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Amherst Today Program

Music @ Amherst Today

Schedule of Events

Friday, April 17

8 a.m. - 1 p.m. Early Registration
Check in and pick up registration packets
Smith House, 22 Hitchcock Road

8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Visit Open Classes
A list of classes will be posted online prior to the event and will also be provided in your registration packet.

11 a.m - 1 p.m. Lunch (on your own)
Meal tickets are provided in registration packets.
Valentine Dining Hall

1 - 3:15 p.m. Chamber Music @ Amherst
Students from Prof Jenny Kallick's chamber music seminar will perform works in-progress. They will describe how they come together as groups and how repertoire is chosen. They will demonstrate rehearsal techniques, researching the composers and repertoire, and highlight how music on the page becomes live music. In addition, they will describe their recent collaboration with the Grammy award-winning Parker String Quartet.

1 p.m. String Quartet

1:45 p.m. Wind Quintet

2:30 p.m.  Voice and Piano

Music Room 3, Arms Music Center

1:30 - 4:30 p.m. Registration
Pick up your packets and nametags
Lobby, Arms Music Center

3:30 p.m. Welcome
Mallorie Chernin, senior lecturer and director of the choral music program
Music Room 3, Arms Music Center

3:45 - 4:45 p.m.
History Becoming Opera: From Novel to Score
In 1805, a young man traveling on the Massachusetts Turnpike met a violent end near Springfield. It was recalled later that two Irish immigrants had passed through town the day of the murder. A posse caught up with a surprised James Halligan and Dominic Daley, and they returned to Massachusetts hoping to clear up a misunderstanding. Instead they found themselves on trial for their lives. Notwithstanding an absence of evidence against them, the men were convicted in a trial that became a flashpoint for nativist hysteria across the young republic. More than 10,000 people journeyed to Northampton to see them hang.

These events became the basis of Michael C. White's novel The Garden of Martyrs, which tells the story from the point of view of the French priest, Father Cheverus,  who came to the convicts' defense.  The novel offers up the stuff of opera: a timeless American story of immigration and xenophobia, a conflict between individual principle and state power, and heroic and villainous acts.  In May 2010, composer Eric Sawyer of the Amherst College music faculty and librettist Harley Erdman of the UMass theater faculty secured the rights to White's novel and began to adapt the story. In September 2013, the finished work was performed to sold-out houses at Northampton's Academy of Music Theater with the Springfield Symphony and a chorus including Amherst and Five College students with Mallorie Chernin as chorus master. Today's lecture will consider the process of drawing on this regionally pivotal history for an opera story, and the progression of this story from novel to opera libretto, score, and staging.
Music Room 3, Arms Music Center

5 p.m.
Opening Reception
Mullins-Faerber Rooms, Valentine Hall

5:45 p.m. Dinner
Mullins-Faerber Rooms, Valentine Hall

7 p.m. Garden of Martyrs
Selections from the 2013 performance of the opera by composer Eric Sawyer of the Amherst College music faculty and librettist Harley Erdman of the UMass theater faculty
Room 212, Arms Music Center

Saturday, April 18

7:30 - 9 a.m. Breakfast (on your own)
Meal tickets are provided in registration packets. An area will be set aside for the group in the Weiller Wing, to your left as you enter the dining hall.
Valentine Dining Hall

9 a.m.
Choirs, Community, and Citizenship in Twenty-First-Century Estonia
A remarkably large part of Estonia's 1.3 million population participates in choral singing, maintaining a tradition rooted in nineteenth-century nationalist movements and the experience of national independence, Soviet occupation, and post-Soviet European integration. Choirs enjoy the support of the state and organizations like UNESCO, and the national song festivals staged every five years attract global attention while making the idea of the "singing nation" tangible. Jeffers Engelhardt, associate professor of music, will discuss some of the latest sounds and developments in the Estonian choral singing tradition, suggesting how such a small country produces so many world-class choirs, how the tradition has remained relevant into the 21st century, and how complex issues of national identity and citizenship bear on the choral tradition.
Music Room 3, Arms Music Center

10 a.m. Break

10:15 a.m. Black South African Choral Music and the Struggle Against HIV/AIDS
In this lecture, Mollie Stone '01 will explain how South Africans have used choral music throughout history to spread information, mobilize people to take action, protest the government's policies, provide comfort and support to those who suffer, generate funds and awareness for social and political issues, and preserve their cultural identity amidst oppression. By tracing the evolution of this uniquely powerful musical genre from the late 18th century through apartheid to reconciliation, she will explain how black South Africans are currently using this music to combat HIV/AIDS. Mollie, director of world music for the Chicago Children's Choir, is writing a dissertation on how South Africans are using choral music in the struggle against HIV.
Music Room 3, Arms Music Center

11:30 p.m. Lunch
Meal tickets are provided in registration packets. Pick up your lunch and join the group in Mullins Faerber, which is located across the Valentine lobby from the main dining hall, adjacent to Lewis Sebring Dining Commons. During lunch there will be two brief presentations:

Divinely Decadent: Catholicism and the sound of Queerness in Samuel Barber's Hermit Songs
During the first half of the 20th century a group of gay American composers served as architects, constructing a musical identity that continues to signify America today. It is easy to think about music in isolation, as series of chords, harmonies, and motives. Jordan Hugh Sam '14, graduate associate in music, challenges that conception. Considering that a number of prominent American composers at this time were gay, he asks: How do their gay identities relate to the music? Can music be considered queer? He focuses on Samuel Barber's Hermit Songs to explore a relationship between Barber's gay identity and his music.

The Voice of the Cello: Topics in Cello Concertos
Something of an anomaly in a piano- and violin-dominated genre, cello concertos occupy a particularly interesting space within concerto literature. The bravura passages that feature so prominently in concertos for the piano or the violin often seem at odds with the cello. How, then, is virtuosity conveyed in the context of a cello concerto?  Given its range, how does the solo cello find its voice amidst the orchestral clamor?  And what topics or themes are usually ascribed to the solo cello?  Diana Chou '15, a math and music double major, will discuss works including the Dvořák and Elgar Cello Concertos.

Mullins-Faerber Rooms, Valentine Hall

1 p.m. Concertos, Violins, and Virtuous Virtuosity
Concertos, works for solo instrument and orchestra, traditionally adhere to a dramatic trajectory that concludes with virtuoso fireworks--a dazzling technical display for the soloist. There are few exceptions to this approach in concertos in the nineteenth century, but around 1900 composers began to experiment with alternative ending strategies. By the 1920s and '30s, while concertos ending with technical virtuosity continued to be the rule, the number and importance of works using alternative approaches increased. David Schneider, professor of music, will introduce the most important of these exceptional works thorough musical examples from concertos by Ernst von Dohnányi, Alban Berg, Ferrucio Busoni and Serge Prokofiev, and will describe the aesthetic and practical challenges presented by composers' attempts to integrate virtuosity and transcendence.
Music Room 3, Arms Music Center

2 p.m. Break

2:15 p.m. Fiber Optic Improvisation:
Making Telematic Music on the Internet

Imagine a single concert that takes place in multiple locations at the same time during which performers and audiences have a shared experience that transcends distance and place. From an eco-opera to concerts in support of world peace, such performances have become common and go by a number of names--telematics, networked music, net music--and often use specialized open-source software to create low-latency audio and video networks on the Internet. Drawing upon his experiences performing and producing telematic concerts, Jason Robinson, assistant professor of music, will discuss the technical dimensions of telematics and the remarkable implications this new context for music making has on deeply held assumptions about performance, interaction, improvisation, and embodiment. Surprisingly, we may discover that telematics reveals more about traditional co-located performance than a science fiction-like future. As many telematic performers say, we usually strive to "be in the same room together."
Music Room 3, Arms Music Center

3:30 p.m. Rehearsal
Tenors and basses who have practiced Soon Ah Will be Done and Terras Irradient are invited to join the Glee Club for rehearsal and part of the upcoming performance.
Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center

3:30 - 5 p.m. Dinner
Grab a quick bite in town, or at Valentine Dining Hall, which opens at 4:30 p.m. (tickets are in your registration packet)

5 p.m. Glee Club 150th Anniversary Concert and Winning Song Premiere
The Glee Club will perform a variety of sacred and secular music, songs of other nations and spirituals, including pieces by William Dawson, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Robert Shaw, Izumi Taku and others. In celebration of their sesquicentennial they will also premiere the winning College Song, The Moose by Asa Goodwillie '16. The Glee Club is conducted by director Mallorie Chernin and assistant director Jordan Hugh Sam '14.The concert concludes with the traditional Senior Song by James S. Hamilton (Class of 1906) and the passing of the historic senior chalice. The concert is free and open to the public.
Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center

6:30 p.m. Musical Games and Closing Reception
Join in the fun with the students from the Glee Club, audience members and emcee Aleks Merkovich '17 as you test your knowledge of song titles, or just enjoy refreshments and the post-concert glow.
Music Room 7, Arms Music Center