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.

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.

Don’t Miss 5 Music Programs at Eastern

•The Eastern Concert Chorale performs to a packed house in the Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall

The Eastern Concert Chorale performs to a packed house in the Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall

Written by Jolene Potter

The Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will hold a variety of musical performances this November. The five upcoming concerts will include a unique faculty recital, two Eastern ensembles and two guest ensembles. All concerts will be held in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center.

On Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m., Okon Hwang, Eastern music professor and pianist, will collaborate with the S.O.Y. Piano Trio, as well as numerous Eastern students and faculty performers, visual artists, movement specialists and media designers to present pieces by various composers. Violinist Seulye Park and cellist Yun-Yang Lin will also perform in the multi-media concert.

On Nov. 5 at 3 p.m., the Willimantic Orchestra, a non-profit orchestra dedicated to the performance of authentic orchestral music, will present a concert. The ensemble will present “Symphony No. 5” by Beethoven, “Carnival Overture” by Antonin Dvorak and “Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach. The concert will feature Emily Ferguson on oboe and Barbara Vaughan on violin.

On Nov. 18 at 2:30 p.m., Classic Brass, a Connecticut-based British-style brass band, will present a concert. Classic Brass has been performing for Connecticut audiences since 1988.

On Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m., the Eastern Concert Chorale will present “Magnificently Mistaken.” The entertaining and informative concert will feature a variety of choral works. All works performed in the concert have been misattributed to composers and occasions or contain unintentional mistakes that are now accepted and even expected in modern performances. The Concert Chorale is a unique blend of Eastern students, faculty, alumni, local music educators, and community members.

On Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m., a Chamber Music Recital will be performed by Eastern students currently enrolled in the Chamber Music Repertoire course. Conducted by Music Professor Emily Riggs, this ensemble explores chamber music from the Baroque period to the present and is open to both vocalists and instrumentalist.

All Music Program concerts are free and open to the public. Donations will be graciously accepted at the door. View Online: http://easternct.meritpages.com/news/eastern-music-program-to-hold-5-november-concerts/1403

‘Thread City’ Takes the Stage

A Tale of Immigrants and Community Love

 

Written by Michael Rouleau

The ever-relevant topic of immigration was on dramatic display from Oct. 11-15 when Eastern Connecticut State University premiered “Thread City,” a unique performance that “told” stories of the immigrants who came to Willimantic to work in its historic thread mills. The dialogue-free play blended choreographed movement, visual projections and folky-electronic soundscapes to convey a heartfelt and historically representative tale of immigration in America.

In their 19th- and 20th-century heyday, Willimantic’s thread mills were among the largest producers of textiles in the world. They were major employers in northeastern Connecticut, drawing workers from New England and beyond. Willimantic became a hotbed of immigration. According to U.S. Census data, 29 percent of Windham residents were foreign born in 1910, with people from 26 different nations living in town.

“Thread City” opens with a stage that represents many different countries and eras. Multiple scenes that happen simultaneously fade in and out of action as a spotlight moves about the stage. As the setting shifts to a turbulent transcontinental boat ride, the performance space eventually comes to represent Willimantic exclusively – including its homes and the hazardous work environment of the mills.

Due to the multicultural theme of “Thread City,” it was important to the creators to devise a play that would transcend language. Using “moment work” – a theatrical technique in which individual moments are dissected and explored – actors conveyed the stories of immigrants without the use of words.

Several years of research and preparation went into “Thread City,” which involved visiting historical sites, researching testimonies of past residents and interviewing current Willimantic residents. Theatre Professors Kristen Morgan and Alycia Bright-Holland, co-creators of the production, traveled to Quebec and Puerto Rico – the origins of two of the largest ethnic groups to migrate to Willimantic – and led a class trip Ellis Island in New York City.

“Wandering through the beautifully curated exhibits at the Ellis Island museum inspired our students to create all sorts of new ‘moments’ when we returned to campus,” wrote Morgan and Bright-Holland, who led moment-work workshops and co-taught two upper-level theatre courses to prepare for “Thread City.”

Intimate scenes of the immigrant experience – from leaving heartbroken family members, to being inspected by immigration officers who bark orders in an unfamiliar tongue, to being reunited with family in their new home – were conveyed with precise gestures and emotion-filled facial expressions.

“The method of storytelling in ‘Thread City’ was an attempt at universal communication,” said student Matt Bessette ’19, the play’s dramaturge. “Its characters were direct portrayals of historical individuals of various backgrounds and time periods. The overall spectacle demonstrates the thematic elements of individuality and unity – the idea of being alone and yet, at the same time, together.”

 

While “Thread City” would not fall under the genre of “musical,” rhythm and soundscapes play a star role in advancing the story. “This project drove me to immerse myself in the folk music of the major immigrant groups of Willimantic,” said composer Travis Houldcroft, media specialist at Eastern. “I strove to develop music that fit the show but was also exemplary of my own style.”

Houldcroft’s compositions, which he performed live, were played on banjo and guitar, as well as a laptop, which he used to loop sounds and manipulate effects. “This allowed me to integrate elements of string instrumentation as well as experimental electronic effects into the score. This aesthetics bleeds into the design of the soundscape.”

Adding to the overall musicality of “Thread City,” the cast of more than 20 characters – who seem to share the stage for the bulk of the show – added to the soundscapes with rhythmic knee slaps, toe taps and choreographed, dance-like movement.

To make “Thread City” a reality, Morgan and Bright-Holland partnered with members of the Eastern campus, as well as residents of several local communities. Among them, representatives of the Windham Textile and History Museum helped describe what life was like for mill workers more than a century ago. Several staff and faculty from Eastern gave insights into their own immigrant experiences, connected the production team with valuable community members, and shared knowledge of various historic migrations.

Beyond entertainment and message, “Thread City” perhaps had a nobler cause: to further unite the local community. “With the privilege of having a beautiful building dedicated to the arts,” wrote Morgan and Bright-Holland, in reference to Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center, “comes the responsibility of serving the community with that space.

“We discussed the idea of a performance created specifically for Willimantic – not something simply ‘for’ the community, but something that would engage residents so that they might see themselves truly reflected and represented on stage.

“Today more than ever, we need that physical and emotional connection to one another,” they concluded. “Theatre has the power to transform, to heal, to activate and ultimately to create social and political change.”

 

‘The Life of Dawson Radlaw’ at Eastern

pheonix flyer

Written by Jordan Corey

The “Phoenix New Play Series” is an annual theatre program at Eastern Connecticut State University that takes a student-written work and adapts it into a student-directed, minimalist play. On Oct. 21, McKenzie Fayne’s “The Life of Dawson Radlaw” will be brought to life. The free production will show at 7:30 p.m. in the Del Monte Studio Theatre of the Fine Arts Instructional Center.

“Seeing my story taken from page to stage is a surreal and humbling feeling,” said Fayne ’18, who majors in communication and resides in Chaplin. The play will be brought to fruition by student director Onyae Randall ’19, who majors in theatre and resides in Milford, and her cast of nine student actors.

“I learned about ‘Phoenix’ my freshman year when I had the opportunity to act in a ‘Phoenix’ production,” Randall said. “That’s part of what sparked my interest in directing.” She noted that having Fayne stand in on some rehearsals brought “great feedback” and provided a unique opportunity for creative conversation. “There is a certain beauty to the amalgamation of this learning process for everyone. I think that is really what education is about.”

According to Fayne, “The Life of Dawson Radlaw” spotlights true love, loss and family as the audience follows the main character Dawson through scenes of his life at different points in time. “My hope is that the audience can feel the pain, as well as joy, that Dawson feels in each particular moment. Every experience, whether good or bad, shapes you into the person you are presently and that is something I also hope is taken away from this story.”

‘Thread City’ at Eastern Oct. 11-15

Written by Michael Rouleau

thread_city_flyer“Thread City,” the first Main Stage theatre production of the fall semester at Eastern Connecticut State University, will show from Oct. 11-15. The dialogue-free performance will convey – through actors’ movements – the stories of immigrants who came to Willimantic to work in its historic thread mills. All showings will occur in the Proscenium Theatre of the Fine Arts Instructional Center.

In their heyday, Willimantic’s thread mills were among the largest producers of textiles in the world. They were major employers in northeastern Connecticut, drawing workers from New England and beyond. Because of their economic dominance, Willimantic was an outlying hotbed of immigration in comparison to the surrounding area. More than a dozen languages were reportedly spoken in the mills in 19th and 20th centuries.

Due to the multicultural theme of “Thread City,” it was important to the creators to devise a play that would transcend language. Using “moment work” – a theatrical technique in which individual moments are dissected and explored – actors convey the stories of immigrants without the use of words. But the play is not silent, as soundscapes, music and multimedia projections accompany the actors.

Nearly three years of preparation went into “Thread City,” which involved visiting historical sites, researching testimonies of past residents and interviewing current Willimantic residents. The production was co-created by Theatre Professors Kristen Morgan and Alycia Bright Holland in collaboration with many members of the Eastern and Windham communities.

“We hope that the community will feel empowered by seeing their personal narrative celebrated,” said Morgan and Bright-Holland. “The message at the heart of the play is that immigrants are part of the bedrock of our community.

“This is different from other productions in that it is a devised work, which means that is not scripted, but conceived by an ensemble of collaborators,” they continued. “It’s also a community-based production, in that it was not just created for, but with the community.”

“Thread City” will be shown in the Proscenium Theatre of the Fine Arts Instructional Center at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Oct. 11), Friday (Oct. 13) and Saturday (Oct. 14); at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 12); at 11 a.m. Friday (Oct.13) and 4 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 15). For reservations, email theatreboxoffice@easternct.edu or call (860) 465-5123. To purchase tickets online, visit http://easternct.showare.com/threadcity/.

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About Eastern Connecticut State University

Eastern is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,400 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 20 other states and 29 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 65 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Eastern has been awarded “Green Campus” status by the Princeton Review seven years in a row. For more information, visit.

It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University to ensure equal access to its events. If you are an individual with a disability and will need accommodations for this event, please contact the Office of University Relations at (860) 465-5735.

Eastern to Hold 3 Concerts in October

Written by Jolene Potter

Concert Band

Concert Band

The Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will hold a number of musical performances in October. All concerts are open to the public and free of charge, and will be held in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center – donations will be gratefully accepted at the door.

On Oct. 13, the Wind Ensemble will present a concert featuring classics of the wind band repertoire. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. 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.

On Oct. 18, the Providence-based Ensemble/Parallax will perform selections of the ensemble’s extensive repertoire. The ensemble will also discuss performance techniques and the historical significance of the music presented with Eastern students, faculty, staff and local community members. The concert begins at 3 p.m.

On Oct. 25, the Concert Band will present a diverse selection of classics and lighter fare from the wind band repository. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Concert Band is a unique blend of more than eighty musicians comprised of Eastern students, faculty, alumni, local music educators and community members. Performance repertoire includes classic band literature as well as challenging works from contemporary composers.

 

Eastern Breaks Into List of Top 25 Public Regional Universities

Written by Ed Osborn

eastern_front_entranceFor the first time, Eastern Connecticut State University made the list of the top 25 regional public universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of “Best Colleges.” Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 12.

•Theatre students perform Cervantes' "Pedro, The Great Pretender," as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern's new Fine Arts Instructional Center

• Theatre students perform Cervantes’ “Pedro, The Great Pretender,” as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of 16 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

•Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono '17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

• Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono ’17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

“I am gratified to see Eastern ranked in the top 25 public institutions in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to high standards, our focus on providing students with personal attention, and the introduction of new academic programs have resulted in our favorable ranking. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,389 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 10.

For the past 33 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

Eastern to Host Public Dance Classes

DAD_flyer

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (08/23/2017) Dancers of all ages and levels are invited to visit Eastern Connecticut State University on Sept. 9 for a day of dance workshops led by Eastern faculty, alumni and current students. Dance Awareness Day will occur in the Fine Arts Instructional Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Class offerings will include hip-hop, modern, tap and jazz dancing, as well as classes for yoga/Pilates, technique and more.

Space is limited. Initial registration begins at 8:30 a.m., though participants can register up to 10 minutes before individual classes. Participants under the age of 18 must be registered by a parent or guardian. Prices for the general public are $5 per class or $15 for four classes. Dance Awareness Day is sponsored by the Modern Movement student club at Eastern. For more information, contact Modern Movement at modern@my.easternct.edu.