For the past three weeks a group of string players have been working with Professor of Music David Schneider on a chamber music project designed to get classical music out of its traditional settings of classrooms and concert halls. With Schneider on clarinet, a string quartet composed of UMass alumnus Ben Van Vliet, me on violin, Hana Kommel ’10 on viola and local cellist Wayne Smith prepared a range of pieces to bring to a different kind of audience.
Hi, My name is Lester Hu; in fact, my legal first name is Zhuqing, a Chinese word from a 7-century poem which means "a lonely island surrounded by clear water in a lake." Lester is a name that I have randomly picked up as my English name when I was 12 I guess.
A Taste of Music in the Pioneer Valley's Puerto Rican Community
To anyone unfamiliar with the Pioneer Valley (and this includes many college students here), it might seem out of place that Puerto Rican folk music could thrive in the area. But it does, and the large Puerto Rican populations spanning from Hartford to Holyoke support many local musicians playing traditional melodies. Victor Rios, shown in our documentary below, made his living for years playing Puerto Rican music as a full-time musician in the Valley.
Throughout her college years, Deidra Montgomery ’10 has been meeting up with other enthusiasts to raise her voice in a singing tradition called Sacred Harp. Now she’s conducting a formal study of her fellow singers. “I’m looking at who the Western Mass [Sacred Harp] community is, who makes it up and what a regular singing is like,” she says. Phil DuPont ’12 has been attending three Catholic Masses every week, at two different churches in Holyoke, Mass., listening to the differences in the songs and prayers at English- and Polish-language services. The singings and the churches are just a few examples of “Pioneer Valley Soundscapes.”
Amherst Coffee — "Every Thursday evening Amherst Coffee plays host to local jazz group the Liberated Territory Collective." What makes this venue interesting is the very small size of the space and the volume of the music. It is not your normal, in-the-background coffee shop jazz performance. It dominates the space, forcing patrons who wish to talk to lean in closer to one another.