanding Science Teacher Award from the University of Minnesota, TMJ4’s Top Teacher Award, the Outstanding Faculty Award at Menomonee Falls and the school district’s Superintendent Child Advocacy Award.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from UW-Milwaukee and her teaching certification from UW-Whitewater in 2000. She earned a master’s degree in chemical and life science from the University of Maryland.

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.

 

 

James Evans 1941-2018: Chemistry scholar, computing pioneer

Former Lawrence University chemistry and computer science professor James S. Evans died Monday, April 23 at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. He was 77 years old.

James Evans
James Evans

Among the longest-serving faculty members in the history of the university, Professor Evans’ tenure spanned 45 years before his retirement in 2011.

A native of Bridgton, Maine, Jim joined the Lawrence faculty in 1966 as a 25-year-old with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bates College and a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry and physics from Princeton University. Jim arrived in Appleton with a three-year tenure track offer from then-Lawrence President Curtis Tarr.

Early in his career, Jim taught introductory chemistry courses, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and Freshman Studies. He later added regular involvement with a distinctive honors-level Principles of Physics and Chemistry sequence. An active and engaged researcher, Jim’s research and scholarship focused on proteins, protein fragments and peptides.

Blaming an inability “to convincingly say no,” Jim began a 15-year stint of multitasking in 1979 when he traded some of his chemistry teaching duties for responsibilities as director of Lawrence’s emerging computer center. He provided leadership in bringing the power of computing into both the academic and administrative areas of the university.

Jim was a natural choice for the role, having already helped usher in the first computer-related teaching to the Lawrence curriculum and collaborating with members of the physics department on a laboratory computing course.

James Evans at 2011 commencement ceremonies
Jim Evans was recognized with an honorary master of arts degree at Lawrence’s 2011 commencement.

An interest in using computers beyond numerical work or signal processing also led Jim to write a text formatting program. With a physics colleague, he co-directed a multi-year (1979-82) National Science Foundation-funded project that focused on acquainting faculty members throughout the sciences and social sciences with computation. He also helped establish today’s interdisciplinary mathematics-computer science major and taught several courses in that major.

Among many professional accomplishments, Jim wrote two books, “Itanium Architecture for Programmers” and “Alpha RISC Architecture for Programmers.”

Beyond teaching chemistry and computer science, Jim served as an institutional “sidewalk superintendent,” assisting with the planning and execution of a variety of campus building projects, including the construction of Thomas Steitz Hall of Science and Hiett Hall and major remodeling projects in Main Hall and Youngchild Hall.

Late in his career, Jim served in an advisory capacity to the dean of the faculty, the vice president for business affairs and other offices and departments, helping develop institutional strategies involving technology.

Plans for a memorial service are still pending at this time.

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.

Plenty of star power in Lawrence University’s 2018-19 Performing Arts Series

There will be no shortage of world-class musicians showcasing their talents during Lawrence University’s 2018-19 Performing Arts Series.

Season subscriptions are now on sale for both the Artist Series and Jazz Series. Subscribers also can choose from either four-concert series to create their own personalized “Favorite 4” package. Discounts are available to senior citizens. For the first time, tickets for all students with a school I.D. and children aged 3-12 are free. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 17. For more information, contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or boxoffice@lawrence.edu.

THE ARTIST SERIES

One of the country’s premier chamber music ensembles, Imani Winds makes an encore return to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 as part of next season’s Artist Series. The five-member ensemble previously performed on the series in 2003 and 2009.

Imani Winds
Imani Winds makes its third appearance on Lawrence’s Artist Series Feb. 22, 2019.

Founded in 1997, the Grammy Award-nominated group is known for its adventurous programing, which includes newly composed works as well as compositions featuring African, Latin American and American influences.

Andy Mast, conductor of the Lawrence Wind Ensemble, calls Imani Winds “a groundbreaking woodwind quintet comprised of exceptional artists who are committed to the highest standards of woodwind chamber music.

“Their strong commitment to innovative programming along with commanding performances of traditional repertoire makes Imani Winds a peerless performer in the musical world,” Mast added. “Our audience is sure to be treated to a thrilling and engaging night of music next Februrary when they visit us.”

Imani Winds — flutist/composer Valerie Colman, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mark Dover, horn player/composer Jeff Scott and bassoonist Monica Ellis — have toured throughout the United States as well as internationally. They’ve also participated in the residency program of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Joining them on next year’s Artist Series are:

• Calidore String Quartet with oboist Christina Gómez Godoy, Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m.
Founded at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in 2010, the Calidore String Quartet has won accolades across the globe while establishing themselves as a rising star among chamber music ensembles. Grand prize winners in the inaugural M-Prize Competition in 2016 at the University of Michigan, the quartet performs regularly throughout the world.

Spain’s Godoy joins the quartet for this concert, bringing with her exceptional musicality and color-rich sound. In 2013 at the age of 22, Godoy was appointed principal solo oboist in the Staatskapelle Berlin Orchestra. She has since performed as guest principal oboe in leading orchestras around the world, including the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Lorelei Ensemble
Known for their innovative and inventive programming, the Lorelei Ensemble visits the Lawrence Memorial Chapel March 1, 2019.

• Lorelei Ensemble, Friday, March 1, 2019, 8 p.m.
The nine-member, all-female vocal ensemble has been praised by The New York Times for its “warm, lithe and beautifully blended sound.” Based in Boston, Lorelei Ensemble has earned a national reputation for its bold and inventive programming, working with established as well as emerging composers to create new works that reveal the extraordinary.

Beth Willer, who founded the group in 2007, is known for her “technical expertise” and commitment to the contemporary vocal art. She’s led the ensemble in collaborations with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and Juventas New Music. The group was recognized by Chrous America with its 2014 Louis Botto Award for “innovative action and entrepreneurial zeal.”

• Alarm Will Sound, Friday, April 5, 2019, 8 p.m.
One of “the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene” according to The New York Times, the 20-member Alarm Will Sound is committed to innovative performances and recordings of today’s music, performing demanding works with energetic skill.

Members of the ensemble began playing together while studying at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N. Y., and served as artists-in-residence in 2013-14 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Collectively they feature diverse experience in composition, improvisation, jazz, popular styles, early music and world music. With numerous composer-performers on its roster, Alarm Will Sound provides an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new works.

Two Alarm Will Sound members, flutist Erin Lesser and trombonist Michael Clayville, are on the faculty of the Lawrence conservatory of music.

THE JAZZ SERIES

A New York City musical institution, the renowned Vanguard Jazz Orchestra takes the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m., closing Lawrence’s annual Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. The multiple Grammy-winning 16-piece big band features some of the world’s finest musicians, most of whom lead their own bands when not performing with the orchestra.

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra closes Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend Nov. 3.

In the 52 years since Count Basie Orchestra trumpeter Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis from the Stan Kenton Orchestra co-founded the group in 1966, the orchestra has been a standing fixture on Monday Night Live at the Big Apple’s Village Vanguard, drawing from a catalogue of more than 300 tunes. The New York Times described the orchestra’s customary Monday night performances as “a residency with no close equivalent in jazz and few parallels in any creative field.”

Since 1999, the orchestra has released eight albums, seven of which earned Grammy Award nominations, including two which won Grammys.

Joining them on next year’s Jazz Series are:

• Regina Carter Quartet, Friday, November 2, 7:30 p.m.
Hailed by The Los Angeles Times as “a talented, charismatic player who is almost single-handedly reviving interest in the violin as a jazz instrument,” Carter opens Lawernce’s 38th annual weekend salute to all things jazz.

A native of Detroit who now calls New York City home, Carter has established herself as the foremost jazz violinist of her generation. The MacArthur Foundation recognized her integration of a wide range of musical styles into the realm of improvisational jazz violin by awarding her one of its $500,000 “genius” grants in 2006.

Carter’s most recent release, “Ella: Accentuate the Positive,” and complentary touring program, “Simply Ella,” mark the 100th birthday of musical legend Ella Fitzgerald, the source of much of Carter’s musical inspiration.

Nicole Mitchell
Nicole Mitchell is developing a new improvisational language that incorporates her voice with the flute.

• Nicole Mitchell Quartet, Saturday, February 2, 2019, 8 p.m.
An award-winning, creative flutist, composer, bandleader, educator and trans-disciplinary conceptualist, Mitchell repeartedly has been honored as “Top Flutist of the Year” by DownBeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalists Association.

Known as a leading voice of jazz’s cutting edge, the New York Times says Mitchell “brings an eclectic ear and a frothy vigor to her instrument,” hailing her as “the most inventive flutist in the past 30 years of jazz.”

In the mid-1990s, Mitchell founded the Black Earth Ensemble, for which she writes music with a storytelling sensibility. She also composes for contemporary ensembles of varied instrumentation and size while incorporating improvisation and wise aesthetic expression.

• Anat Cohen Quartet, Friday, May 10, 2019, 8 p.m.
Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. The Jazz Journalists Association has voted Anat “Clarinetist of the Year” nine years in a row. She also has topped both the Critics and Readers Polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat Magazine every year since 2011.

Beyond the clarinet, Cohen has been recognized with multiple “Rising Star” honors in both the soprano and tenor saxophone categories as well as for Jazz Artist of the Year by DownBeat.

The Chicago Tribune praised Cohen for “The lyric beauty of her tone, easy fluidity of her technique and extroverted manner of her delivery,” making her music “accessible to all.”

Jose Encarnacion, director of jazz studies at Lawrence, provided a philosophical assessment of this year’s Jazz Series.

“What is it to be inspired?,” Encarnacion asked. “Is it to admire a glorious jazz band like the Village Vanguard Orchestra who has played phenomenal music every Monday night in the same New York City venue for 53 years? Is it to look in awe at the women in jazz and the major role they’ve played and the enormous contributions they’ve made the last 70 years? Singers like Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and instrumentalists like violinist Regina Carter, flutist Nicole Mitchell and clarinetist Anat Cohen clearly have been leaders in the development of jazz.

“Jazz is timeless. It grows, survives, innovates, is rooted, transformed, raw and elegant all at the same time,” Encarnacion added. “Lawrence is inspired by the greats who have been, are and always will be. They have opened doors for us to peek into this truth and it is our duty and great honor to inspire others and make sure that door forever stays open. Join us this year and experience inspirational truth.”

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.

DownBeat Magazine names Lawrence Jazz Ensemble, Jake Victor 5TET nation’s best

Patty Darling
Patty Darling ’85

The best in the country. So says DownBeat Magazine.

The “bible” of the jazz world has named the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE) and the student quintet Jake Victor 5TET winners in its 41st annual Student Music Awards (SMA) competition. Results were announced in the magazine’s June edition.

Under the direction of Patty Darling, the 19-member LUJE was named undergraduate college winner in the SMA’s large jazz ensemble category. Seniors Jake Victor and Jack Kilkelly-Schmidt, who formed a band last fall while studying abroad at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in the Netherlands, won the undergraduate college SMA for small jazz combo/student-led ensemble as the Jake Victor 5TET for the album “Twisted Heads.”

This was the fourth time in its history LUJE has been honored by DownBeat. It was previously recognized in 1985, 2000 and 2007.

DownBeat’s SMAs are considered among the highest music honors in the field of jazz education. They are presented in 13 categories in five separate divisions: junior high, high school, performing high school, undergraduate college and graduate college.

“Winning the DownBeat award is certainly not something we take for granted, said José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence. “Being recipients of the DownBeat award is an honor and privilege we receive for loving what we do. We are most grateful.”Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble

Darling said the award is a confirmation of the quality of jazz studies at Lawrence.

“It is such a great honor,” said Darling, a 1985 Lawrence graduate and protégé of the late Fred Sturm, founder of LUJE. “It’s wonderful to have Lawrence recognized nationally as having a strong jazz program. I knew our performances were very strong, but I also know how the DownBeat awards are very competitive. As a large ensemble, it’s difficult to try to guess what music would be considered really dynamic.”

LUJE was selected for the SMA from a submitted recording of three songs: an arrangement by Sturm of Marcus Miller’s “Splatch”; “Wyrgly” by Maria Schneider and “Egberto” by Florian Ross. “Splatch” was performed by LUJE last October at the Kaleidoscope concert at the Fox Valley Performing Arts Center and then again as the opening number last November at Lawrence’s Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend concert where it was recorded.

“There is no way LUJE is as strong as it is without Lawrence’s outstanding jazz faculty working so closely with the students. It’s very rewarding as an educator to be the one to channel this talent from the students and from the faculty, and all that energy, into something that is recognized as successful. It’s truly a great privilege and a joy for me to have the opportunity to create music with them every day.”
    — Patty Darling, director of LUJE

“All three submissions were good, but ‘Splatch’ was the absolute best,” said Darling, a 1984 DownBeat winner herself as a Lawrence student for her arrangement of “Seven Steps to Heaven.” “The performers and soloist were outstanding and the live mix was outstanding. It’s tough to get big bands to sound great in the Chapel. The band played with so much energy. It was one of those perfect performances where everything went right.”

Two of the selections submitted were from the 2016-17 version of LUJE, but Darling said both last year’s and this year’s ensemble are special.

“Both bands have lots of depth, with good rhythm sections and several students with strong improvisation skills,” said Darling. “There is something about this year’s band that makes almost every rehearsal fun and engaging. They support each other, they’re excited, they’re absolutely dedicated, they have this camaraderie that I’ve never seen in a band before. They really want to work together and help each other.”

While Darling’s name is on the SMA certificate as the ensemble’s director, she is quick to stress “it takes a village” to win awards like this.

“There is no way LUJE is as strong as it is without Lawrence’s outstanding jazz faculty working so closely with the students,” said Darling, now in her third year of leading the ensemble. “It’s very rewarding as an educator to be the one to channel this talent from the students and from the faculty, and all that energy, into something that is recognized as successful. It’s truly a great privilege and a joy for me to have the opportunity to create music with them every day.”

Where LUJE’s SMA recognition was a bit more calculated, Victor and his Lawrence roommate Kilkelly-Schmidt’s award was full of serendipity. After all, until a few months ago, the Jake Victor 5TET didn’t even exist. But thanks to an open jam session, five virtual strangers collectively found musical magic.

Jake Victor and Jack Kilkelly-Schmidt
Seniors Jake Victor (left) ad Jack Kilkelly-Schmidt.

Early in the school year, at a weekly public jam session in Amsterdam hosted by a local establishment, Victor, a pianist, and Kilkelly-Schmidt, who plays guitar, found themselves on stage with a drummer from Spain and a bassist from Belgium. They played one standard together and had a blast.

“We fit like a glove,” said Victor. “Immediately after we finished playing, we looked at each other said ‘let’s get out of here, grab a drink and talk.’”

The next day at a conservatory class, a saxophonist from Estonia turned the new quartet into a quintet. They began playing jazz standards together for the next several weeks before a personal goal of Victor’s altered their history.

“I had set a challenge for myself of doing more writing,” said Victor, who was trying to amass material for his senior recital. “I was writing every day, not necessarily a full tune, but I was writing something every day. I wrote one tune that I liked, I was getting these songs together for my recital back here in the spring. I told the guys, I had this tune and I thought if we could record it on a Zoom recorder, I could send it to my guys back home as a reference recording so they could get an idea of how the tune should sound on my recital in the spring.”

On board with the idea, the band soon recorded another Victor original.

“I told them, ‘well, I do have more. If we could get them all together that would be awesome,’” Victor said, who brought several more of his compositions to the next session. “We came up with the idea to record all of them professionally and make an album. It ended up being The Jake Victor 5TET which was crazy to me. I wrote all the tunes and it was my first time as a band leader.”

The rapidity in which everything came together still makes Victor shake his head.

“The thing that blows my mind, it was October 11th when I brought in the first tune and we recorded the album on December 8th,” said Victor, a percussion performance major from Palatine, Ill. “Start to finish of the album was a two-month period of writing the tunes, learning the tunes and recording the tunes. That’s a testament to all the guys. There’s not many people that I’ve played with that really just fit like a glove that easily. The chemistry of the group is really something special.”

"Twisted Heads" album coverThe end result, “Twisted Heads,” was recorded at Key Element Music Studios, which, adding to the serendipity, is owned by Daan Herweg, the pianist who hosted the open jam session at Café Nel in Amsterdam where the musicians first met. The album features seven Victor songs and one track written by his friend, Jason Koth, a 2017 Lawrence graduate.

“I asked Jason to do some electronics on the album after the fact,” Victor explained. “He created a minute and a half interlude based on the rest of my material.”

With Darling’s encouragement and recommendation, Victor submitted two tracks off the album for DownBeat’s consideration. It was late February when an email from DownBeat popped up his phone while he was practicing in the jazz room. Bedlam resided just a click away.

“I opened it, started reading and got crazy excited,” said Victor. “I saw ‘We have the results for the DownBeat Awards and we have good news! I immediately went back, FaceTimed the quintet and said ‘Guys, we won the DownBeat!’ It was pretty surreal.”

Twisted Heads” was released on April 15. Victor, Kilkelly-Schmidt and their bandmates — drummer Eloi Pascual, bassist Matteo Mazzu and saxophonist Tobias Tammearu — are currently putting plans in place for a 10-day Midwest tour starting in late August from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Lexington, Ky. What the future holds is still to be determined. The three international musicians would like to come to the states for a while, while Victor is contemplating returning to Amsterdam for grad school.

For Victor, winning the DownBeat award was the icing on a valuable personal experience.

“It turned out to be a really worthwhile challenge. I told myself by the time I graduate I want to have a book of my tunes that I can bring to a gig. When I first started writing seriously, I always sat on tunes for too long — nothing was ever good enough for me to bring in to bandmates and this was a way to work through that.

“I didn’t want to look back on the last three years and have three tunes written,” he added. “I also realized I would have to write a lot of stuff that I didn’t like before I could write stuff I did like. This was kind of a way for me to piece through all of that and start mining and chiseling away at whatever is going to become my compositional voice.”

Since DownBeat launched its Student Music Awards competition in 1978, Lawrence students and ensembles have won a total of 30 SMAs, including 10 in the past eight years.

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.

7th annual Latin American and Spanish Film Festival returns with eight films from six countries

Foreign film fans, your wait is over.

Lawrence University’s 7th annual Latin American and Spanish Film Festival returns April 25-28 with eight films from six countries.Latin American and Spanish Film Festival logo

There will be two daily screenings in the Warch Campus Center cinema at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Each film is shown in its original language with English subtitles. All the films are rated R or NR for mature audiences only, and are free and open to the public.

“We are exceptionally excited to showcase a superb selection of recently released films during this year’s festival,” said Rosa Tapia, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Spanish Department. “The eight films we’re showing this year offer a comprehensive view of the socio-cultural, sexual, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity that can be found in what we know as the Spanish-speaking world.

Highlighlighting the festival will be a visit Friday, April 27 by award-winning Puerto Rican director Carla Cavina. She will introduce her 2016 film, “Extra Terrestres” (“Extra Terrestrials”), winner of the Audience Award for best international feature film at the Puerto Rico Queer FilmFest, and participate in an audience question-and-answer following a screening of the film.

Rosa Tapia
Rosa Tapia

A free public reception will be held Saturday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center prior to the screening of the festival’s final film.

“The reception is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our loyal film festival followers and provide an opportunity to celebrate and discuss our favorites from this year’s line-up,” said Tapia.

This year’s festival schedule:

Wednesday, April 25, 4:30 p.m. “Woodpeckers” (Dominican Republic, 2017, 108 min.)
Julián begins a jail sentence for petty theft inside the notorious Najayo prison just outside of Santo Domingo. While navigating the indignities, corruption and everyday violence from both guards and fellow inmates, he becomes immersed in the system of “woodpecking.” Julián’s entanglement with one female inmate is the fuse that ignites the film’s events.

Wednesday, April 25, 7:30 p.m.The Last Suit (Argentina, 2017, 92 min.)Scene from the movie "The Last Suit"
Abraham Bursztein, an 88-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor, leaves Buenos Aires to return to Poland, where he seeks to find the man who saved him from death at Auschwitz.  After seven decades without any contact with his rescuer, Abraham does his best to fulfill his promise of returning one day.

Thursday, April 26, 4:30 p.m. “Tempest (Mexico, 2016, 105 min.)
A powerful documentary that reflects the paralyzing effects of fear after loss and unthinkable violence in the lives of different women. Miriam is arrested at her workplace and is accused, without proof, or “people trafficking.” Adela works as a clown in a traveling circus. Ten years ago, her life was transformed when her daughter Monica went missing. Through their voices, we experience their feelings of loss and pain, but also love, dignity and resistance.

Thursday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.  “The Untamed” (Mexico, 2016, 98 min.)
Alejandra is a young housewife raising two boys with husband, Angel, in a small city. Her brother works as a nurse in a local hospital. Their provincial lives are upset with the arrival of mysterious Veronica who convinces them that inside an isolated cabin in the woods dwells something not of this world that could be the answer to all of their problems.

Scene from the movie Extra TerrestrialsFriday, April 27, 4:30 p.m. Extra-Terrestrials” (Puerto Rico, 2016, 110 min.) 
Teresa’s return home after many years’ of estrangement from her family to announce her engagement coincides with a catastrophe in her family’s poultry business. The two events set off a chain reaction that will either unite or destroy her fractious clan. Long at war with her authoritarian father, Teresa puts her coming out on hold to help him save his company while Teresa’s mother, sister and brother all have secrets of their own. The stage is set for an explosion that will either bring the family together or jolt them into separate trajectories.

Friday, April 27, 7:30 p.m. “Nobody’s Watching” (Argentina, 2017, 102 min.)
Nico is a famous actor in Argentina, but in New York, no one notices. After giving up a successful career in his home country for a chance to make it in the Big Apple, he needs to juggle bartending, babysitting and odd jobs to keep himself afloat. When old friends from Buenos Aires come to visit, he needs to juggle the image of his old life with the reality of the struggling actor in New York City.

Saturday, April 28, 5p.m. “Summer 1993(Spain, 2017, 97 min.)Scene from the movie "Summer 1993"
This beautiful and sensitive autobiographical account of a summer in a young girl’s life after the death of her mother was the recipient of 28 international film awards, including six for best film. After her mother’s death, six-year-old Frida is sent to live with her uncle’s family in the countryside, but she struggles to forget her mother and adapt to her new life.

Saturday, April 28, 8:30 p.m., “Spider Thieves” (Chile, 2017, 94 min.)
Inspired by actual events, this teenage thriller is a unique social commentary on dreams, class, and unfulfilled expectations in contemporary Chile. Three teenage girls from a Santiago shanty town concoct a plan to climb buildings and rob expensive apartments to get all the neat “stuff” they’ve seen on TV and in department stores. When word spreads they become known as the notorious “spider thieves.”

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.

Former U.S. Acting Associate Attorney discusses net neutrality in Scarff lecture series

Former U.S. Acting Associate Attorney General Bill Baer, who is spending part of the spring term at Lawrence University as the 2017-2018 Distinguished Visiting Scarff Professor, discusses rules governing distribution of content over the internet in a Scarff lecture series address.

Bill Baer
Bill Baer ’72

Baer presents “Net Neutrality, Burger King and Regulating the Internet,” Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

For more than eight years, free market proponents and those seeking rules governing distribution of content over the internet have been engaged in battles — in the courts, in Congress, with the Federal Communications Commission and in public forums — about whether government regulation is needed. Baer examines that debate from the perspective of an antitrust enforcer whose mission is to ensure that consumers benefit from competitive markets.

A 1972 Lawrence graduate and current member of the Board of Trustees, Baer spent four years in the U.S. Department of Justice under President Obama. He served as assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division from 2013-2016 and one year as acting associate attorney general, the number three position in the department.

During his tenure as assistant attorney general, the antitrust division brought and won more civil and criminal enforcement cases than at any point in its history. While at the Justice Department, Baer also was involved in policy work related to merger enforcement guidelines, net neutrality, the relationship between intellectual property rights and antitrust, and between U.S. trade policy and antitrust enforcement.

Prior to his time in the Justice Department, Baer worked at the Federal Trade Commission on two separate occasions: in the late 1970’s and again from 1995-1999 as director of the Bureau of Competition. He is the only person to lead antitrust enforcement at both the FTC and the Justice Department.

Baer is currently a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he leads the antitrust division. He has twice been named the best competition lawyer in the world by Global Competition Review and was honored in 2010 by The National Law Journal as one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.”

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.

 

 

 

 

U.S. leadership and diplomacy examined in Povolny lecture series address

Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson ’85

Glen Johnson, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for strategic communications, shares some of his experiences traveling the world with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a Lawrence University Povolny Lecture Series in International Studies address.

Based on his forthcoming book of the same title, Johnson presents “Window Seat on the World: A View of U.S. Leadership and Diplomacy” Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

A 1985 Lawrence graduate, spent four years (2013-2017) working in the U.S. Department of State, accompanying Kerry to 91 countries and all seven continents while racking up 1.3 million miles of travel. He was at Kerry’s side for negotiations over Syria’s chemical weapons program, Afghanistan’s power-sharing agreement, Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East peace process and the Paris climate change accord.

Prior to entering public service, Johnson enjoyed a lengthy journalism career that included positions with the City News Bureau of Chicago, The Salem (Mass.) Evening News, The Sun of Lowell, Mass., The Associated Press and The Boston Globe. During that span, he covered five presidential campaigns and eight national nominating conventions. As a columnist for the Boston Globe, he wrote an open letter to then Republican presidential Mitt Romney prior to a Feb. 2012 campaign stop at Lawrence to give the former governor a brief history lesson on Lawrence and Appleton.

While a student at Lawrence, Johnson wrote for The Lawrentian and was a tight end on the 1981 football team that reached the national semifinals of the NCAA D-III football playoffs and was subsequently inducted into the Lawrence Athletic Hall of Fame.

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.

 

Second ACM student film festival returns to Lawrence April 20-22

Graphic logo for ACM Film FestivalThe creative vision and unique perspectives of college-age aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters will be showcased April 20-22 as Lawrence University hosts the second biennial Associated Colleges of the Midwest Film Festival.

More than 75 films, including 12 by Lawrence student filmmakers, will be screened in 90-minute blocks in Lawrence’s Warch Campus Center cinema and the Wriston Art Center auditorium beginning Friday, April 20. The films selected for the festival were drawn from more than 150 submissions from students at 10 ACM colleges.

The festival’s films span genres ranging from documentaries and narratives to animation and experimental, as well as music videos. Some films are less than a minute in length, others nearly an hour. A complete schedule of all festival activities, including film screenings, can be found here.

Amy Ongiri
Amy Ongiri

“We are really excited about this year’s festival in part because we got almost double the submissions from the first time around,” said Amy Ongiri, Jill Beck Director of Film Studies at Lawrence.  “The other thing that’s exciting is we received a lot of repeats, so students were excited enough to participate twice. The quality of work is really incredible.”

A discussion on the backgrounds of the festival’s guest judges — actor Garrett Brown, artist/experimental videographer Cecelia Condit, videographer/video blogger Alexis Pauline Gumbs and animation filmmaker Deanna Morse kick things off Friday at 6 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center.

Condit (1:15 /”A Few Short Videos”) Morse (2 p.m./“An Animator’s Journey”), Brown (2:45 p.m./How To Make it SMALL in Hollywood”) and Gumbs (3:30 p.m./”The Most Effective Way To Do It: Black Feminism and Film”) also will conduct special presentations Saturday afternoon in the Wriston Art Center auditorium.

Brown performs his original one-man show “What’s Funny in a Dark Time?” Saturday at 9:15 p.m. in Cloak Theatre.

Screen shot from the student film "Talk Means Trouble"
A screen shot from Lawrence senior Liam Guinan’s film “Talk Means Trouble,” which will be shown in the noon-1 block Saturday, April 21 in the Warch Campus Center.

The judges, in conjunction with faculty and students representing ACM schools, will select films for a variety of categories, including Best of the Midwest, Social Impact, Cinematic Artistry, Out of the Box, which honors original concepts and an Audience Choice Award, which was won in 2016 by Lawrence student Finn Bjornerud for his film “A Moment of Consideration: Townies Skateboarding at Lawrence University.”  The awards will be presented in a ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

While admitting a bit of bias, Ongiri says the ACM Film Festival would hold its own against any student film festival in the country.

“We really have some excellent film programs in ACM, so the work is comparable to any that you’d see in any festival of this type. I would say it even better, having been to many of those festivals,” said Ongiri. “It’s an exciting chance to see a wide variety of really excellent films. We have something for everybody. If you are interested in films, or just interested in having a good time, this is really an opportunity to experience something that only happens once every two years.”

Screen shot from the student film "impressions of Various Men"
A screen shot from Lawrence junior Ali Shuger’s film “Impressions of Various Men,” which will be shown in the 8-9:45 p.m. block Friday, April 20 in the Warch Campus Center.

The festival is more than just films. It also includes research with student scholars presenting papers on Sunday morning on topics from a variety of theoretical, cultural and historical approaches to film studies and visual culture. Students were also encouraged to submit original screenplays for the festival. Brown and Lawrence theater students will perform a live reading of the winning screenplay and the two honorable mentions as determined by the judges Sunday morning in Cloak Theatre.

“That’s always a very exciting and interesting part of the festival,” said Ongiri, “because it not only showcases the screenplay that won, but also Lawrence students who are in an acting class.”

Lawrence students whose films are scheduled to be screened at the festival include works by by freshman Kanyon Beringer, Menasha, junior Lukasz Dziewiatkowski, Chicago, Ill., sophomore Lily Greene, Madison, senior Liam Guinan, Elmhurst, Ill., junior Jeffrey Ryan, North Barrington, Ill., junior Ali Shuger, Batavia, Ill., sophomore Tien Tran, Hanoi, Vietnam, and 2017 graduate Finn Bjornerud, Appleton (films made while they were still students were accepted for the festival).

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.