News & Music Events 2016-2017

February 2017

Fri, Feb 3, 2017

Thesis poster showing Ruescher and Sandel standing in Buckley Recital Hall

Senior Music Performance Theses by Jamie Sandel '17 and Rebecca Ruescher '17

The Amherst College Department of Music presents the senior theses of Jamie Sandel '17 and Rebecca Ruescher '17. "we all play," a suite of instrumental music composed by Sandel, is first on the program, followed by nine a cappella works conducted by Ruescher. The performance takes place on Friday, Feb. 3, at 8 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Center at Amherst College. The concert is free and open to the public; seating is by general admission.

Sandel presents his composition "we all play," depicting a lived journey through illness and death. That journey is told through five interconnected movements, based on moments in his father’s life, that focus at times on joy, nostalgia, isolation, pain and release. The suite is written for a jazz quintet alongside a chamber sextet of bowed strings and winds; the two ensembles play together, interweaving carefully scored material and improvisation. The compositions are written using a diverse musical palette grounded in jazz genres such as post-bop, fusion, blues and modal jazz, but also incorporate elements of Romanticism, modern classical and Brazilian samba.

The jazz quintet is fronted by Sandel on electric violin, and features Valley-area professional musicians Eugene Uman, Fumi Tomita and Jon Fisher, as well as Nashville guitarist Mike Baggetta. The chamber sextet includes Amherst College students Zach Yanes '17, Eliot Kuan '18, MacKenzie Kugel '19, Christina Hansen '17 and Sam Short ’17, as well as Smith student Megan Mendenhall.

Ruescher then directs the choral concert portion of this two-part thesis, showcasing an eclectic collection of nine a cappella works composed over the past two centuries in six different languages. This second portion of the program features standards from the classical and romantic era, modern pieces by contemporary composers, and traditional folk songs. Ruescher directs and conducts this concert as an ambitious finale to her undergraduate music major. Ruescher’s senior project is performed by 17 Amherst College singers. Though they are a small group, they are certain to make a big sound and a powerful impact on listeners.

Please come share an evening of supremely beautiful music to warm you up on a frosty February night. The concert will be followed by light refreshments.

For a complete listing of upcoming Amherst College Department of Music events, visit us on the web:

Fri, Feb 10, 2017

M@A Master Class: Chiara String Quartet

Visiting artists work with Amherst student musicians. Free and open to the public. Don't play a string instrument? Come and be surprised how much you can learn about art, music and performance!

Sat, Feb 11, 2017

The Chiara String Quartet posing in front of a wall and holding their instruments

M@A Chamber Series: Chiara String Quartet

Renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire as well as for creating insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara String Quartet captivates its audiences throughout the country.

“Like aural three-dimensional chess, each player seems to be aware of what the other three—and the music—are doing at all times.” –Strings Magazine

Britten Three Divertimenti
Schubert String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, Op. 29
Beethoven String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130 with Grande Fugue, Op. 133

SUBSCRIBE to the M@A Series to receive:
➨ The best seats at the best prices
➨ Priority reservation privileges for additional tickets to individual concerts
➨ A guaranteed seat, even when the “Sold Out” sign goes up
➨ Personalized service and ticket insurance

Single ticket events go on sale two weeks before each performance:
Chamber Series:
General Public: $28 Senior Citizens (65+) and Amherst College Employees: $22 Students, with valid ID: $12. Free Amherst student rush signup available in the Arms Building lobby an hour before showtime.

Tickets are nonrefundable, and programs and dates are subject to change. Buckley Recital Hall has limited wheelchair-accessible seating.

For further information, please contact the Concert Office at (413) 542-2195 or

A complete list of upcoming events can be found on the Amherst College Music Department website at

Tickets Required

Fri, Feb 17, 2017

Talk by Ryan Dohoney “Julius Eastman: An End to Downtown”

5pm, room 3
Talk by Ryan Dohoney (Northwestern University)
“Julius Eastman: An End to Downtown”

Sat, Feb 18, 2017

The Music of Julius Eastman and TJ Anderson: Concert and Discussion

8pm, room 7
The Music of Julius Eastman and TJ Anderson, concert and discussion
With Daniel Langa ’18 and professors John McDonald, Eric Sawyer, Ryan Dohoney (Northwestern University), and others.

Mon, Feb 20, 2017

Black-and-white event poster

Lecture and Demonstration by Professor John McDonald: "Stirring Up the Music: The Life and Works of Composer T.J. Anderson"

4:30 pm Frost Library, Center for Humanistic Inquiry

Amherst College's 2016-2017 Valentine Visiting Professor of Music, John McDonald, presents a talk on his in-progress biography project on the composer T.J. Anderson.

Complete with musical performances sounding out Anderson's recent works from the piano, pianist, composer and scholar McDonald's presentation contextualizes Anderson's career highlights and achievements from the point of view of a composer and performer, musical collaborator and chronicler. McDonald partitions and analyzes Anderson's work and influence in five chronological phases.

Thu, Feb 23, 2017

Collective Improvisation in Sound, with Vic Rawlings

Collective Improvisation in Sound with Vic Rawlings

Develop your listening skills and appreciation of sound - absolutely no musical background is required.
Any means to produce sound will be welcomed, including common objects, all common musical instruments, and voice. We will use structured exercises to explore music and sound improvisation in a group context. We will work beyond standard conceptions of rhythm and melody, beginning with the fundamentals of sound and time. A limited number of objects will be available for student use.

All are welcome to attend, including musicians at any technical level, as well as people who do not consider themselves musicians. The session will be accessible and challenging for all participants. You are welcome if you have no experience improvising. You are welcome if you have experience improvising.

Please be prompt. It is not possible to join the group once the workshop has begun at 4 p.m. The room will be available at 3:30.
If you plan to use amplification you must bring your own equipment.

The workshop will be led by Vic Rawlings.

Vic Rawlings is a musician, instrument builder, sound installation artist, filmmaker and freelance teacher based in western Massachusetts. Collaborators have included Ikue Mori, Greg Kelley, Bhob Rainey, Seijiro Murayama, Jake Meginsky, Sean Meehan and Jason Lescalleet. Visiting artist/teaching residencies have included Oberlin Conservatory, MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Princeton, Dartmouth and Wesleyan, as well as homeless shelters and correctional facilities. He has performed throughout North America and Europe at venues including The Stone, Jordan Hall, The Gardner Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and countless galleries and series. Festival appearances include Victoriaville (Quebec), Musique Action (France) and Vision (NYC). Labels include Grob, RRR, Sedimental, Absurd, Emanem, Boxmedia, Audio Dispatch, H+H, Chloe, and Rykodisc. He has performed works by John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Cornelius Cardew, and has worked directly with 20th and 21st century composers Alvin Lucier, Michael Pisaro and Christian Wolff.

"Vic Rawlings plays prepared cello and open circuit electronics in the form of an instrument self-made from exposed circuit boards and speaker cones...the sense of danger, the awareness that the music is poised permanently on the edge of disintegration and collapse. Despite its refusal to make the slightest concession to the listener, the music draws you in and doesn’t let you go."
-The Wire

For more information, contact Professor Jason Robinson,

Sat, Feb 25, 2017

Amherst College Jazz Ensemble: McBride Festival

World premiere of “Two Weeks from Everywhere” by Chris Merz. Additional music by Bob Curnow, Sonny Rollins and Either Orchestra.

The second half of concert features Chris Merz Quartet: Chris on saxophones, Jeff Holmes on piano, John Nuhn on bass and Jon Mele on drums.

The Amherst College Jazz Ensemble performs in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Building. The concert is free and open to the public.

Mon, Feb 27, 2017

Talk by Dr. Alisha Jones

New Perspectives in American Music: “You Are My Dwelling Place”, a Talk by Dr. Alisha Jones

4:30 am Frost Library, Center for Humanistic Inquiry, 2nd Floor

Dr. Alisha Jones, assistant professor of ethnomusicology, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology Indiana University, Bloomington, considers gospel music as an embodied sexual activity in which vocalists simultaneously experience and surrogate pleasure as an essential, unspoken feature of worship leadership.

Dr. Jones presents her talk “You Are My Dwelling Place: Experiencing Black Male Vocalists’ Worship as Autoeroticism in Gospel Performance" as part of the Amherst Music Department speaker series, New Perspectives in American Music.

Free and open to the public.