OECD Weekly Digest – August 29, 2016

Digest-Title-3-520Welcome to the first issue of the OECD’s Weekly Digest of the semester! If you’d like to add your voice to the listings we choose each week, please don’t hesitate to send us a note.

Welcome to the first issue of the OECD’s Weekly Digest of the semester! If you’d like to add your voice to the listings we choose each week, please don’t hesitate to send us a note.
While We Were Away… BREXIT!
A seismic event this summer was Brexit, a referendum in the UK that led to the separation of Britain from the European Union.

Can Opera Become an Agent of Change?
NYT: Zachary Woolfe
A review of “Abduction From the Seraglio” at Lyon Opera opens up the question.

A Renaissance of Conductorless Orchestras Reveals the Limits of Traditional Leadership
New Statesman: James Chater
What could the modern counterparts of the first conductor-free orchestras, once a socialist utopian vision, teach our politicians today?

Aging of America. What Does It Mean for the Future of the Arts?

Barry’s Blog
America is dealing with both ends of population changes:  1) the coming of age of the Millennials, now having surpassed the Baby Boomers in absolute numbers; and 2) the aging of those Baby Boomers as they begin, en masse, to become seniors (aged 65 and up).

Chorus America Releases First-Ever Study of Choral Music Audiences

Chorus America Staff
A new report released by Chorus America provides the first-ever systematic look at what moves and motivates the people who attend choral music concerts.

Big Music Doesn’t Need Huge Halls

NYT: Anthony Tommasini
Most concert halls and opera houses are just too big. More intimate performance spaces have, with reason, become the rage.

Would Donald Trump Make Art Great Again?

The Washington Post: Phillip Kennicott
Arts leaders say they are nervous in general about the candidacy of Donald Trump, who has deployed authoritarian language more consistently than any major political figure in memory, but they are not particularly worried about this country’s robust tradition of free expression.


Dance is the Most Physically Demanding Job in America

Reno Gazette-Journal: Steve Trounday
Business Insider covered the 27 most physically active jobs in the US.

What We Learned from the First New York Opera Fest

WQXR: Merrin Lazyan
There may be no better time than the present to be an opera fan in New York City, which is currently home to approximately 80 companies.

Opera as a Midlife Crisis: A New Company Takes a Fresh Look at a Classic

The Washington Post: Anne Midgette
A new opera ensemble that’s seeking to change established opera-world models.

Remaking Pennsylvania Ballet, Ángel Corella Hires 17 New Dancers

NYT: Michael Cooper
The company’s artistic director, Ángel Corella, has now overseen the departure and replacement of more than half of its dancers since his arrival in 2014.

Why More Women Are Winning at Musical Chairs

Bloomberg News: Melvyn Krauss
Fairness, feminism and affirmative action has very little to do with this development.

Los Angeles Opera Sales Are Up

LA Times: David Ng
Los Angeles Opera said unaudited figures for its recently ended 30th anniversary season show a 19.9% increase in the number of tickets sold and a 27.6% rise in ticket revenue compared with the previous season.

European Tour will be Minnesota Orchestra’s Final ‘First’ on the Comeback Trail

Star Tribune: Graydon Royce
Audiences and critics will be eager to hear whether this is the same band that delighted London audiences in 2010.

Atlanta Symphony on Firmer Ground, Records Second Budget Surplus in a Row
ArtsATL: Scott Freeman
What a difference a couple of years can make.

Kansas City Symphony Breaks Records, Busts Trends
KC Business Journal: Brian Kaberline
Perhaps more impressive, the symphony series performances sold 95 percent of available tickets, on average.

Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Musicians Authorize Strike
The Buffalo News: Mark Sommer
Musicians of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra last month overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization for the first time in the symphony’s 87-year history.

The Resurrection of Nantes: How Free Public Art Brought the City Back to Life
The Guardian: Giovanna Dunmall
If you make people pay for culture, or only offer it in enclosed spaces like theatres or museums, you will only ever reach a small percentage of the population.

After the Cultural Revolution: What Western Classical Music Means in China

The Guardian: Madeleine Thien
The Cultural Revolution had catastrophic consequences for musicians in China, where listening to Beethoven became a political crime. Fifty years on, how have attitudes changed?

Beautiful Ballet in a Violent Slum
CNN: Allison Love
On a hilltop overlooking the sprawling Complexo de Alemão favela, girls fill an old basketball court in Rio de Janeiro.

Bringing Ballet to the Townships of South Africa
PBS Newshour: Martin Seemungal
While many cultural divides still remain, some black South Africans are now turning to ballet, once reserved for wealthy whites.

Music Producers Explain How They Created a Hit (Hint: collaboration!)
NYT: Joe Coscarelli
Benefiting from the cross-pollination of regions and genres, these collaborations can introduce the featured artists to new audiences, with rappers and crooners crossing over among dance-pop aficionados.

Montreal’s Video Game Orchestra Ushers in all Generations
The Star: Allan Woods
Quebecers take their video games seriously, so it seems only natural that the capital of Canada’s gaming industry would be the place to translate the sounds, songs and melodies of a generation into serious music.

New Video Game Goes with Ballet and Modern Art
Inverse: Steve Haske
Even for an independent game scene already teeming with strange and interesting projects from around the world, Bound sticks out.

Algorithm and Blues: Putting a Google-Written Song to the Test
The Star (Toronto): Nick Patch
Google’s computers wrote a song. In the hands of a professional musician, does the tune have potential?

Kickstarter’s Impact On The Creative Economy
A recent study finds that Kickstarter projects have employed 283,000 part-time collaborators in bringing creative projects to life; created 8,800 new companies and nonprofits, and 29,600 full-time jobs; such jobs have generated more than $5.3 billion in direct economic impact for those creators and their communities.

Why Do We Love Bad Singing?
Slate: Carl Wilson
From Florence Foster Jenkins to William Hung to Rebecca Black, America has long been fascinated with failed crooners. But who decides what’s good, what’s good-bad, and what’s just bad?

Meryl Streep Explains Our Fascination with Florence Foster Jenkins
WQXR host Elliott Forrest sat down with both stars prior to opening day to discuss our endless fascination with this peculiar figure as well as her partner and manager, St. Clair Bayfield.

The Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation
at the Kelley School of Business offers one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculums in the world, with nationally-ranked academic programs that a wide range of real-world entrepreneurial experiences through cross-campus initiatives with university departments and involvement with the business community.


Dr. Joyce McCall honored with National Minority Role Model Award

Dr. Joyce McCall

Dr. Joyce McCall

Joyce McCall, Postdoctoral Resident Scholar/Visiting Assistant Professor in the Music Education Department, will be honored as a Minority Access National Role Model at the Seventeenth Minority Access National Role Models Conference in Washington, D.C. on October 1, 2016. Past recipients include the first African American Attorney General, Eric Holder, and Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson, Jr., the first African American Surgeon General of the United States Navy. The Minority Access’ National Role Models Conference assembles high achieving innovators, recruiters, researchers, faculty, administrators, students, mentors and alumni, as well as institutions that have been exemplary in producing minority researchers. Dr. McCall believes that one of the greatest accomplishments any person can achieve is to pass on their knowledge and experience to those who have been otherwise defined by boundaries of marginalization and privilege.

Dr. McCall earned a Ph. D. in Music Education from Arizona State University and a Master of Music Education and Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to her appointment at IU, she served as an assistant band director at MacArthur High School in Houston, Texas. She has also served as a woodwind and marching band specialist in Mississippi and Alabama.

In efforts to create more inclusive structures in music and education, McCall’s research focuses on the intersections of race, class, and culture in educational settings, as well as intersecting formal and informal strategies through the use of popular music and digital culture. She has proudly served as a clarinetist in the United States Army Bands from 1999 to present. Previous assignments include the 151st Army Band in Montgomery, Ala.; 41st Army Band in Jackson, Miss.; and 36th Infantry Division Band in Austin, Texas. Currently, she is a member of the 36th Infantry Division Band. She is also a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for Women.



Saying Yes : The Art of Assessing and Accepting a Role in College and Beyond by Peter Thoresen – featuring Kevin Murphy

by Peter Thoresen | www.peterthoresen.com

Young singers face a multitude of decisions as they embark on an educational career at a university or conservatory. Matters of class decisions, finding a compatible roommate, and teacher selection are only a few of the critical decisions required of them. After a student figures out how to navigate the minutia of getting around campus and knowing just how many pages are in their library “print allotment,” the prospect of being cast in an opera role seems like the easiest decision to make—if you’re offered a role in your school’s opera theater season, you should smile, be grateful, and say, “Yes.” Right?

Not necessarily. Sometimes we’re put in a situation that feels both luxurious and troubling—we’re offered a role and we feel excited and grateful, yet concerned. This complex and complicated assortment of emotions is absolutely operatic. It requires thoughtfulness, imagination (contemplating how our lives will be affected), and frequently difficult decision-making.

To gain further perspective, I reached out to mezzo-soprano and teacher Catherine Cook and opera coach and administrator Kevin Murphy. Both offered valuable advice on how to decide if a role is right for you.


Catherine Cook


Cooking Up a Role
I caught up with Catherine Cook by phone on a hot July day as she drove to rehearsal for Sweeney Todd at Mill City Summer Opera to prepare for her summer performances as Mrs. Lovett. “I did the role in college and have been wanting to do it again for 20 years—it’s been on my bucket list,” Cook says of the baker of “the worst pies in London.”

Over the course of a career with an enviable balance of performing and teaching at the highest levels, Cook is the recipient of the Frederica von Stade Distinguished Chair in Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music—an institution that’s just down the block from the San Francisco Opera where Cook has sung over 300 performances in an expansive repertoire, which will grow to include the Countess in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier this fall as she celebrates her 25th season with the company.

On this summer day, our conversation centers on our students and the tremendous responsibility teachers face as they guide and nurture them through a variety of situations, including the whens and whys of accepting a role offered at the collegiate level.

“It’s different in college, because at the university level you’re there to learn—but stage time is stage time,” Cook says. “It is really valuable. You might think, ‘I’ll never sing this role,’ but if you have the opportunity to get onstage, you’ll learn something.”

Cook is quick to point out, however, that this learning experience shouldn’t be at the expense of a singer’s vocal health or get in the way of their development. “College time is precious—don’t waste lesson time wrapping your voice around a role that’s not for you.

“But if it’s a role that’s just a little bit outside of your Fach, it’s OK,” she continues. “And for roles like that, or roles that are in your Fach but you’re not cast, ask if you can understudy! I always tell my students, ‘Ask if you can understudy—you may not get to put the role on your résumé, but you’ll get some coachings and you’ll have a learning experience.’”

Cook is an empowering and inspiring educator, and her advice is colored by the words of her mentors—celebrated teacher Barbara Hahn and her career-long manager, John Anderson, president of Barrett Artists. Their counsel has shaped Cook’s decision-making over the years and has direct impact on how she advises her students as they decide whether to say yes to a role.

“‘No’ is a complete sentence,” Cook advises, quoting John Anderson. “I tell that to my students at the conservatory and in workshops. It’s empowering and it’s OK. If you’re meant to have that dream role, it will come. We all have something that we do really well—and you might not know it yet when you’re in college.

“As a student,” she continues, “you have to do the work—but even now as a teacher, I still call Barbara Hahn about role decisions, and she asks, ‘Do you want to do that? You can sing it, but do you want to do that?’” It’s questions like these that many students feel they’re not allowed to ask while in school. And because stage time is so valuable, these types of questions tend to be swept under the rug in order to add a role to a résumé.

Additional questions include matters of musical practicality. As you’re weighing your options, Cook furthers that “with young voices, it’s so important and it really matters if the production is with full orchestra.”

Matters of financial practicality also worked their way into our conversation. “Sometimes a student is cast in five different things, and then it becomes a matter of ‘getting your dollar’s worth,’” she says. “A student might feel like they have to say yes to all five things, but it’s OK to let a couple of things go. Otherwise—with so much to do—our work in the studio is going to suffer. You want to leave school with the technical tools that will lead you into your career. When you leave, you should have a clear idea of what you need to do onstage—musically, technically, and as an actor.”


Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Murphy’s Law
Cook’s encouragement to candidly assess a situation and to ask oneself important questions was right in step with the advice of Kevin Murphy, director of coaching and music administration at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera & Ballet Theater.

“For young singers, it’s important—right from the beginning—to feel like they’re in charge of their own voices and their boundaries,” Murphy says. “Saying yes to a role is easier than saying no. Say no if it doesn’t feel right or sit well from the beginning—always be looking out for your own throat.”

His advice is based on an illustrious and ongoing career, working with the great singers of today and training those of tomorrow. Murphy, who maintains an on- and off-stage partnership with his wife and celebrated Metropolitan Opera soprano Heidi Grant Murphy (also on faculty at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music), previously served as director of music administration and casting advisor at the New York City Opera and was the first pianist and vocal coach invited by Maestro James Levine into the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera.

“At many schools, students sometimes feel the pressure to say yes to a role because they don’t want to offend somebody who’s an authority figure in their education,” Murphy says.

He also says that students need to be honest and to discuss their concerns about a role with a member of a school’s casting committee. “A student shouldn’t be afraid of offending somebody,” he says, “and it’s important for a singer to have a team that knows his or her voice—a team that they can discuss these issues with.”

Like Cook, Murphy also emphasizes the importance of making a decision about a role based on the circumstances and various contexts related to the performance forces involved—such as singing a role with piano accompaniment versus a full orchestra, and how much of the role a singer is actually tasked with singing. “It’s very different if you’re singing a portion of a role in a workshop, the entire role, or just an aria,” he advises. “I think that people are a little too conservative about what singers can and can’t do.”

When it comes to the usual repertoire suspects, Murphy mentions a frequent reaction that many young singers and their teachers have to certain composers. “They hear the name Puccini and they head for the hills, thinking that Mozart is the only—and the best—option for young singers,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with heavier roles if it’s in the right place. For a program of scenes or a performance with just piano accompaniment, it’s definitely doable for a young voice that’s built to sing heavier roles. One size does not fit all.”

With regard to venue, Murphy refers to the Musical Arts Center at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. “It’s a big auditorium and a large orchestra, but the room really favors the voice. The orchestra doesn’t cover the voice like it does in other theaters.”

Further still, Murphy is quick to point out that the same considerations should be factored into the personnel involved in a production. “Who the conductor is matters when it comes to who can sing a role—especially when it comes to jacking up the orchestra, and if a conductor is not a singer’s conductor.”

This also applies to directors and if the set and staging are favorable to singers. Matters of how far upstage and on which types of levels singers are asked to sing on impact their ability to be heard, feel comfortable, and make a role sustainable.

Sustainability is a key factor when it comes to saying yes or no to a role. Murphy uses Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah as an example. “We hear a lot of young singers sing these arias in auditions—‘The Trees on the Mountains’ and ‘Ain’t It a Pretty Night?’—and they think they can do the entire role,” Murphy says. But those arias aren’t totally representative of what sustaining an entire performance of the role actually requires. “It sits pretty low, and young singers have to look at the whole role in context—those arias don’t say a lot about the rest of the evening.”

Keeping a keen eye—and ear—on “the rest of the evening,” what it entails, and how that affects a singer’s voice in both the long and short term is what’s critically important in planning, sustaining, and enjoying a career as a singer. There’s so much that we can do, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should do it.

So, like Mimì or Countess Almaviva, be prepared to take a deep breath, ponder the challenges and joys of this difficult decision-making, and trust in both your desires and the intelligence of your body, brains, and voice. Such thoughtfulness and intelligence will lead you to say “yes” to the right roles and “no” to the wrong ones.

Peter Thoresen is a Manhattan-based voice teacher, countertenor, and arts consultant. A regular contributor to the Auditions Plus blog, he previously served as business manager to opera legend Thomas Hampson and also served on the faculty of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, leading Project Jumpstart, a music entrepreneurship program. For more information, visit www.peterthoresen.com.

© Classical Singer, Sept. 2016

Menahem Pressler’s Life in Music From Kristallnacht to Lang Lang

by Benjamin Ivry

The German-born Israeli-American pianist Menahem Pressler will be 93 in December. Best recalled as long-time cornerstone of the Beaux Arts Trio, Pressler has since thrived as a solo performer and collaborative musician. He also continues a distinguished teaching career at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University and overseas. “This Desire for Beauty”, a book of conversations with the journalist Holger Noltze, has appeared in Germany from Körber-Stiftung. During a recent stopover in London, Professor Pressler discussed with “The Forward’s” Benjamin Ivry about the importance of music in his life.

Benjamin Ivry: You have described how during Kristallnacht in 1938, your father’s clothing store in Magdeburg, Germany was wrecked. The next day you practiced the piano as usual. Why?

Menahem Pressler: Piano practice for me was the fulfillment of the inner desire to make music. I had a hunger to practice. Music was for me a religion, although you know I am Jewish and was brought up in an Orthodox house.

After you fled with your parents to Trieste, then Haifa, you suffered from weakness and anorexia until two Israeli boys, the cellist Menachem Meir and violinist Nakdimon Tubin, asked you play with them in a trio. This first trio experience proved a salvation. At the time did it matter that Menahem was the son of the then-Minister of Labor Golda Meir?

That didn’t come into the thought at all. After the two boys spoke to me, I asked, ‘What do you mean by a trio?’ It was an overwhelming experience to play a Schubert trio, so exquisite. Menachem Meir was actually a very good cellist, studying very, very seriously. He kept a journal inscribed on the cover, ‘Menachem Meir, the best cellist in the world.’

Your family arrived in Haifa in October 1939, which was quite late, considering that they had contemplated the move for a while. Why did they wait so long?

This was my mother. My mother believed that Hitler was something that would surely be over soon. By the time they decided to leave, in hindsight we knew it was at the last minute.

You were born Max Pressler, and used the name Menahem in Israel. As you point out, Menahem means consoler or comforter, although since Menachem Begin, the meaning may have been somewhat obscured. Why did you retain the name Menahem after you left Israel for America in the 1950s?

As a Jewish boy I was born with the name Max Menahem, so I had my Hebrew name from the beginning. When I was called to the Torah, I had my Hebrew name, which was Menahem. I felt that when I went to San Francisco for the Debussy competition, I felt that I represent the Jewish people and the Jewish state, so I used the name Menahem.

Your teachers in Israel included Leo Kestenberg, an influential music educator who encouraged you to read musical scores through the prism of literature and philosophy. Is this approach possible today when students have less appetite or time to read great books?

The ones who have less time are less educated. They may play the piano more fast and loud for audiences that are less educated. You know the most popular pianist now is Lang Lang, a delightful boy who studied with me a little in Ravinia. You know, culture is not a major aspect for him. I certainly try to influence my students to build an inner life that has meaning. It’s not like a business, to make a living, but to build a life. Like the rabbis, we hope there is a great inner life that is higher up and that, too, I hope for with young musicians.

Kestenberg asked you to call him by his first name, which you found impossible to do, out of respect. Would you ever ask one of your own students to call you by your first name?

Never, and I never could call Kestenberg by his first name. Of course I could not call him by his first name. I never dared to. I regard a teacher very, very highly. [A teacher] is someone in your life who plays an enormous role. To become free of the teacher, who puts you in touch with so many things, means that you grow up inside. You can compare this to a bar mitzvah, when a young boy supposedly becomes a man.

You have discussed the harsh mutual criticism during rehearsals and even performances with the Beaux Arts Trio.. You mention that the violinist Isidore Cohen, who joined the trio in 1968, had problems with “taste,” and had they not been resolved, he would not have continued with the trio. Did seniority give you the status to say who could play in the trio and what was acceptable playing? The previous violinist, Daniel Guilet, would tell you and the cellist Bernard Greenhouse: “You’re peasants, and you don’t understand.”

No, it was not completely that way. Guilet was originally Guilevitch. He came from [a Russian Jewish family] and went through France. When he played chamber music, he was insulting, it’s true, but not to me. I didn’t feel it as an insult, but Greenhouse did. [Guilet] had some fire in his chamber music. I liked that, I took that and learned from it and it deepened my playing. Cohen was another story. His parents, like good Jewish parents, wanted him to become a doctor, so he went to university. He became the oldest violin student on the G. I. Bill. Now he was a man who had idiosyncrasies, and some of them, in my opinion, led to bad things, so I offered my insights. To have Greenhouse as a cellist was a blessing, one of the most beautiful cellists ever. Cohen’s taste was not as pure, and so there would be fights, yes.

You claim that while the pianist Arthur Rubinstein was “enormously talented, a child of the sun,” Vladimir Horowitz was more of a “hothouse plant.” How so?

You see, the example at that time for any young pianist was Horowitz. He played the most unexpected piano. You could not understand the Mazurkas of Chopin the way he played them. Colors came out you never expected to see. With Rubinstein, the beauty of his playing was so natural that when you heard him you felt, yes, that is the nature of the piece, that is the way I would like to play it. Rubinstein came to hear our trio for the first time and told me backstage that when he was told the Beaux Arts Trio was the greatest, he was sure they had to be three Japanese musicians. Instead we were three old Jews playing.

You call your friend the American pianist and musicologist Robert Levin the Talmudist. Why?

First of all, Levin has read more about music and knows more music than anyone I have ever met. So anything about Mozart, he knows, like somebody who can speak 20 languages. He is far, far, far beyond anyone I have ever met.

In Los Angeles in the late 1940s, you performed for such celebrities as Alma Mahler and the conductor Bruno Walter.

At the time Los Angeles did not have any air conditioning. I said, Mrs. Mahler, ‘I’m terribly sorry, may I take off my jacket?’ I was very respectfully dressed. She said, ‘You can undress if you want to.’ I remained dressed. When she spoke of Bruno Walter, she used his [original] Jewish name, Schlesinger. She would say, “Oh, Schlesinger loves music.” Bruno Walter was the most beautiful man, and he said to me that one of the most beautiful things that has happened in our world was the creation of the state of Israel.

With students you often paraphrase a Talmudic saying, “I learned a great deal from my teachers, I learned even more from myself, and I learned most of all from my students.” The Misha cites R. Chanina: “I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students.” (Ta’anis 7a). Your version leaves out colleagues; you haven’t learned much from them?

Oh no, that is not what I meant. I didn’t know that about the colleagues, of course I learn from my colleagues. But when I speak of myself, it means I look within myself for answers and find solutions by osmosis. You do not have to spell it out when investigating yourself. With a student, you do have to spell it out, even if many good ones understand immediately.


Benjamin Ivry is a frequent contributor to the Forward: http://forward.com/culture/qa/347886/menachem-presslers-life-in-music-from-kristallnacht-to-lang-lang/

Two Alumni Give Successful Performance at the UN

kim paick

Violist Namjoong Kim (MM, AD’05) performed at the podium of the UN during the during the closing ceremony of 2016 Youth Assembly at the UN.

Her stage began with performing ‘Sing for Solace, Peace and Hope’ for solo viola by Yoomi Paick (Composition, DM’08), and ended with Nclassic performing Holberg suite arranged by Yoomi Paick as well.

Namjoong Kim also was the first solo violist invited and performed at the General Assembly Hall of UN.

Brent Gault Releases Two New Books


gault books

Brent Gault  had two new books released this past spring. “Teaching General Music” (co-edited with Carlos Abril of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music) and “Listen Up! Fostering Musicianship Through Active Listening” were both released by Oxford University Press.

Brent Gault is professor of music education at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

He has taught elementary and early childhood music courses in Texas, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. He specializes in elementary general music education, early childhood music education, and Kodály-inspired methodology. He also has training in both the Orff and Dalcroze approaches to music education.

Gault has presented sessions and research at conferences of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, Dalcroze Society of America, International Kodály Society, International Society for Music Education, Organization of American Kodály Educators, and National Association for Music Education. In addition, he has served as a presenter and guest lecturer for colleges and music education organizations in the United States, Canada, China, and Ireland.

Articles by Gault have been published in various music education periodicals, including the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Educators Journal, General Music Today, Kodály Envoy, Orff Echo, and American Dalcroze Journal.

In addition to his duties with the Music Education Department, Gault serves as the program director for the Indiana University Children’s Choir, where he conducts the Allegro Choir. He is a past president of the Organization of American Kodály Educators.

John Fedchock Teaches at IU in Spring 2016

by A.J. O’Reilly, Tom Walsh, and Scott Gotschall


John FedchockIn the Spring of 2016, with Professor Brent Wallarab away on sabbatical, IU Jazz was thrilled to welcome two world-class composer/arrangers into our community: John Fedchock and Mike Holober. Each taught the jazz arranging class and rehearsed the top band. Fedchock made his home on the Indiana University campus for the first eight weeks of the semester and led the top Jacobs School of Music jazz ensemble in both of their concerts.


Here is a video of the IU Jazz Ensemble, directed by John Fedchock, performing his original composition and arrangement “Like It Is.”


“John Fedchock is one of the most accomplished big band composer/arrangers of the last thirty years,” extolled IU Jazz Studies chair Tom Walsh. “We were very fortunate to have him reside on campus to work with and get to know our students.”


Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Fedchock is a graduate of The Ohio State University with degrees in Music Education and Jazz Studies. He also holds a master’s degree in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Most recently, Fedchock was nominated for a Grammy for his track “You and the Night and the Music” on the album Like It Is. Fedchock maintains a busy schedule working with other musicians through his big band, sextet, and as a performer, producer, and clinician throughout the world.


Many followers of IU Jazz will remember John Fedchock as the featured artist on the 2015 Jazz Celebration concert.

Here is Fedchock performing his composition “Up and Running” at that concert.


Fedchock has spent decades as a trombonist, composer, and producer collaborating with a wide variety of artists, but is best-known for his work with the legendary Woody Herman Orchestra as well as the big bands of Louie Bellson, Gerry Mulligan, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra. Fedchock formed his own successful big band, the John Fedchock New York Big Band, which features his own compositions and arrangements performed by some of New York’s finest jazz musicians.


Reflecting on his time at IU, Fedchock said, “Teaching the arranging class was a fun experience for me. Although having taught arranging privately in the past, it was a challenge to put together a methodical course of study within my relatively short time at IU that could give students everything they’d need to progress forward.” He continued, “I really enjoyed unveiling each new concept and technique to the class, watching them take it in and learn how to implement it in their own personal way. There are a lot of rules in arranging, but my goal was to foster individuality. Seeing that come to fruition was very satisfying.”


Fedchock also enjoyed the friendly and inclusive atmosphere of Indiana University and surrounding Bloomington. “Perhaps due to growing up in the Midwest, I immediately felt comfortable with all the students I encountered,” said Fedchock. “All were warm and welcoming, and it was easy for me to foster a relaxed rapport. This made my experience as a teacher more enjoyable than I could have imagined.”


Fedchock spoke highly of the students in the top jazz ensemble. “This particular group was an exceptional pleasure to work with,” he said. “They did everything they could to give me exactly what I asked for… In essence, they all conducted themselves as true professionals, which tells me they will have great success at the next level.”


Aside from his time in the classroom and on the MAC stage, Fedchock had the opportunity to connect with the faculty. “In addition to the great students, I also enjoyed working among the fine jazz faculty at the Jacobs School of Music. It’s nice to be in an environment with one shared vision. This is not a common occurrence in many jazz programs,” he observed. “As a trombonist, it was also great to interact with some of the excellent brass faculty at the school.”


Fedchock also visited Bear’s Place on more than one occasion to hear live jazz. “Hearing the students perform was very inspiring, and it was also a surprise to discover that jazz music has a weekly home at Bear’s Place.  Very few jazz programs have somewhere in the community so close to school for students and faculty alike to work on their craft in a ‘real world’ setting.”


He summed up his experience at IU saying, “My experience at the Jacobs School of Music was more than I had hoped for. The overall level of musicianship throughout the program is outstanding, with everyone’s general mindset being one focused on excellence and professionalism.” He added, “Bloomington is a great town, and I felt at home right away.”


Learn more about John Fedchock on his website: http://www.johnfedchock.com



New Plummer Jazz Sextet Travels to Graz, Austria

by Scott Gotschall and Tom Walsh


The Plummer Group in GrazThis past spring the Jazz Studies department launched the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Plummer Jazz Sextet. The group is named for Paul Plummer, who gave a landmark gift in 2012 to support jazz activities in the Jacobs School of Music. Proceeds from the Plummer gift will support the activities of the group. The group was coached in spring 2016 by Dave Stryker, Adjunct Lecturer in Jazz Guitar. The student members of the group were Ken Johnston-trumpet, Matt Shugert-saxophone, John Sorsen-trombone, Jamaal Baptiste-piano, Quinn Sternberg-bass, and Jay Tibbitts-drums.

Over Spring Break, the Plummer Jazz Sextet traveled to Graz, Austria, as a guest ensemble at the Kunst Universität Graz (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz) in their Jazz Institute. This visit was the first in what will be an ongoing exchange between the Jazz Institute at KUG and the Jazz Studies department in the Jacobs School of Music. The Sextet was accompanied on the trip by Dave Stryker, as well as Jazz Piano Professor Luke Gillespie.

The week in Graz was filled with performances, classes, jam sessions, and opportunities to connect with KUG Jazz Institute students and faculty. The students at KUG come from approximately 20 different countries with some from as far away as Brazil.

The IU students quickly integrated with the KUG students on the first day. While attending a conducting exam for a master’s degree student, Plummer Sextet member Ken Johnston was pressed into service to fill an empty trumpet chair. The group then attended a combo rehearsal led by pianist Renato Chicco and the two groups mixed together to play music that each group was rehearsing.

Monday evening Dave Stryker performed with KUG faculty pianist Olaf Polzhein, two KUG students, and guest vocalist Sachal Vasandani at the WIST Auditorium, the on-campus venue for the KUG Jazz Institute. WIST has a unique feel among campus venues—a kind of “black box” theater with a bar attached. Reflecting on Professor Stryker’s performance and the atmosphere, Quinn Sternberg remarked, “It was a great set that included arrangements of standards as well as originals. In addition to the good music, the environment at the WIST was different from anything I had experienced on an American campus.”


Tuesday, Professor Stryker conducted a clinic with students from both schools. The KUG Professor of Jazz Guitar Guido Jeszenszky joined Stryker for several duets. Stryker also played duets with students, gave feedback on their performances, and answered questions.

Tuesday evening the Plummer Jazz Sextet took the stage at the WIST performing a concert of original compositions and arrangements by members of the group and Dave Stryker. The groups was enthusiastically received by the audience of community members and KUG students and faculty.

Wednesday the group was coached by KUG Professor of Jazz Trombone, Ed Neumeister. Students remarked how much they learned in just a single session. Matt Shugert commented, “It was one of the best jazz master classes I have observed or played in. In our three hours together, Ed gave great attention to the details of the music that we had been neglecting. He gave helpful feedback regarding our arrangements, ensemble playing, and improvising.”

Thursday night the IU ensemble attended a concert at the WIST by a quintet featuring New York City drummer Gregory Hutchinson. After the concert, the Plummer Jazz Sextet was the featured group at a late night jam session set in a small café in Graz. “The jam session had a really remarkable vibe to it,” said Sternberg, “The entire bar was packed with both students and audience members. It was a great atmosphere, and I found it inspiring to see so many students who were excited to partake in a late night jam.” Later in the evening Gregory Hutchinson and members of his quintet stopped in and joined the jam session which continued until 3 am. The combination of the intimate ambience of the café and the energy in the room from the students, other musicians, and lively audience made for a truly remarkable and unforgettable experience.

Throughout the week students had wonderful opportunities both on-campus and off. In addition to the clinics and performances, members of the Sextet had lessons with the KUG faculty. This gave them the invaluable experience of a different perspective on their playing in a one-on-one setting. Off-campus, they enjoyed the majesty of Graz, including an art museum, the Schlossberg (a castle atop a large hill), and of course the local delicacies.

Students said they were grateful both for the opportunity to travel and to have the chance to meet so many people from all over Europe. Matt Shugert noted, “We enjoyed talking with students from all over the world about music and more. It was great to hear them play and to play with them. The jazz institute has a great faculty with whom we played and studied quite a lot given our brief time in Graz. Students and faculty alike were very welcoming to us and involved us in whatever way they could.”

Dave Stryker summed up the value of this international experience for the students in the Plummer Jazz Sextet: “I enjoyed this trip to Austria with the Plummer combo. This is a great experience for our students to visit another country and meet, interact, attend classes and play with students from a different part of the world and experience their culture. On a personal level I enjoyed working with the Graz guitarists, sharing some of my ideas, as well as performing a couple songs that evening with the Plummer Combo.  Indiana University was well-represented by these fine students, and I know they had a great experience, as did I.”

Remembering David Baker

by Scott Gotschall


ALUMNI RECEPTION: Celebrating David Baker’s 50th Year at IUOn March 26th, 2016, the Jacobs School of Music lost long-time faculty member David Baker, Chair Emeritus of the IU Jazz Studies Department. He was in his fiftieth year on faculty. Words cannot begin to express the extent to which we miss his intellect, dedication, and humor.

While much has been said in publications ranging from the Indiana Daily Student to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, perhaps the most personal reflections have come from Professor Baker’s former students. IU Jazz Studies chair Tom Walsh set up a Facebook group titled “Remembering David Baker,” in which many of the 900-plus members have shared their reflections, memories, and homages to the late mentor. The Jacobs School of Music has also created a “Remembrances” page where visitors are encouraged to post their tributes.  A select few entries appear at the end of this article.

As we strive to honor David Baker’s life’s work as a performer, composer, author, and educator, we can recognize that it is through each of us —how he inspired us and how we then inspire others — that his legacy lives on. We will include information about an upcoming celebration of David’s life and music in our next newsletter later this month.

Read the Jacobs School of Music’s press release about David Baker here.


From Remembering David Baker on facebook:

His incredible generosity made me a better teacher. – Laura Rexroth

He truly took time to listen to you, to honestly care about you and your successes and challenges.  – Michael Tracy

 As large as his pedigree was, that was dwarfed by the size of his heart and generosity. – Mike Reifenberg

We will miss having his on-going contributions, but he has left the world so rich and with such a wonderful legacy. – Lynn Baker

His prodigious memory aside (I mean 30+ years and he still remembers me?!?), he was a generous spirit, a true mensch, a connection to jazz history, a brilliant mind that codified and structured the inner workings of jazz; and was able to put it all into context – and play it – and did I mention teach it?  – Chris Bell

Whether this was with his stars or just some lost, flakey freshman kid, David always seemed to know what to say to sort of gas up the tank. – Joe Auty

David seemed to have a gift for telling exactly what people needed and when. He seemed to know exactly when to be hard on you and when to lift you up. – Justin Mabrey

 He is an incredible genius and I am honored to have known him and been touched by his greatness.  – Mary Jo Papich

After every encounter with David, I was motivated to go back and try to accomplish more than I had before. His work ethic and his intellect were an inspiration. – Edwin Lacy

He was a wonderful teacher. His words will inspire me for the rest of my life. – Martha Dycus

For the last few years I have thought a lot about what students get from working with David, and the word that I think sums it up is encouragement. He was always helping people believe they can do more than they thought they could do. – Tom Walsh

Performance highlights summer piano workshop

A highlight of the Edward Auer Summer Piano Workshop was Wednesday evening’s guest recital, given in Auer Hall by Winston Choi who, not so many years ago, earned two degrees from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

A winner of major keyboard competitions and very active performer in recital and with orchestras cross-country, Choi also serves as head of piano studies at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, a division of Roosevelt University.

He happens to be a highly gifted pianist, having studied with two outstanding teachers: Menahem Pressler at IU and Ursula Oppens at Northwestern. His command of the instrument is extraordinary, and he exhibited it from beginning through encore on Wednesday, focusing heavily on the impressionism of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

As a commissioner and promoter of contemporary music, Choi also included two recent compositions. One is a 20-minute piece premiered last year, “Europa,” by Choi’s close friend and fellow IU slum, Jonathan Howard Katz (a commission). The other is “Agalma” (a promotion), written in 2008 by French composer Jacques Lenot.

The whole of the concert must have been taxing, to say the least. But Choi seemed energized by the self-imposed challenge. He spoke in behalf of the contemporary works and, when Katz’s “Europa” was about to be played, he first switched the spotlight to Katz for a composer’s perspective. The title “Europa,” he explained, refers to Jupiter’s moon, “one of the prime candidates for the existence of extraterrestrial water,” a substance that apparently interests the composer for its qualities and mysterious presence here on earth as well as on that distant orb. The music, heavy on ripples and scales, suggests something liquid and a touch elusive. And if you can imagine the piano works of Debussy as updated a century in dissonance and stylistic quirks, you might come close to capturing the sounds so impressively made manifest by Choi.

Lenot’s “Agalma” approximates so much of the music composed several decades ago featuring plinks, plunks, short trills, if I remember correctly, and carefully timed silences as punctuation. It’s not music this reviewer particularly cares for. Choi played it with all the necessary skill and attention to detail, but he didn’t win me over.

From the works of Debussy, Choi chose the seriously challenging Series 2 of “Images” and the very popular “Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune.” Whatever was called for – transparent textures, fluid arpeggios, floating in-the-air sonorities, flutters and ripples – Choi produced with elegance. His strong technique and his sense for control made a listener’s journey a joyful privilege.

The similar demands and qualities called for in Ravel’s piano music — “Jeux d’Eau” (“Play of the Water”) and “Gaspard e la Nuit,” three musical poems based on literary poems by the French writer Louis Bertrand – also profited from Choi’s expert pianism and the introspective and expressive performance he added. Responding to enthusiastic applause, Choi returned to the stage to perform an encore, another work requiring finger acrobatics, Debussy’s Ballade. Radiantly beautiful it was.

Copyright Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer