Music & Public Life


Voices of Afghanistan


Featuring Ustad Farida Mahwash, Homayoun Sakhi & The Sakhi Ensemble New England Premiere

Friday, September 28, 2012 at 8pm

Crowell Concert Hall

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). Together with Artistic Director and rubâb (double- chambered lute) virtuoso Homayoun Sakhi, Voice of Afghanistan created an acoustically rich crossroads for sawol-jawab (an interplay of questions and answers) and explored traditional and contemporary Afghan melodies on their inaugural tour, which included 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

Hartford-based mariachi band Los Trovadores de America sang Spanish and English music in an early celebration of the Mexican holiday Dia del Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This event included dinner and traditional holiday treats for all concertgoers.


Kuromori Kagura: Traditional folk music and dance from Iwate Prefecture

Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 8pm

Crowell Concert Hall

Concertgoers were able to 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 performed 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.


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 was joined by his longtime trio partners bassist Henry Lugo and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza.


Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Friday, February 1, 2013 at 8pm

Crowell Concert Hall

Pre-performance talk at 7:15pm

Curated by violinist Paul Woodiel, the New England premiere of Music at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello featured 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 featured 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.


Time Stands Still: Notation in Musical Practice

Wednesday, April 3 through Saturday, April 6, 2013

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 was in residence for a three-day festival dedicated to the performance and interpretation of graphic and text scores. Featured composers included Mark Applebaum, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Parsons, and Wesleyan Music Department faculty Anthony Braxton, Ronald Kuivila, and Paula Matthusen. Events included student workshops, an evening concert, and a symposium of scholarly papers.


Hugh Masekela


Friday, April 19, 2013 at 8pm

Crowell Concert Hall

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.

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