Music and Public Life: a year-long exploration to include concerts, workshops, gatherings, courses at Wesleyan University and in Greater Middletown, CT

Music and Public Life: a year-long exploration to include concerts, workshops, gatherings, courses at Wesleyan University and in Greater Middletown, CT

Wesleyan University's Music Department and Center for the Arts present
Music & Public Life
September 26, 2012 – May 11, 2013
A year-long campus and community-wide exploration
to include concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses

Middletown, Conn., September 19, 2012—During the 2012-2013 academic year, Wesleyan University will celebrate and study the sounds, words, and spirit of music in public at the local, national and transnational levels through concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses, all designed to cross disciplines and to engage both the campus and regional communities. “Music & Public Life” has a global scope andfeatures performances and lectures by scholars and artists from nine different countries. Events during the fall semester include the New England premiere of “Voices of Afghanistan” (September 28) and concerts by Noah Baerman (November 2), Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church Choir and Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem (November 8), and La Cumbiama eNeYé (Colombia) and Merita Halili & The Raif Hyseni Orchestra (Albania) (November 9); talks by ethnomusicologist Anthony Seeger (November 8) and Ben Ratliff of The New York Times (November 14); and a celebration of the centenary of John Cage (December 5-8). As part of the celebration, the public is invited to explore, share, and remix the sounds of Middletown throughout the year as part of MiddletownRemix, a project that combines location-based cell phone technology, a database, and a web application allowing individuals to record and store sounds and images of Middletown using free mobile phone software for iPhone/iOS and Android devices. These sounds will ultimately be remixed and performed by students, faculty and community members on Saturday, May 11, 2013.

For a full listing of all “Music & Public Life” events, please see below, or visit For a chronological listing of all “Music & Public Life” events, please see the attachment to this e-mail.

Voices of Afghanistan featuring Ustad Farida Mahwash, Homayoun Sakhi & The Sakhi Ensemble
Friday, September 28, 2012 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$22 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Pre-performance talk by Wesleyan University Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music Mark Slobin at 7:15pm

"The ensemble's music, alive with cyclic tabla rhythms and spiraling rubab phrases, somehow echoed the sounds and intensity of the times." --The New York Times

Vocalist Ustad Farida Mahwash, the only woman to receive the title of "master" in Central or South Asia, is celebrated around the globe for her exquisite approach to poetic ghazals (folk songs). Artistic Director and rubâb (double-chambered lute) virtuoso Homayoun Sakhi creates an acoustically rich crossroads for sawol-jawab (an interplay of questions and answers), exploring traditional and contemporary Afghan melodies during the New England premiere of Voices of Afghanistan, which includes the musicians of The Sakhi Ensemble: Zmarai Aref on Afghan tabla, Khalil Ragheb on harmonium, Abbos Kosimov on doyra (frame drum), and Pervez Sakhi on tula (flute).

Los Trovadores de America
Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 5pm
Iguanas Ranas, 484 Main Street, Middletown
$30 per person, children 5 and under are free, children 12 and under are $10, students are $20

Hartford-based mariachi band Los Trovadores de America will sing Spanish and English music in an early celebration of the Mexican holiday Dia del Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This event includes dinner with the concert. Reservations are required and should be directed to Iguanas Ranas at 860-346-8630.
Noah Baerman: Jazz With a Conscience

Friday, November 2, 2012 at 8pm
Green Street Arts Center, 51 Green Street, Middletown

While Wesleyan University Jazz Ensemble Coach Noah Baerman is a pianist and composer whose primary medium is instrumental jazz, he has increasingly gravitated towards "message music" in the spirit of artists such as Nina Simone, Charles Mingus and John Coltrane. His award-winning compositions have tackled numerous topics, with entire albums dedicated to self-discovery (Know Thyself), disability (Patch Kit) and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Soul Force). His current projects include a series of compositions inspired by young people in the foster care system and a collaboration with photographer Carla Ten Eyck depicting survivors of serious illness and other traumatic experiences. Mr. Baerman will be joined by his longtime trio partners bassist Henry Lugo and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza.

Merita Halili & The Raif Hyseni Orchestra (Albania)

La Cumbiamba eNeYé (Colombia)
Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8:30pm
Beckham Hall, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students

Ethel Raim, Artistic Director of New York City’s Center for Traditional Music and Dance, curates an evening of performances by Merita Halili & The Raif Hyseni Orchestra and La Cumbiamba eNeYé. Merita Halili is one of Albania's top performers, renowned for her stunning voice, prodigious range and technique. Raif Hyseni, originally from the Republic of Kosova, leads the most sought-after Albanian music ensemble in the United States. Together their performances thrill with masterful interpretations of instrumentals and urban folk songs from both Albania and the Republic of Kosova. Martin Vejarano is a multi-percussionist and the director of the powerfully rhythmic ensemble La Cumbiamba eNeYé. Taking its name from traditional open-air gatherings, La Cumbiamba explores the Colombian musical styles of cumbia, puya and mapalé with the use of traditional instruments from the African diaspora, as well as those of the Indians of Colombia and the European settlers.

Music at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Friday, February 1, 2013 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$24 general public; $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Pre-performance talk at 7:15pm

Curated by violinist Paul Woodiel, the New England premiere of Music at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello features what might have been heard after-hours in the Charlottesville, Virginia home of the third U.S. president (the European concert music of Corelli, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart), as well as in the slaves' quarters (African American and European American traditional musics). This concert features performances by singer, guitarist and banjo player Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton, Dennis James on glass harmonica, singer Kerry O'Malley, violinists Robert Mealy and Mazz Swift, cellist Katie Reitman, Christopher Layer on bagpipes and flutes, and Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce on harpsichord.
Hugh Masekela
Friday, April 19, 2013 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$25 general public; $20 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Pre-performance talk at 7:15pm

South African trumpeter, composer, producer and activist Hugh Masekela is a defining and innovative force in world music and jazz. He performed his Grammy Award-nominated song Grazing in the Grass (which sold over 4 million copies in 1968) at the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as well as at the inaugural "International Jazz Day" at the United Nations in 2012 with Stevie Wonder, Lionel Loueke, Angelique Kidjo, Richard Bona, and Jimmy Heath. Mr. Masekela's 1987 song Bring Him Back Home was an anthem for the "Free Nelson Mandela" movement. He also toured with Paul Simon in support of the classic album Graceland (1986), and appeared with U2 in Johannesburg in 2011.


Voices of Afghanistan Colloquium
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 4:15pm
CFA Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown

Ustad Farida Mahwash, “the Voice of Kabul,” will discuss her music and life as a female vocalist in Afghanistan. Rubab virtuoso Homayoun Sakhi and members of The Sakhi Ensemble will talk about the group’s instrumentation and performance practice.

Rob Rosenthal: Pete Seeger—His Life In His Own Words
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 4:15pm
Daltry Room (Music Rehearsal Hall 003), 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

Wesleyan University John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rob Rosenthal will discuss Pete Seeger: His Life In His Own Words, the book he co-edited with his son Sam Rosenthal.

Rachel Mundy ’00: Birds, Bytes, and the Natural History of Music
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 4:15pm
Daltry Room (Music Rehearsal Hall 003), 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor of Music Rachel Mundy ’00 will examine the public discourse around the complexities of birdsong.
WESeminar: Pop Music Producers & The Real World—A Dysfunctional Marriage
Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 3pm
CFA Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown

Award-winning songwriter and record producer Carl Sturken ’78 will discuss the pop music industry. Mr. Sturken’s career has included making music for such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, and Rod Stewart, as well as discovering and signing current pop superstar Rihanna.

John Troutman:  In Honolulu…There is Music Everywhere—Making Meaning of Hawaiian Guitar Culture In the Era of the Overthrow
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 4:15pm
Daltry Room (Music Rehearsal Hall 003), 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

John Troutman, Assistant Professor of U.S., Cultural, Public, & American Indian History at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, will talk about the culture of Hawaiian guitar music.

Instrumental Influence: A Discussion of Musical Trends in Political Advertising
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 4:15pm
CFA Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown

Using data from the Wesleyan Media Project, this presentation will analyze the content of current political ads and the types of music they contain. The discussion will highlight music's role in political advertising today and the emotions they help convey, and will include numerous audio/visual examples from the 2010 midterm elections and the 2012 presidential election.

Kuromori Kagura
Traditional folk music and dance from Iwate Prefecture
Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$12 general public; $10 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students

Experience a centuries-old folk music and dance tradition from northern Japan that even the ferocious earthquake and tsunami of 3/11 could not destroy. Hailing from Tohoku, a region often referred to as a “treasure chest” of folk arts, the practice of Kuromori Kagura can be traced back to the 17th century when it began in honor of the divine spirit of the Kuromori Shrine in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture. Designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset by the Japanese government, the group will perform a selection of dances from their vast repertoire which includes furious jumps, brisk turns and whimsical moves accompanied by percussion and fue (Japanese flute), revealing a whole new dimension of Japan’s traditional performing arts.

The 11th Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns
Keynote Address at 7pm by Anthony Seeger—“Can We Safeguard Disappearing Musical Traditions? And if We Can, Should We?”
Performances at 7:45pm by Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem & the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church Choir
Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

Distinguished professor of Ethnomusicology and Director of the Ethnomusicology Archive at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Anthony Seeger has published numerous articles focused on issues of land and human rights for Brazilian Indians, archiving and intellectual property, and ethnomusicological theory and method. Mr. Seeger was the Executive Producer of all recordings issued on the Smithsonian Folkways label between 1988 and 2000.

His keynote address will be followed by performances by two Middletown groups: Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, a gleeful string band with sparkling original songs as well as a repertoire that spans 150 years of American music; and the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church Choir, singing contemporary gospel, praise and worship music under the direction of Wesleyan University Adjunct Professor of Music and vibraphonist Jay Hoggard.

A Talk by Ben Ratliff of The New York Times
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 4:15pm
Daltry Room (Music Rehearsal Hall 003), 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

Ben Ratliff has been a jazz and pop critic for The New York Times since 1996. He has written three books: The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (2008); Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (2007) a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings (2002).

The New Transnationalisms of Music Symposium
Friday, March 1, 2013
The Russell House

Beverly Diamond (St. John’s Memorial University, Newfoundland), Anne Rasmussen (The College of William & Mary), Aram Sinnreich (Rutgers University), and Joshua Tucker (Brown University) will engage with Wesleyan faculty and ethnomusicology graduate students on the ways that today's international systems, circuits, and grassroots activists are changing music globally.
Time Stands Still: Notation in Musical Practice
Wednesday, April 3 through Saturday, April 6, 2013
Tickets required; contact the University Box Office for more information.

The Vocal Constructivists, a London-based choral group directed by Wesleyan University Associate Professor of Music Jane Alden, explores idiosyncratic notation as a form of social practice, the scores supplying open-ended vocabulary for collective discourse. The group will be in residence for a three-day festival dedicated to the performance and interpretation of graphic and text scores. Featured composers will include Mark Applebaum, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Parsons, and Wesleyan Music Department faculty Anthony Braxton, Ronald Kuivila, and Paula Matthusen. Events will include student workshops, an evening concert, and a symposium of scholarly papers.

Indonesian Performing Arts & Public Life Symposium
Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 27, 2013
World Music Hall, 40 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

Indonesian wayang(puppet play), dance, and gamelan (an orchestra of bronze gongs, xylophones, drums, and string instruments) have been part of American public life since the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. Since then, countless Indonesian performing arts have appeared throughout North America, such as the 1952 tours of Balinese dance and gamelan, Indonesian performances in the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, and many others. Alongside the burgeoning of ethnomusicology, the 1960s marked the spread of gamelan study and performances on American campuses. This symposium will feature Kathy Foley, Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of California Santa Cruz (where she is Interim Provost of Merrill College), speaking on the presence of Southeast Asian puppetry in the West; and Sarah Weiss, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Yale University, who will speak about past and present hybridity in gamelan and wayang. In addition, Wesleyan University Professor of Music Sumarsam will speak on wayang and technology, and address electricity in contemporary Javanese wayang performance. A series of wayang and gamelan performances directed by Wesleyan Artist in Residence I.M. Harjito will be an integral part of the symposium.

John Cage & Public Life
Wednesday, December 5 through Saturday, December 8, 2012

This collection of events celebrates the centenary of John Cage (1912-1992) by focusing on his understanding of music as a social process.

Richard Kostelanetz Lecture
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 7pm
CFA Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown

Richard Kostelanetz, the noted literary artist and author of the first biography of John Cage, will discuss the social dimension of John Cage's work. The lecture will be followed by a performance of John Cage's Lecture on the Weather (1975), which was commissioned for the U.S. bicentennial and intended to be performed by Americans who have renounced citizenship.

 Etcetera & HPSCHD
Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$4 Wesleyan students, $5 all others

The Wesleyan University Orchestra will perform John Cage's Etcetera (1973), which was commissioned by Wesleyan University for the inauguration of the Center for the Arts. Following the performance of Etcetera will be an extended performance of HPSCHD (1969) by the Wesleyan New Music Alliance in Fayerweather Beckham Hall.

Song Books by John Cage
Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

David Barron and Wesleyan Professors of Music Ron Kuivila and Neely Bruce perform Song Books (1970) by John Cage. Vocalist Anne Rhodes MA ’06 will be featured, recreating the role performed by Phyllis Bruce numerous times between 1978 and 1987.


MiddletownRemix is a collaborative, place-based sound project that enables people to develop and express the acoustic identity of Greater Middletown.  In so doing, participants will understand more about themselves, their neighbors and where they live. The goal is to create works of art that express the essence, breadth, and depth of Greater Middletown using a database of sounds captured through UrbanRemix technology ( The UrbanRemix platform consists of a mobile phone system and web interface for recording, browsing, and mixing audio. It allows users to document and explore the obvious, neglected, private, public, and even secret sounds of the urban environment.

 The hope is to create a rich database of Greater Middletown sounds and develop art projects that invite collaboration city-wide, inspire intentional listening that challenges or changes perceptions of the city, and reveal the composer within everyone.

The MiddletownRemix project exists on the internet, on the radio (WESU 88.1FM) and in events, performances and installations that will occur in Greater Middletown throughout the year, culminating in a community-wide MiddletownRemix celebration on Saturday, May 11, 2013. The celebration will feature the world premiere of a composition for laptop orchestra by Jason Freeman of UrbanRemix. For more information about MiddletownRemix, please visit


Music & Public Life is supported by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New England Foundation for the Arts, and is co-sponsored by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the American Studies Department, the Center for African American Studies, the Center for the Arts, the College of the Environment, Iguanas Ranas Restaurant, the Middletown House Concert Series, the Music Department’s George Jackson Fund, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of the Dean of the Arts and Humanities, the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, and Wesleyan Writing Programs. The Kuromori Kagura performance is presented in collaboration with Japan Society, New York.


Tickets are available online at, by phone at (860) 685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown, CT. Tickets may also be purchased at each event beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University,” and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount—please call (860) 685-3355 for details. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges.