Category: Conservatory

From Blues to Broadway: Six-week Series Explores History of America’s Music

Think of it as that really cool college course on American pop music you never had a chance to take.

Lawrence University opens a six-week program — “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway” — Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. featuring documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th-century American popular music.

Each weekly session will begin with an introduction to the film and musical topic by Lawrence Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Erica Scheinberg. The film screening (approximately 50 minutes) and audience discussion (45 minutes) follows. The series is free and open to the public. All programs will be held in Lawrence’s Warch Campus Center cinema except for the Feb. 28 session, which will be conducted at the Appleton Public Library.

Designed for a general audience, the “America’s Music” series examines six 20th-century American musical topics that are deeply connected to the history, culture and geography of the United States: blues and gospel; jazz; mambo and hip hop; rock n’ roll; bluegrass and country; and Broadway. The series allows participants the opportunity to learn how today’s cultural landscape has been influenced by the development of the popular musical forms through film excerpts and interactive discussion.

“American popular music is a particularly exciting topic for a film and discussion series,” said Scheinberg.  “We’ve all experienced the ways that music moves us, triggers memories, creates a sense of shared experience and community. But music also has a lot to tell us about the particular time and place in which it was created — the social, political and cultural forces that shaped it.

“The America’s Music series welcomes community members of all ages, backgrounds and experiences to watch and discuss music documentaries that portray the sights and sounds of a diverse array of artists and musical styles,” Scheinberg added. “It’s an opportunity to explore American history and to share and reflect upon our own experiences as music listeners.”

The onset of the 20th-century brought pervasive changes to American society. During the early part of the century, these social changes combined with new technologies to create a mass market for popular music that evolved over the next 100 years.

Each weekly screening and discussion session examines a musical topic in the context of key social and historical developments, with events in American music history acting as a catalyst for that examination.

In conjunction with the series and prior to the Feb. 28 program, the five-member Oshkosh-based bluegrass band Dead Horses will perform a free concert on Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Appleton Public Library.

Lawrence was one of 50 sites nationally selected to host the “American Music” program. It is a project of the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint and the Society for American Music.

The “American Music” schedule:

 Jan. 31 — The Blues and Gospel Music, featuring excerpts from the films “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Episode 1, Feel Like Going Home” and “Say Amen, Somebody,” Warch Campus Center cinema, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 7 — Swing Jazz, featuring excerpts from the films “The Velocity of Celebration,” by Ken Burns and “International Sweethearts of Rhythm,” Warch Campus Center cinema, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 14 — Latin Rhythms from Mambo to Hip-Hop, featuring excerpts from the films “Latin Music USA” and the documentary “From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale,” Warch Campus Center cinema, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 21 — Rock, featuring excerpts from the film “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Warch Campus Center cinema, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 28 — Country and Bluegrass, featuring excerpts from the documentary “High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music,” Appleton Public Library, 6:30 p.m.

March 7 — Broadway and Tin Pan Alley, featuring “Syncopated City,” the second episode of the award-winning series “Broadway: The American Musical.”  This program is a prelude to the appearance of five-time Tony Award-winning singer Audra McDonald on the Lawrence University Artists Series, Sunday, March 10.  Warch Campus Center, 6:30 p.m.

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.

Lawrence University Presents Benjamin Britten’s Comic Opera “Albert Herring”

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, Lawrence University brings the great British composer’s hilarious coming-of-age comic opera “Albert Herring” to the stage Feb. 14-17.

Performances in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.  Feb. 14-16 with a 3 p.m. matinee performance Sunday, Feb. 17.  Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Originally set in 1900, guest director/choreographer Nicola Bowie transports the production to 1947, the year Britten wrote the opera.

“It is a period that resonated with me, and I believe further serves to accentuate the characters, making them more relevant to an audience in 2013,” said Bowie, an accomplished director who has staged operas with the New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington Opera, among others.  “It proved to be a perfect fit, emphasizing that life in many rural areas of Britain and probably elsewhere has changed very little over the last few hundred years.”

Intricate and Witty

Pairing an intricate but “listenable” score with a witty libretto, “Albert Herring” parodies life in a rural British village, poking fun at puffed-up politicians, flighty school teachers, vapid vicars, bumbling police officers and an assortment of other eccentrics. But his treatment of shy young Albert’s coming of age has an underpinning of sensitivity and genuine emotion.

When the village committee fails to find a local girl virtuous enough to be crowned queen of its May Day festival, Albert, a virginal “mama’s boy,” is crowned May King instead. Unhappy with his prudish reputation and with the help of with the help of a little spiked lemonade, Albert breaks away from his mother’s domination and the suppressive morals of his elders for a night of debauchery and adventure.

While comic in tone, the opera is as musically complex as any the more serious works penned by Britten, named the most frequently performed opera composer born in the 20th century by Opera America.

“’Albert Herring’ is a wonderful learning experience for our students because it features a large cast of characters, each of whom has significant musical, dramatic and vocal challenges,” said Bonnie Koestner, associate professor of music at Lawrence and vocal coach for the production. “With its theme of a young man’s awkward journey to manhood and independence, it is an ideal dramatic subject for college students.  This opera is a major undertaking for undergraduates, but our students have risen to the challenge admirably and are prepared to give our audience a very entertaining evening of musical theatre.”

The double-cast production features junior Ian Koziara and senior Issa Ransom as the titular character. Junior Zoie Reams and sophomore Elizabeth Vaughan play Albert’s overbearing mother. Senior Cayla Rosche and junior Gabriella Guilfoil play Lady Billows, an elderly autocrat, while senior Susan Borkowski and junior Graycie Gardner play Florence, Lady Billows’ companion.

Octavio Mas-Arocas conducts a 13-piece orchestra. Karin Kopischke served as the production’s costume designer and Steve Barnes designed the set. Dave Owens served as technical director while 2004 Lawrence graduate and New York City-based consultant Aaron Sherkow served as the production’s guest lighting designer.

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.

Lawrence University Jazz Series Welcomes The Bad Plus

The convention-breaking jazz trio The Bad Plus makes its Lawrence University debut Friday, February 1 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel as part of the college’s 2012-13 Jazz Series.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors and $17-15 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 920-832-6749.

The Bad Plus: Reid Anderson, bass; Ethan Iverson, piano; and David King, drums. Photo: Cameron Wittig.

The trio —Wisconsin native t Ethan Iverson on piano and Minnesotans Reid Anderson on bass and David King on drums — first performed together as teenagers once in 1990. They spent the next decade out exploring their own individual musical languages before reconnecting in 2000. A year later, they released their debut, self-titled album to critical acclaim, earning “best-of” honors from the New York Times, Chicago Reader and others.

As a band, The Bad Plus has continually attracted diverse audiences, combining ground-breaking original work with creative, genre-hopping covers of artists as diverse as Nirvana, Blondie and Pink Floyd as well as Neil Young, David Bowie and Black Sabbath.

The New York Times declared the band “better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock.”           

Bill Carrothers, who has played with many of the jazz world’s giants during a 31-year professional career, calls the Bad Plus “one of those groups that only comes along every once in a while in the timeline of our art form.”

“They are all consummate musicians, playing music in a way that is completely their own, doing so with one collective mind. They are taking the art form in new and unexpected directions” said Carrothers, who teaches jazz piano in Lawrence’s Conservatory of Music and collaborated on the Bad Plus drummer David King’s 2012 album “I’ve Been Ringing You.” “This is what we’re all trying to do, or would like to try to do. They’re actually doing it.”

The band’s discography of 10 albums includes 2010’s “Never Stop” and 2012’s “Made Possible,” both of which feature all original material. The trio, which has graced the covers of Downbeat and JazzTimes magazines, has toured steadily while collaborating with jazz legends Joshua Redman and Bill Frisell, among others.

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.

 

Lawrence Dance Series Features World Premiere by Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak

Chicago-based choreographer Molly Shanahan and her Mad Shak Dance Company presents the world premiere of “The Delicate Hour” Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence University Warch Campus Center.  The performance, the third in Lawrence’s 2011-13 dance series, is free and open to the public.

The work is the latest iteration of the company’s multi-year project “Stamina of Curiosity” and a “movement sequel” to the critically-acclaimed “Sharks Before Drowning.” The work’s title, “The Delicate Hour,” was inspired by Shanahan’s attempt to describe the haunting hour of sunset she experienced during a 2010 artist residency in Pennsylvania.

In addition to the performance, Shanahan and Mad Shak company members Kristina Fluty, Benjamin Law and Jessie Marasa, will spend the week (Jan. 14-18) working with Lawrence students.

“I can’t wait to have Molly and the rest of the MadShak Dance Company in residence at Lawrence and to share their performance of ‘The Delicate Hour’ with the Lawrence and Appleton communities,” said Rebecca Salzer, visiting professor of dance. “The members of this company are highly respected teachers and insightful, intelligent dance-makers. They bring a depth of knowledge and craft that will undoubtedly wow both students and audiences.”

A native of Canada and a member of the dance faculty at Northwestern University, Shanahan founded Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak in 1994. She was named a 2007 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist for the creation of My Name is a Blackbird,” for which she was awarded a 2008 Choreographic Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council.  In 2010, Shanahan received the Meier Achievement Award from the Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts.  Her work has been performed at venues throughout North America.

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.

Wild Space Dance Company Bringing “Luscious Layers” to Lawrence University

Weaving together nature, music, prose and a generous helping of humor, members of Milwaukee-based Wild Space Dance Company present “Luscious Layers/Fevered Sleep” Friday, Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. in Lawrence University’s Stansbury Theatre.

 Tickets, at $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, 920-832-6749.

The performance features Wild Space affiliate artists Monica Rodero and Daniel Schuchart, and vocalist/performer Amanda Schoofs in an evening of original work and premieres.

“Luscious Layers” fuses the sweet and forbidden, dreamy desires and tempting realities into full-bodied dances, including “In This Condition,” a solo piece about objects, actions and places that flows from spoken word to Mozart through movement, and “Here,” a duet blending dance and vocals.

Wild Space Dance Company has served as a company-in-residence at Lawrence since 2000, bringing professional dance to the Lawrence community and providing students principles of dance art in performance through classes and workshops taught by artistic director Debra Loewen and members of her company.

Named 2011 Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board, Loewen has led Wild Space Dance Company for 25 years. Known for its site-specific dance events and artistic collaborations, the company merges dance with visual art, architecture and music to create inventive choreography and emotionally-charged performances. It has toured performance work to Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, South Korea and Japan.

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.

Lawrence Pianist Michael Mizrahi earns “Best of 2012” Honors for his Album “The Bright Motion”

Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Music Michael Mizrahi ended the year in style. His album, “The Bright Motion”, was cited by both Time Out New York and Time Out Chicago on their annual list of best albums of 2012.

Pianist Michael Mizrahi

Released last May on New Amsterdam Records, “The Bright Motion” was listed eighth on Time Out New York’s 2012 list of the best opera and classical music of the past year, while Time Out Chicago included it on its year-end, non-numerical top-10 list of the year’s best opera and classical music albums.

The Bright Motion” features 10-tracks of newly composed works for solo piano written specifically for Mizrahi by some of today’s most innovative composers, including William Brittelle, Ryan Brown and John Mayrose.

The video of the album’s title track by Mark Dancigers made its debut on National Public Radio’s “Deceptive Cadence,” which hailed it as “a meditation on quietude amidst unceasing movement, a thick-walled cell of solitary contentment in the churn of daily life.” The video was also highlighted as the “Video of the Day” on Alex Ross’ blog, “The Rest is Noise.”

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.

Values, Customs, Beliefs Explored in Academy of Music Girl Choir Concert

This year’s Lawrence Academy of Music Girl Choir’s annual December concert will have a personalized meaning for the more than 300 young voices in the program.

Two performances of “I Believe” will be staged Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.  Tickets, at $12 for adults and $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Academy, 100 W. Water St., Appleton or 920-832-6632.

Using choral music as the lens through which to explore individual and community values, beliefs or customs, five choirs will sing a variety of sacred and secular repertoire. Program notes will explain how each selection was used within the rehearsal process to explore the concert’s “I Believe” theme.

“As we move into the darker months of the year, people tend to be more reflective and introspective,” said Karen Bruno, director of the Academy of Music and conductor of the Bel Canto choir. “Preparing for this concert gave the girls an opportunity to explore what they stand for, what they hold dear and how the compositions they sing connect to those ideas.

“We look forward to sharing the emotions, ideas, and values expressed within the repertoire and within our community of singers with our audience,” Bruno added.

The concert features girls in grades 3-12 in five different choirs, including the high school component Bel Canto Girl Choir (grades 9-12), which earned second-place honors in the 2012 national American Prize in Choral Performance competition and the Cantabile Choir (grades 7-9) which performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 2011 as part of the National Youth Choir.

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. 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 1,450 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Five Lawrence University Students Win State Titles at Annual NATS Competition

Tory Wood won her third consecutive state title and Ian Koziara won his second straight as Lawrence University claimed five first-place finishers at the 2012 Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition held Nov. 2-3 at UW-Whitewater.

Wood, of Escanaba, Mich., shared first-place honors with classmate Anna Valcour, Burr Ridge, Ill., in the senior women’s division. Both are students of Joanne Bozeman.  Koziara, Wheaton, Ill., won the junior men’s division.  He studies in the voice studio of Steven Spears.

Also earning first-place awards in their respective divisions were Garrett Medlock, Bloomington, Ill., freshman men and Luke Randall, Edina, Minn., senior men. Medlock and Randall are students of Spears and Kenneth Bozeman, respectively.

Forty-seven Lawrence students participated in the competition with 16 of them advancing to the finals. In addition to the five winners, five Lawrence students earned second-place honors and five were awarded third place. The first-place finishers each received $150 for their winning efforts, while second- and third-place finishers received $125 and $100, respectively.

The 2012 auditions drew nearly 400 singers from around the state. The competition features 20 separate divisions grouped by gender and level. 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.

Other Lawrence finalists with their place finish, category and (teacher) include:

SecondPlace Honors
• Brian Acker, upper college music theatre (Karen Leigh-Post)
• Alex York, junior men (Steven Spears)
• Graycen Gardner, junior women (Joanne Bozeman)
• Martin Kulstad, sophomore men (Steven Spears)
• Elizabeth Vaughan, sophomore women (Joanne Bozeman)

ThirdPlace Honors
• John Canfield, junior men (John Gates)
• Zoie Reams, junior women (John Gates)
• Joshua Eidem, sophomore men (Steven Spears)
• Kirsten O’Donnell, sophomore women (Teresa Seidl)
• Paul Gutmann, freshman men (Steven Spears)

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. 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 1,450 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Lawrence University Students Earn Musical Accolades

Alto saxophonist Joe Connor ’15

Lawrence University student saxophonist Joe Connor won first-place honors Oct. 20 in the college division at the Green Bay Civic Orchestra’s 2012 Miroslav Pansky Memorial Concerto Competition. A sophomore from Oregon, Wis., and the only saxophonist in the competition, Connor received a $500 cash award.

He will reprise his winning performance of Darius Mihoud’s “Scaramouche” in a Feb. 16, 2013 concert with the Green Bay Civic Orchestra.  The Pansky competition is open to vocalists and orchestral instrumentalists through the age of 21 from Northeast Wisconsin.

Earlier this year, Connor performed as guest artist with the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble after earning second-place honors in the 24th annual Lakeshore Wind Ensemble Young Artist Competition held last November in Manitowoc. He is a student of Professor of Music Steven Jordheim.

Tubist Trevor Litsey, a junior from Birmingham, Ala., earned second-place honors in the Pansky competition for his performance of Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Concerto in F minor for Tuba.” He is a student of Instructor of Music Marty Erickson.

The Pansky competition is open to vocalists and orchestral instrumentalists through the age of 21 from Northeast Wisconsin.

Dan O’Connor ’13

Daniel O’Connor, a senior from Dallas, Texas, has been awarded $3,000 for winning the 2012 Ruth and Paul Manz Organ Scholarship. The national competition is conducted via submitted recorded audition.

Conducted annually since 1992, the Manz scholarship was established by Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minn., to honor 37 years of service of Paul and Ruth Manz to the congregation.

The Manz scholarship is the latest among numerous awards O’Connor has earned for his musicianship, including:

• first-place honors in the 2009 American Guild of Organists’ regional competition for young organists in Albuquerque, N.M.

• first-place honors in the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Guild of Organists’ 2010 young artists organ regional competition in Minneapolis, Minn.

• first-place honors in the 2011 Wisconsin National Federation of Music Clubs’ Biennial Student/Collegiate Competition.

He is a student of university organist Kathrine Handford.

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. 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 1,450 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Lawrence University Orchestral Studies Director Named Conductor-in-Residence of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival

Lawrence University’s new director of orchestral studies Octavio Mas-Arocas has been appointed conductor-in-residence of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.

Octavio Mas-Arocas

Mas-Arocas, who joined the Lawrence Conservatory of Music faculty this fall as conductor of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra and opera productions, will direct the education, programming and performance of the Cumberland Orchestra — a 90-member youth ensemble — during next summer’s month-long festival (June 22- July 21).

“It is wonderful to see Octavio selected for this prestigious position,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory. “Sewanee clearly saw in Octavio all the outstanding qualities — musicianship, leadership and commitment to education — that we at Lawrence saw when we made him our director of orchestral studies. High visibility appointments such as this are great for both Octavio and Lawrence.”

Prior to joining the Lawrence faculty, Mas-Arocas spent four years as music director and conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra in Michigan.

Established in 1957, the internationally acclaimed Sewanee Summer Music Festival combines a month-long program for advanced music students with a professional concert series.

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. 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 1,450 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.