Oldest Festival of New Film Comes to Amherst College Nov. 4 and 5

October 31, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-The 40th Ann Arbor Film Festival will come to Amherst College on Monday, Nov. 4, and Tuesday Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium. Two two-hour programs of mostly short films will be shown. The film festival, sponsored at Amherst College by the English department, is free and open to the public.

The 16 films in the Ann Arbor Film Festival travelling program-the latest in 16mm and 35mm independent and experimental films from all over the world-were chosen from films screened at the six-day spring festival in Michigan. A total of 440 films were submitted to this year's festival, works that represent a broad range of categories including animation, experimental, documentary, narrative and personal documentary.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival, founded in 1963 by filmmaker/artist George Manupelli at the University of Michigan School of Art, is the oldest festival of its kind in the country. Now independent of the university and under the direction of Chrisstina Hamilton, the festival attracts independent filmmakers who regard film as an art.

In its 40-year history, the festival has premiered the early efforts of such filmmakers as Brian DePalma, Andy Warhol and George Lucas, who all submitted work to Ann Arbor early in their careers. Other notable entrants included Agnes Varda, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, Kenneth Anger, Sally Cruikshank and Will Vinton of the animated California Raisins fame. Many of the films shown at the festival have been precursors of styles and techniques that later became popular in rock videos and alternative feature films.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival has a Website at http://www.aafilmfest.org/.

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Amherst College Dining Services Recognized by Massachusetts Commission on Employment of People with Disabilities

October 28, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-Amherst College Dining Services received one of 16 Exemplary Employer awards for 2002 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Commission on Employment of People with Disabilities in a ceremony in the Great Hall of the State House in Boston. Easthampton-based Riverside Industries, an agency that places disabled workers in meaningful jobs, nominated the college, stressing that "Amherst College makes sure that its employees from Riverside are treated with the same respect as other college employees."

Deborah Omasta-Mokrzecki, the manager of dining services and student dining, and her staff and managers at Valentine Hall, the college's central dining facility, have worked with Riverside Industries for 5 years, hiring food service attendants, food servers, salad servers, dishwashers and mal checkers/cashiers. According to the nomination, "the environment at Amherst College fosters inclusion and a willingness to enhance the specific skills of employees."

The 16 awards for 2002 recognize employers with "exemplary records in employing and retaining people with disabilities, and in exceeding the 'reasonable accommodation' requirements under the state and federal laws."

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Amherst College Receives National Science Foundation Grant For High-Performance Networking

October 28, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-The National Science Foundation has awarded Amherst College a grant of $150,000 to support the college's connection to the Internet2 networks and establish high-performance networking. Philip Fitz, director of information technology at Amherst, will lead a team of staff from the information technology department that will collaborate with faculty to establish Internet2 connectivity and put it to work in the college's research labs.

"Amherst College prides itself on hiring faculty who are among the top researchers in the country, and so are engaged in cutting-edge research similar to the work being done at large research universities," the team wrote in its proposal. "An increasing number of Amherst science faculty collaborate with researchers at other institutions, and need the very high bandwidth and quality of service of Internet2 to collaborate effectively and efficiently. The College has recognized that high bandwidth connectivity is fast becoming an essential tool for many faculty, and has committed to making improvements in the campus infrastructure."

Amherst's rural location limits its telecommunications choices, especially access to the Internet and Internet2, an effort by 200 universities working in partnership with industry and government to develop advanced network technologies. Working with Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts (the Five College consortium), Amherst is seeking to create a cost-effective fiber network connection to Springfield, Mass., the closest point on the main telecommunications corridors. This NSF grant will be used to establish such high-performance connectivity.

The Advanced Networking Division of the Computers, Information Science and Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation awarded this grant. The NSF funds research and education in science and engineering through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities and other research and education institutions in all parts of the United States. The Foundation accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for basic research. The National Science Foundation Website is at http://www.nsf.gov/home/programs.

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“Little Three” Choral Festival At Amherst College Nov. 17

October 21, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-Choirs from Amherst and Williams Colleges and Wesleyan University will join together in the eighth annual "Little Three" Choral Festival on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 3 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall on the Amherst College campus. Admission is free and the public is invited.

The concert of choral music will feature music of Ravel, Milhaud, Hindemith, Durufl, Hrusovsky, Shaw and many others.

Brad Wells and student director Brian Katz '03 will direct the Williams College Chamber Singers; Ron Ebrecht and assistant director John Graham, the Wesleyan Singers; Mallorie Chernin and assistant director Brad Tilden '02, the Amherst College Concert Choir.

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Sweet Honey In The Rock To Bring A Capella to Amherst College Nov. 3

October 17, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning African-American female a cappella ensemble, will perform at Amherst College on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College. Admission to the concert, presented as part of the college's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, is free but seating is limited. Tickets will be distributed at the door.

A Sweet Honey in the Rock concert is an a cappella experience unlike most others: beyond the group's interwoven parts and complicated harmonies is an intention to inform and illuminate that never becomes preachy or didactic. As the Washington Post wrote of the group, "It's one thing to proselytize and lecture about civil rights, domestic violence, the upcoming elections and the plight of the rain forests. It's quite another to have these subjects illuminated and deconstructed by voices gaining strength like some maniacal engine, with mesmerizing repetitions, modulations smooth as silk and accompaniments resembling the toot of a calliope or a forest of rustling trees."

Bernice Reagon Johnson founded the group in 1973. Having been active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Reagon Johnson was one of the Freedom Singers, the historic African-American vocal group formed during the height of the '60s civil rights struggles. The first song she taught her new group was "Sweet Honey In The Rock," based on a parable that told of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them; the group says this is emblematic of "Sweet Honey's commitment to the black musical forms of its heritage, ancestral and modern, as unifying, communal force against oppression of all types - racial oppression being just the starting point." Reagon Johnson has been singing with the group for almost thirty years.

Sweet Honey in the Rock is a six-person group, with five singers and a sign-language translator. Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell is a prolific composer in addition to being a member of the group; she spends much of her time off-stage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in cultural performance theory. Nitanju Bolade Casel, who spent four years studying and performing in Dakar, Senegal, brings to Sweet Honey her unique performance experience in African vocal styles, jazz, improvisational rhythms and hip hop. Aisha Kahlil specializes in the integration of traditional and contemporary forms of music, dance and theater; she has performed as a singer and dancer with numerous groups, including the Raymond Sawyer Dance Theater, Sounds of Awareness, Sundance and the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers. Kahlil was named Best Soloist by the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) for her performances of "See See Rider" and "Fulani Chant." Carol Lynn Maillard, one of the original members of Sweet Honey, is an accomplished film, television and stage actress. She has performed with the D.C. Black Repertory Company (where she met Reagon Johnson) and the Negro Ensemble Company, as well as appearing at the New York Shakespeare Festival and on Broadway. Shirley Childress Saxton has spent over 25 years providing Sign interpreting services in a wide range of life situations including education, employment, legal, medical, performing arts and music.

Sweet Honey in the Rock has a Website at http://www.sweethoney.com.

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Amherst College Professor Martha Sandweiss Looks at Photography in the American West in New Book

October 16, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- In the recently released book, Print the Legend: Photography and the American West ($39.95, 402 pp., Yale University Press, New Haven, 2002), Martha A. Sandweiss, professor of American studies and history at Amherst College, offers a cultural history of photography in the American West during the 19th century that tracks how the new medium of photography created and shaped popular understanding of the region.

Photography and the American West came of age together. The story narrated in this lavishly illustrated book begins just a few years after the 1839 invention of the daguerreotype, as photographers followed American troops into the Mexican-American War. Photographers were among the pioneers on the overland trails, recording gold seekers and Native Americans, and documenting the spectacular topography of the American West. The new medium made vivid a landscape few Americans had seen for themselves. Resurrecting scores of little-known images of the 19th-century American West, Print the Legend offers tales of ambitious photographic adventurers, missing photographs and misinterpreted images. Sandweiss shows how Americans first came to understand western photographs and, consequently, to envision their nation.

A member of the Amherst College faculty since 1989, Sandweiss was also the director of the Mead Art Museum from 1989 until 1997, and formerly the curator of photographs at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Tex. She received her Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. degrees in history from Yale University, and a B.A. from Radcliffe College. She is the author of Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace (1986), co-author of Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848 (1989), editor of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (1991), co-editor of The Oxford History of the American West (1994) and a contributor to numerous volumes on the art and photography of the American West.

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Eighth blackbird at Amherst College Nov. 16

October 16, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- Amherst College will present eighth blackbird in a concert of works by Rzewski, Perle and the Minimum Security Composers Collective on Saturday, November 16, at 8:00 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall. The concert, sponsored by the Adams Fund for Music, is free and open to the public.

The sextet-Michael J. Maccaferri on clarinet, Molly Alicia Barth on flute, Matthew Albert on violin, Nicholas Photinos on cello, Lisa Kaplan on piano and Matthew Duvall on percussion-is currently ensemble-in-residence at both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Formed in 1996 at the Oberlin Conservatory, eighth blackbird has compiled numerous awards, including the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award and both the 1998 and 2000 CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. Their debut CD, Round Nut Tool, was released in 1999. They have performed all throughout the United States to great popular and critical acclaim. The Boston Globe called them "so good, it's dangerous," while The New York Times praised them as "a superb contemporary music sextet... young, hip, confident and ambitious."

The name eighth blackbird was inspired by the Wallace Stevens poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." The eighth stanza reads: "I know noble accents/And lucid, inescapable rhythms;/ But I know, too, /That the blackbird is involved/ In what I know."

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20th-Century Sculpture and Drawings at Mead Art Museum Oct. 18 to Dec. 18

October 15, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College presents "Assembly / Line: Works by Twentieth-Century Sculptors" from Friday, Oct. 18, until Wednesday, Dec. 18. The exhibit in the Fairchild Gallery features sculpture and drawings from the Mead's permanent collection and from the collection of Thomas P. Whitney (Amherst College Class of '37.) A reception, free and open to the public, will be held at the museum on Friday, Oct. 25, at 4:30 p.m.

Highlights of the show include works by Ilya Bolotowsky, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Henry Moore and Richard Stankiewicz. Sculptures by contemporary artists Heide Fasnacht, Sol LeWitt, Helen Evans Ramsaran, Peter Reginato, Frank Stella and Timothy Woodman are also included. The focal point of the exhibition is the work of Alexander Calder, on long-term loan from Thomas P. Whitney, a friend of the artist. These works span the artist's long career, and include sculpture, drawings and one of Calder's whimsical mobiles.

The other objects in the exhibition exemplify some of the major revolutionary movements that have occurred in abstract 20th-century art, including Neo-Plasticism (Bolotowsky), surrealism (Cornell and Moore), minimalism (LeWitt) and post-modernism (Stella and Fasnacht).

Admission to Mead Art Museum is free. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday evenings until 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and holidays. More information can be obtained on the museum's Website at http://www.amherst.edu/mead or by calling the Mead Art Museum at 413/542-2335.

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Amherst College Professor Javier Corrales Looks at the Politics of Latin American Economic Reform in New Book

October 15, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- In his new book, Presidents Without Parties: The Politics of Economic Reform in Argentina and Venezuela in the 1990s ($55, 352pp., Penn State University Press, University Park, Penn. 2002), Javier Corrales, assistant professor of political science at Amherst College, argues that the crisis of political parties in modern democracies is affecting not just the ways citizens are represented, but also the way states govern the economy. In the 1990s, many Latin American presidents tried to govern without the support of their own parties. The result has been a conflict between the state and the ruling parties, which at times has been far more debilitating and damaging to the economy than the conflicts between the state and other groups. Corrales shows that effective economic management and change requires cooperation between presidents and ruling parties. Without such cooperation, states will be deprived of effective instruments for handling the opposition from vested groups and the credibility deficits that proliferate during periods of economic crisis.

Presidents Without Parties examines closely what happened in Argentina and Venezuela in the 1990s. Similarly situated when they embarked on economic reform in 1989, Argentina experienced success in the mid 1990s, followed by economic collapse in 2001, whereas Venezuela in 1992 simply plunged into a prolonged crisis from which it has yet to recover. Corrales shows precisely how the executive's relationship with the ruling party shaped the different outcomes in the two countries. He then applies this argument to eight other cases of market reform in Latin America in the 1990s, generating new hypotheses about the connection between market opening, democracy and political stability. Presidents Without Parties rejuvenates the ancient argument that governability requires political parties, at a time when few analysts see much to celebrate about the role of parties in modern democracies.

Corrales, who has taught at Amherst since 1997, has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He has taught in Argentina, Paraguay and Venezuela, and earned a B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University, and a Ph. D. in political science from Harvard University.

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Shape-Note Singing School at Amherst College Oct. 24

October 15, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-A Sacred Harp Singing School will take place on Thursday, Oct, 24, from 7 until 10 p.m., in Seligman House on Route 9 at Amherst College. Rachel Speer, an Amherst College sophomore who is organizing the sing, will relate the history of shape-note singing and Kelly House, a member of the Amherst College Class of 1989, will teach sight-reading and pitching. The school will take place from 7 until 8:30 p.m., followed by singing until 10 p.m. No training or musical ability is necessary; experienced singers will be there to help newcomers. Snacks and books will be provided.

Anyone can sing. Sometimes called "ancient music," shape-note singing, a kind of a cappella folk music popular in the United States before the Civil War, can be traced to Reformation psalmody in rural England and to Renaissance polyphony. Itinerant music masters, traveling to rural villages, taught all comers this ancient style of singing, using symbols for the notes on the scale, to simplify sight reading. "Fa," for example, is a triangle, "la," a rectangle. This style still thrives across the U.S. and in the U.K., with strongholds in the American South and New England. The latest edition (1991) of The Sacred Harp, the shape-note songbook, includes tunes composed from the 18th century through the 1980s.

Shape-note singers use relative pitch, so no instruments or pitch pipes are needed. In a square, the trebles (sopranos), sit across from the basses, the altos opposite the tenors, each group singing their own melodies. Listeners really have to be in the square "that is, to be singing" to appreciate the rich unconventional sound that results as each voice sings their own melody. The music is derived mainly from psalms, hymns, anthems and folk songs.

Rachel Speer maintains a Website at http://www.amherst.edu/~respeer/fasola.html that contains useful information about shape-note singing, including dates and times of other local sings.

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