Eastern Music Program to Host 4 February Concerts

Eastern Makes “College Consensus” List of Top Colleges in Connecticut

Written by Ed Osborn

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/26/2018) College Consensus, a unique new college review aggregator, has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its ranking of “Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18.” Eastern was ranked in the top 10 schools in Connecticut, and was one of only two public institutions chosen, the University of Connecticut being the other.

To identify the Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18, College Consensus averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems, including U.S. News and World Report among others, along with thousands of student review scores, to produce a unique rating for each school. Read about the organization’s methodology at https://www.collegeconsensus.com/about.

“Congratulations on making the list of Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18,” said Carrie Sealey-Morris, managing editor of College Consensus. “Your inclusion in our ranking shows that your school has been recognized for excellence by both publishers on the outside and students and alumni on the inside.”

Part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, Eastern began its life in 1889 as a public normal school. Today the University is recognized as one of top 25 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News & World Report, and has been named one of the nation’s Green Colleges eight years in a row by the Princeton Review.

Eastern is Connecticut’s public liberal arts college, with a student body of 5,300 students; more than 90 percent of Eastern’s students are from Connecticut. Eastern’s size gives its students an uncommon degree of individualized attention, aided by a 15:1 student/faculty ratio and a strong commitment to student success.

In addition to a strong liberal art foundation, Eastern has many opportunities for students to engage in practical, hands-on learning, ranging from internships to study abroad, community service and undergraduate research. For instance, Eastern has sent more student researchers to the competitive National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the past four years than all the other public universities in Connecticut combined. In 2018, 41 of the 44 students from Connecticut who will present their research at the conference in April are from Eastern.

With its history, Eastern is also one of Connecticut’s foremost educators of teachers, and its professional studies and continuing education programs have made it an important institution for Connecticut’s working adults.

To see Eastern’s College Consensus profile, visit https://www.collegeconsensus.com/school/eastern-connecticut-state-university.

Eastern Jazz Ensemble Performs!

Jazz Ensemble

Jazz Ensemble

Written by Jolene Potter

Jazz music is in the air at Eastern Connecticut State University. Two concerts featuring student performers hit the main stage this December, including the Jazz Ensemble and 3 O’Clock Band, which performed on Dec. 1 and Dec. 4 respectively. Both concerts took place in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall.

Michael Della Valle ’19 of North Haven, who majors in Accounting, played bass in the Eastern Jazz Ensemble.

The Eastern Jazz Ensemble is composed of students who play traditional jazz instruments including saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, guitar and drums. The ensemble performs works from the standard and modern Big Band repertoire.

Conducted by Bryce Call, the ensemble performed several selections from Duke Ellington. Ellington, who called his music “American Music” rather than jazz, remains one of the most influential figures in jazz and is widely considered as one of the twentieth century’s best-known African American composers. The ensemble also performed selections from Benny Carter and Marty Paich, providing a unique and entertaining show.

The Jazz Ensemble came out strong with an opening performance of “C Jam Blues,” an Ellington staple written in 1942 that features several improvised solos. The ensemble also performed Benny Carter’s “Vine Street Rumble,” a traditional Big Band jazz piece with extensive solos for tenor saxophone and piano.

This traditional ensemble entertains Eastern students, faculty and community members with music from a wide variety of styles and eras in the jazz idiom. In addition to performing compositions from traditional and contemporary jazz composers, the ensemble also enjoys improvisation.

The 3 O’Clock Band is a variable-sized ensemble that provides the student with a small-group experience. Students play classic jazz tunes from a variety of eras, ranging from standards and bebop to recent jazz and rock. Similarly to the Jazz Ensemble, the 3 O’Clock Band values experience in improvisation, a staple in jazz music.

The 3 O’Clock Band was featured in the Dec. 4 concert that highlighted significant figures in the jazz idiom, as well as musical compositions seen as highly influencial in the progression of jazz improvisation from the mid 1940s to present day. Composers featured in the concert included Jaco Pastorius and Charlie Parker. Pastorius was bass player known primarily for his highly advanced techniques on the bass. Charlie Parker was one of the first to introduce Bebop to the world, as well as adding to the style of improvisation.

Among the performed pieces by the 3 O’Clock Band was Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child,” a timeless jazz piece that originated from an argument between Holiday and her mother.

Eastern Percussionists Perform!

Percussion Ensemble

Percussion Ensemble

Written by Jolene Potter

Talented percussionists at Eastern Connecticut State University recently entertained audiences that included Eastern students, faculty, staff and local community members at Eastern’s state-of-the-art Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall.

The concerts included performances by Eastern’s Percussion Ensemble, Percussion Group, World Percussion Ensemble, Korean Samul Ensemble and students in the Music Cultures of the World class.

The concerts, which were presented on Dec. 3 and 7, were comprised of diverse and entertaining musical selections that featured timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle and tambourine.

The Eastern Percussion Ensemble, Percussion Group and the World Percussion Ensemble presented a winter concert on Dec. 3. The ensembles performed a broad spectrum of musical styles from the original and transcribed works of the percussion and marimba ensemble repertoire. The Percussion Ensemble performs large ensemble works while the Percussion Group and World Percussion Ensemble perform smaller works and chamber repertoire.

Conducted by Jeff Calissi and Matt Bronson, the ensembles performed seven selections from a variety of composers and styles. The World Percussion Ensemble came out strong with an opening performance of “Samba Batucada,” a traditional parade music selection from Brazil that entertained the audience with synchronized musical phrases and choreographed movements.

The Eastern Percussion Group performed “Triskaidekaphobia” by Josh Gottry. The title of the piece is the term for a phobia of the number 13. Despite the perceived triviality of that phobia, the composer noted how there is often no labeled 13th row on most airplanes or 13th floor in many hotels in order to make people feel more comfortable. The song is a tribute to those who cast off unusual fears and superstitions. The unique song provides an exciting and energetic look at the number 13, featuring 13 instruments and 13 pulses in every pair of measures.

The Eastern Percussion Ensemble performed “Three Brothers,” a very early contribution to chamber music for percussionists composed in 1954. Written for snare drum, bongos and timpani, the three instruments serve as “brothers” throughout the piece. The ensemble also performed “Peril of the Bells” by Rick Dior, a take on the Christmas song “Carol of the Bells.” The arrangement included aspects of African and Brazilian drumming, as well as extensive mallet percussion parts. The beautiful rendition used a wide range of ethnic percussion intstruments such as congas, bongos and djembe, a West African skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands.

The Dec. 7 concert featured performances by the the Korean Samul Ensemble, World Percussion Ensemble and students from the Music Cultures of the World Class. The concert showcased a variety of different cultures merged musically in order to provide a unique and entertaining show.

The Korean Samul Ensemble performed a traditional Korean piece of the Samul nori genre titled “Beonyeok!” that was originally designed to entertain villagers in a agricultural community on holidays or other celebratory events.

The World Percussion Ensemble performed “Guaguanco,” a rhythm derived from a traditional Cuban rhumba. The piece included conga drums and different patterns and tones to create an interlocking melody throughout the ensemble. The ensemble also performed “Rhythm Chant 2 + 10,” a piece for a variety of traditional ethnic instruments from around the world. The piece provided the audience with an ambient and relaxing soundscape of different cultures.

Students in the Music Cultures of the World class also performed at the Dec. 7 concert. With many of these performers having no prior playing experience, their performance of “Small Disturbances” by Mitchell Mollison demonstrated the immense amount of skill they acquired during the fall 2017 semester course. The piece uses two similar pitches played together to create small disturbances to the sound, like ripples in a pond.

Percussion studies at Eastern provide the opportunity to explore all facets of percussion performance and education. Students are provided with a variety of enriching musical opportunities regardless of major.

‘Sounds of the Season’ at Eastern

Concert Band

Concert Band

Written by Jolene Potter

Talented musicians of the Eastern Wind Ensemble and Eastern Concert Band presented a joint winter concert designed to capture the beauty of the winter season on Dec. 6 in Eastern’s Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall.

Conducted by Kelly Watkins, adjunct professor of music, both the Wind Ensemble and Concert Band presented four selections at the combined concert.

The Eastern Wind Ensemble is the newest instrumental ensemble at Eastern and is designed to provide students with a unique, student-centric instrumental playing experience. Wind Ensemble is open to any student at Eastern who plays a woodwind/ brass or percussion instrument with previous playing experience. This ensemble performs music from the wind ensemble and chamber winds repertoire as well as more contemporary works.

Wind Ensemble

Wind Ensemble

The Wind Ensemble opened the show with Shelley Hanson’s “Patapan” (or “Pat-a-pan”) a French Christmas carol about the birth of Jesus Christ. The piece is told from the perspective of shepherds playing flutes and drums which are meant to mimic the sound of a drum. This rhythmic piece brought energy to the start of the concert.

The ensemble also performed the bright and classic “Bugler’s Holiday” by Leroy Anderson, one of the most famous trios for trumpet ever written. Despite being originally scored for a trumpet trio and orchestra, it has been performed by groups of nearly every instrument imaginable.

Eastern Concert Band is a unique blend of over eighty musicians comprised of Eastern Connecticut State University students, faculty, alumni, local music educators, and talented musicians from the greater Eastern Connecticut area. Performance repertoire includes classic band literature as well as challenging works from contemporary composers.

The Concert Band opened their portion of the show with a rich and energetic rendition of “Festive Fanfare for the Holidays” by James Curnow. This piece was based on the carol “Joy to the World” and brought added energy and joy to the holiday-themed program.

The ensemble also wowed the audience with their performance “Silent Night in Gotham” by Franz Gruber, a unique and colorful version of the classic “Silent Night.”

The Music Program presents a full season of concerts and recitals designed to entertain audience members to a diversity of styles and eras.

Eastern to Present 6 Music Concerts

Concert band for blog Written by Jolene Potter

The Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will present six concerts in the month of December. Concerts will range from student-only instrumental ensembles to seasonally themed collaborations with alumni musicians and community members. The performances are free and open to the public and will take place in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. Donations will be gratefully accepted at the door.

“These performances highlight the variety of music study occurring on our campus every day – in our studios, practice rooms and rehearsal halls,” said Emily Riggs, professor and chair of the Music Program. “From opera to global percussion, whatever your interests, you are certain to find something on our calendar that excites you!”

On Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m., the Eastern Jazz Ensemble will perform a variety of big band music featuring student soloists. The Eastern Jazz Ensemble is composed of students who play traditional jazz band instruments, including saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, guitar and drums. The traditional big band plays music from a wide variety of styles and eras in the jazz idiom, focusing on traditional jazz composers, but also contemporary composers as well.

On Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m., Music Program alumni, faculty and current students will present a fully staged and costumed production of the holiday classic “Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors.” The 50-minute production will capture the child-like excitement and mystery of the winter season and is perfect for children and families.

On Dec. 3 at 2:30 p.m., the Eastern Percussion Ensembles will present a collection of works from the percussion and marimba ensemble repertoire. The concert will feature the Eastern Percussion Ensemble, Percussion Group and World Percussion Ensemble, and will feature a broad spectrum of musical styles.

On Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m., the Jazz Combo “3 O’Clock Band” will present a concert of classic jazz tunes from a variety of eras, ranging from standards and bebop to jazz and rock. The ensemble provides students with a small-group experience with an emphasis on improvisation.

On Dec. 6. at 7:30 p.m., join the Eastern Concert Band and Wind Ensemble in celebrating the “Sounds of the Season” in a joint concert perfect for children and families. Eastern Concert Band is a unique blend of more than 80 musicians consisting of Eastern students, faculty, alumni, local music educators and talented community members. The ensemble performs classic band pieces as well as works from contemporary composers. The smaller Eastern Wind Ensemble is a student wind ensemble that performs music from the wind ensemble and chamber winds repertoire as well as more contemporary works.

On Dec. 7, audience members will enjoy the World Percussion Ensemble in experiencing the rich history of drumming in Korea, India, West Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. This event is perfect for children and families! The World Percussion Ensemble is a unique opportunity for instrumentalists to perform exclusively on percussion instruments in a chamber setting.

Magnificently Mistaken at Eastern

•The ensemble rehearses for "Magnificently Mistaken

• The ensemble rehearses for “Magnificently Mistaken

Written by Michael Rouleau

The Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers at Eastern Connecticut State University will perform their premier concert of the fall semester, “Magnificently Mistaken,” on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. Conducted by David Belles and Sarah Kaufold, the three-part performance features musical compositions that are cloaked in mystery; with misleading twists and mistakenly developed histories. Admission to the concert is free.

“An aspect of singing is the opportunity to explore the manner in which our voices respond to other voices and across physical space,” wrote the conductors. “Featuring poly-choral pieces and ambient sounds, we have the opportunity to discover how some mistakes in music can be simply magnificent.”

Part one features pieces that are focused on the concept of “home.” Among them are “I’m Going Home,” selected from the Sacred Harp (1844), followed by “Kodutee,” which speaks of bridging the gap between life and death. “Yonder Come Day” closes part one with several traditional tunes that signify the “ultimate destination and resting place.”

MagnificentlyMistaken_flyerThe second part of the concert opens with “Tres Cantos Nativos Dos Indios Kraó,” a composition of freely based melodies sung by the Kraó tribe of the Amazon forest of northwestern Brazil. The sounds of a virtual rainforest enhance the three short melodies – which happen to have unknown meanings.

Another piece, Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere Mei, Deus,” was developed over the ages through a series of mistakes. Once considered a favorite of the Vatican, the pope forbade anyone from transcribing it. In the 1830s the pope was defied by a composer who mistakenly transcribed it at a much higher pitch, then subsequently printed it in the New Grove Dictionary. “The result was a melding of the original version with a passage of high notes, creating the most famous and moving passage of the song,” wrote the conductors.

The concert closes with a collection of choral movements by Mozart ripe with historical confusions. Three were written for historic mass ceremonies. Revolving around the selections is a “spirited controversy as to how they fit into the canon in terms of form and function.”

Chamber Singers is Eastern’s premier vocal ensemble and consists of 20-25 auditioned singers. Repertoire performed by Eastern Chamber Singers encompasses chamber music from more than four centuries.

The Eastern Concert Chorale is the largest vocal ensemble at Eastern and focuses on choral and orchestral masterworks, as well as shorter choral selections. The Music Program at Eastern supports a variety of musical ensembles, small and large, classical and non-classical. Eastern’s ensembles are open to all students, regardless of major, symbolizing the liberal arts mission of Eastern.

Collaborative Multimedia Performance at Eastern

SOY dancersWritten by Jolene Potter

Music, visual art and dance came together on Nov. 3 for a unique multimedia performance at Eastern Connecticut State University. This multimedia event involved extensive collaboration between Eastern faculty and students to provide audience members with an exceptional sensory-engaging experience. The “S.O.Y. Piano Trio Multi-Media Concert” was held in Eastern’s state-of-the art Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall.

The talented S.O.Y. Piano Trio, composed of violinist Seulye Park, pianist Okon Hwang and cellist Yun-Yang Lin, worked with visual artist Afarin Rahmanifar, movement specialist Alycia Bright-Holland, and media designers Kristen Morgan and Travis Houldcroft to present pieces by Cornicello, Rocherolle and Piazzolla.

Multimedia productions enrich music performance through a combination of different forms of expression such as audio, text, imagery, video and interactive content. The concert illustrated the artistic shift away from music as a product to music as one element of a multimedia art form.

SOY musiciansThe show opened with Anthony Cornicello’s “Towards,” performed by the S.O.Y. Piano Trio and accompanied by audio and video interaction and media design. Cornicello is a professor of music theory, composition and electronic music at Eastern. His music is vibrant and visceral, full of rhythmic energy and harmonic sophistication. “Towards” illustrates how live electronics have led to exciting combinations of instruments and processed sound.

Performers also presented six original compositions by Eugénie Rocherolle written for piano, violin and cello. The beautiful collection of flowing pieces show Rocherolle’s warm compositional style. The performance involved the collaboration of the S.O.Y. Piano Trio, movement specialist and Eastern professor Alycia Bright-Holland and Eastern dance group Modern Movement. Bright-Holland is a professor of performance arts with a particular focus on acting and movement.

The performance also led audience members on a journey throughout the four seasons with one of Astor Piazzolla’s most popular works “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aries.” The musical transitions from summer to autumn, winter and spring presented by the S.O.Y. Piano Trio were accompanied by the striking and expressive artwork of Afarin Rahmanifar, professor of painting and drawing at Eastern. The music and artwork provided concert-goers with an audio and visual sensory experience of the seasons, capturing the beauty of this famous work.

Eastern Students Sing to Teach

Written by Ed Osborn

singing logoMore than 100 singers, including eight from Eastern Connecticut State University, will participate in this year’s student auditions of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Connecticut Chapter on Nov. 5 at the University of Connecticut.

Singers in eight categories will perform and receive written feedback as part of NATS’s longstanding tradition. NATS student auditions have been an integral part of the association, allowing singers to receive important evaluation and teachers the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with colleagues and hear a variety of musical styles through live performance.

Eastern students taking part in this year’s day of singing and workshops include Michael Beckstein ’18, baritone; Hannah Bythrow ’18, soprano; Halie Poirier ’18, soprano; Tiara Lussier ’19, soprano; Ryan Michaud ’19, baritone; Jordan Pollard ’19, tenor; Austin Stone ’19, tenor; and Sara Vega ’19, soprano. The eight singers are students of Emily Riggs, associate professor of music at Eastern and president of the Connecticut Chapter of NATS.

Performances at this year’s Connecticut Chapter Student Auditions begin at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with the announcement of results. Advanced category auditions are open to the public and will run from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Admission is free. Prize money is offered to the top students from each category. All students who place or receive top honorable mention will be invited to perform in an awards recital on Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Western Connecticut State University.

A singer must be a student of a current NATS member in order to participate in NATS student auditions. The singer’s participation category is determined by a variety of factors, including musical style, the amount of time they have studied voice, age and year in school. More than 80 NATS chapters hold NATS student auditions each year from the organization’s 14 regions. Top performers have an opportunity to advance to the national round of auditions. To learn more about NATS Student Auditions, visit http://www.nats.org/national_student_auditions.html.

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Ensemble Shines at Eastern

Ensemble conductor FaceWritten by Jordan Corey

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Providence-based new music and multimedia consort Ensemble / Parallax brought its avant-garde flavor to Eastern Connecticut State University last week as part of the school’s “University Hour” series. Conducted by Peyman Farzinpour, the award-winning instrumental group performed on Oct. 18 in the concert hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center, with five musicians in attendance — Orlando Cela (flute), Lisa Goddard (violin), Yoko Hagino (piano), Kevin Price (clarinet) and Nara Shahbazyan (cello).

Ensemble conductor 1The ensemble opened with Arnold Schoenberg’s “The Chamber Symphony No. 1,” a piece that quickly picks up pace and showcases a scattered collection of sounds. Making its premier in 1907, the composition highlights “the point at which harmony begins to break down,” according to Farzinpour. It set the stage for 12-tone and atonal pieces in years to come, known for its intricate and specific essence.

This proved to be the perfect gateway into Ensemble / Parallax’s feature performance, a rendition of Enno Poppe’s “Gelöschte Lieder.” Before playing, Farzinpour and each musician discussed some of the piece’s defining elements and how its varying components work as a whole. Inherently complex, it experiments with different pitches and tones. “It pushes the envelope in terms of what Poppe’s asked the musicians to do,” Farzinpour said.

To better show the contrasting instrumental parts that make up the entire piece, the group addressed sections individually before coming together for the final product. Shahbazyan, for instance, touched on the particular hand positioning needed to play her part, which was written in treble clef, a relatively uncommon occurrence for cello. Continually, Hagino commented that while she does not have any special piano techniques, she has to mindfully keep rhythm with the rest of the ensemble, despite having what seems like such an isolated part.

Farzinpour led into “Gelöschte Lieder” by telling the audience, “Some of you might be thinking, ‘What melody? What are you talking about?’” but nonetheless assured them that, complete with its tempo and volume changes, lulls and clutters and scattered instrumental bits, it serves as a noteworthy constituent of musical history. Consequently, the piece has become an integral part of Ensemble / Parallax’s mission to create a platform for living composers and visual artists, specifically to be heard and seen in collaboration with one another.