Cutting Edge Hip-Hop Theater Piece Dreamscape Hits Amherst College March 2 and 3

February 9, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee will sponsor the powerful hip-hop theater production Dreamscape on Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at 8 p.m. in Kirby Theater at Amherst College as part of its ongoing celebration of the birth of the civil rights activist. Written by innovative playwright Rickerby Hinds and directed by Manu Mukasa, an assistant professor of theater and dance at Amherst, the one-woman show brings together acting, dance, DJing and verse to tell a story based on the 1998 shooting of a 19-year-old African-American woman, Tyisha Miller, at the hands of four California police officers. The show is free and open to the public, and no reservations are necessary.

The plot of Dreamscape contrasts the innocence of a character called Myeisha Mills, a Southern California teenager, with the brutal details of her death, while exploring the timely issue of institutionalized racism in the United States.The show uses an intense inner monologue form to tell its story, while drawing on the language of the blossoming hip-hop theater genre, whose diverse media styles uniquely grounded in hip hop minority culture suit it to such a performance. Hip-hop theater grew out of the efforts of various professional theater artists who translated their early experiences with hip-hop music into a formal theatrical setting. The genre often mixes traditional hip-hop styles such as b-boying (breakdancing) and MCing (rapping/singing) with traditional verse. Hip-hop theater is often compared to Shakespearean verse plays.

Dreamscape will introduce hip-hop theater to Western Massachusetts with Mukasa’s production on Friday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, Feb. 17, at Open Square in Holyoke, Mass., and from Friday, Feb. 23 through Monday, Feb. 26, at the Fuller Arts Center at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., before concluding with the two performances at Amherst College. For more information about the Amherst performances, call the Theater and Dance Department at 413/542-2411.

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Writer Olga Grushin to Read at Amherst College Feb. 19

February 9, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Russian and American writer Olga Grushin will read from her fiction at 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 19, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Creative Writing Center at Amherst, the reading is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

A citizen of Russia and the United States, Olga Grushin was born in Moscow and spent her early childhood in Prague. She studied art history at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and journalism at Moscow State University. Grushin later received a full scholarship to Emory University, and became the first Russian citizen to enroll in and complete a four-year American college program, graduating summa cum laude in 1993.

Since coming to the United States, she has been an interpreter for President Jimmy Carter, a cocktail waitress in a jazz bar, a translator at the World Bank, a research analyst at a Washington law firm and an editor at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Her short fiction has appeared in Partisan Review, The Massachusetts Review, Confrontation and Art Times. The Dream Life of Sukhanov (2006), her first novel—written in English, her third language—was praised by The New York Times as “ironic, surreal, sometimes stunning” and “Gogolesque in its sardonic humor.” Grushin is now at work on her second novel.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center sponsors a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. For more information, please call 413/542-8200.

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Carol Solomon Kiefer to Speak on "Through British Eyes: British Art at the Mead Art Museum" at Amherst College Feb. 23

February 5, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.— Carol Solomon Kiefer, curator of European art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, will give a gallery talk about the exhibit “Through British Eyes: British Art at the Mead” at 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23, in the Fairchild Gallery at the museum. Her talk is free and open to the public.

Works by British artists from the 17th century to the present are featured in “Through British Eyes” on view at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College until Aug. 26. Drawn exclusively from the Mead’s permanent collection, the works in this exhibition reflect the breadth and depth of the museum’s British holdings, one of the strengths of its European collection. From the stately 17th-century decorative paneled interior permanently installed in the Rotherwas Room in the Mead to the contemporary drawings of the environmental sculptor David Nash, the exhibition showcases a variety of media, including paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, photographs and decorative arts.

Lord Jeffery Amherst is represented in portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. Other distinguished masters of this essential British genre include George Beare, Francis Cotes, John Hoppner, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Allan Ramsay, Sir Henry Raeburn and Richard Wilson. In addition to portraiture, the exhibition presents historical and literary subjects, Romantic landscape paintings and works exemplifying the British watercolor tradition. This roster of artists includes Thomas Barker of Bath, David Cox, Thomas Francis Dicksee, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, Edward Lear, Charles Robert Leslie, John Linnell, John Martin, George Morland, James Sant and John Varley.

Outstanding examples of 18th- and 19th-century mezzotints by James Watson, Valentine Green and David Lucas after Constable; satirical engravings and etchings by William Hogarth, James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson; and Blake’s celebrated illustrations of the Book of Job are among the rich variety of prints on display. (Due to the length of the show, works on paper will be shown in rotating selections.)

Among the 20th-century artists represented are Bill Brandt, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney and Henry Moore.

In a related event, Reynolds’s “Portrait of Sir Jeffery Amherst” will be the focus of a lecture titled “Jeffery Amherst and the American Way of War” by Kevin Sweeney, professor of history and American studies at Amherst College, at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 30, in the Fairchild Gallery.

The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 9 p.m. More information is available on the museum’s Website or by calling the Mead Art Museum at 413/542-2335. All events are free and open to the public.

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Philosopher Isabelle Peretz To Speak on “The Nature of Music from a Biological Perspective” at Amherst College Feb. 22

February 5, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Isabelle Peretz, professor of psychology at the Université de Montréal, will give a talk on “The Nature of Music from a Biological Perspective” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, in Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Organized by the Amherst College Department of Philosophy and funded by the Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science, Peretz’s talk is free and open to the public.

A professor of psychology and director of the Laboratory of Neuropsychology of Music and of Auditory Cognition at the University of Montreal, Peretz studies the biological sources and neural aptitudes involved in the individual’s perception of music. She is co-director of the Centre for Brain, Music and Sound(BRAMS), a research and teaching center at the University of Montreal and McGill University devoted to the neuroscience of auditory cognition. She has co-authored two books on the subject of musical cognition, The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music (2003) and The Biological Foundations of Music (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, V. 930, 2001). The former is one of the first books to explore the neural processes involved in music. Peretz is respected for breaking new ground in this growing field.

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World-Renowned Pianist Marilyn Nonken To Present a Concert on “Philosophy in Music” at Amherst College Feb. 23

February 5, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Marilyn Nonken, celebrated concert pianist and director of piano studies at the Steinhardt School of New York University, will perform a concert titled “Philosophy in Music” at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23, in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Center at Amherst College. Organized by the Amherst College Departments of Philosophy and Music and funded by the Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science, the concert is free and open to the public.

The concert will consist of six pieces by various artists and inspired by philosophy. Along with John Cage’s famous 4’33,” Nonken will perform works by Charles Ives, Michael Finnissy and Pascal Dusapin, and a piece written by Richard Beaudoin especially for this concert. Beaudoin is a visiting assistant professor of music at Amherst College.

An accomplished solo chamber pianist, Nonken is considered one of the most talented young musicians dedicated to modern and contemporary repertoires. She debuted in 1993 in New York to overwhelming praise, and has been recognized as “a pianist from music’s leading edge” (The New York Times), and “one of the greatest interpreters of new music” (American Record Guide), time-and-again receiving “Best of the Year” distinctions from the nation’s most prominent music critics (Boston Globe, 1997-2002, Washington Post, 2005). She has been presented by Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institute, the Theâtre Bouffe du Nord and at concert halls in the U.S., France, Australia, Italy, Denmark and around the world. Prominent composers who have written for her include Milton Babbitt, Mario Davidovsky, Michael Finnissy and David Rakowski. Nonken plays with Ensemble 21 (the New Music group for which she is artistic director and co-founder), the Group for Contemporary Music and Elison (Sydney).

Nonken studied with David Burge at the Eastman School, and received her Ph.D. degree in musicology from Columbia University. She has been published in Perspectives of New Music, Agni, Current Musicology and the Journal of the Institute for Studies in American Music. She also guest edited “Performers on Performance,” a special issue of Contemporary Music Review.

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“Six String Showdown” of Guitar Music at Amherst College Feb. 17

February 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Pioneer Valley jazz guitarists will perform with students from the Amherst College Jazz Combo program, then join together in various combinations for a showdown at 8 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2007 in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Building at Amherst College. The concert is a benefit for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts; tickets are $5 ($3 with a donation of a canned good) and $3 for students and seniors (free with a donation). More information is available at the Jazz@Amherst website.

The Guitar Summit will feature the Amherst College Jazz Combos; guitarists Mark Applegate, Joe Belmont, Freddie Bryant (Amherst ’87), Bob Ferrier, Joe LaCreta and Adam Larrabee; bassist Genevieve Rose and drummer Scott Drewes.

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Former Amherst College President Calvin H. Plimpton ’39 Dies at 88

February 1, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Dr. Calvin Hastings Plimpton, a 1939 graduate of Amherst College who served as its president in the tumultuous decade from 1960 to 1971, and as president of the American University in Beirut in the war-torn years between 1984 and 1987, has died at age 88. He died at his home in Westwood, Mass., of complications after surgery following a fall. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Ruth (Talbot) Plimpton; children David of Brooklyn, N.Y., Polly of Boston, Mass., Tom of Leverett, Mass. and Edward of Amherst, Mass. and seven grandchildren. There will be a memorial service at Amherst College later in the spring.

Anthony W. Marx, the current Amherst president, said “I have the honor of following in Cal’s footsteps, and had the great pleasure of meeting him and discussing the college and all that he had accomplished here. He was a leader of whom Amherst could not be more proud.”

“If you’re crazy enough to be a college president,” said Plimpton—noted for his ironic wit—to American College of Physicians Observer in 1985, “the 1960s was the time to be it. I was personally responsible for the bombing of children in Birmingham, for napalm, Agent Orange, Vietnam, Cambodia, and finally, I was responsible for the Kent State murders. That’s a lot of sins to have on you.”

In the course of a long, distinguished career, Plimpton piloted three institutions of higher learning through turbulent times and played a pivotal role in directing many others. He was trained, as a physician, and the first inkling of what he sometimes referred to as his “itchy feet” occurred when he took a leave from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons to be chairman of the department of medicine at the American University of Beirut from 1957 to 1959. He believed that a “doctor tries to educate people to live,” and so it was a logical step to become the 13th president of Amherst College, a position he held from 1960 to 1971.

In his opening address to the college in September 1960, he charged the students, faculty and guests to “Ask not what Amherst College can do for you, ask what you can do for Amherst College.” Four months later, he was startled to hear President Kennedy use the same turn of phrase in his inaugural address to the nation. When Kennedy came to Amherst for the ground breaking of the Robert Frost Library on October 22, 1963, he asked Kennedy where he had gotten the phrase. Kennedy replied “I don’t know, Cal. Where did you get it?”

While at Amherst College, there had been talk among the neighboring four college presidents of jointly founding a fifth, more experimental college. The plans languished until Plimpton convinced Harold Johnson to donate the initial funding of $6 million and Hampshire College was born.

In 1971, Plimpton returned to New York, where he was president of Downstate Medical School until 1978 and a professor of medicine there until 1983. He then spent a year at the National Library of Medicine, working in international affairs.
Plimpton was a member of the board of trustees of the American University of Beirut for 23 years, becoming chairman in 1965. After the then president of the University, Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated outside his campus office in 1984, Plimpton agreed to take over as president. His three years in the position were marked by escalating insecurity and the kidnapping of professors and other Americans. In an attempt to bring stability to the situation, he journeyed to Amman, Jordan to meet with Yasser Arafat. The meeting occurred on Arafat’s turf, and in the middle of the meeting, Plimpton, ever on the lookout to interject a bit of humor, turned to Arafat and inquired in broken Arabic if there were any thoughts of kidnapping him – to which Arafat replied, with a sly grin, “No, college presidents don’t command any ransom.” In retelling the story, Plimpton noted that clearly Arafat had done his homework.

In addition to the American University of Beirut, Plimpton was a trustee of the World Peace Foundation (1961-1977), director of the Commonwealth Fund (1962-1984), a trustee of the University of Massachusetts (1962-1969), a trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy (1965-1975), an overseer of Harvard University (1969-1975), a trustee of Long Island University (1972-1980) and a trustee of New York Law School (1976-1984).

Plimpton was born in Boston and grew up in Walpole, just outside the city. He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Amherst College (class of 1939) and Harvard Medical School, (class of 1943.) He served in Central Europe with the 5th Auxiliary Surgical Group during World War II. He returned to Harvard and received a masters of science degree in biochemistry in 1947. He also received a doctorate of medical science from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1952.

During his presidency at Amherst, the college introduced a new curriculum, raised $21 million in a capital campaign and built major campus buildings, including the Arms Music Center and Merrill Science Center. A memorable architectural legacy of the Plimpton years is the Robert Frost Library, named for the poet and dedicated in October 1963 by President John F. Kennedy in one of his last public appearances. In his remarks at the event, Plimpton told the large crowd they were present at “the birth of memory,” a prediction made poignant when Kennedy was killed four weeks later. Plimpton also called on Amherst to embrace its tradition in “the liberating arts.” “If we wanted to claim one distinction, and only one, for Amherst College and its liberal arts—the one in which we can take the greatest pride—it would be the disproportionately large number of Amherst men who have entered into a life of service—either to individuals or the public.” These words also describe the career of Calvin H. Plimpton, educator and physician.

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