The Liberation Music Collective

by Scott Gotschall

Students in the Jacobs School of Music Jazz Studies Department benefit from a world class education and working with faculty at the top of their field. An equally important benefit is being in an environment of talented peers with diverse musical interests and the opportunity to collaborate with these peers. One student group that has now been together for more than a year and has displayed discipline and creativity in both their music and their message is the Liberation Music Collective. Founded as a musical outlet to process recent events in Ferguson, MO and the Black Lives Matter movement, the LMC was formed with an entrepreneurial spirit and social awareness that echoes the significant statements of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra.

The Liberation Music Collective was founded in 2015 by bassist and vocalist Hannah Fidler, and trumpeter Matt Riggen. In their own words:

Hannah Fidler

Hannah Fidler

We bring a fresh 21st-century approach to the tradition of protest music in jazz, following in the footsteps of Charlie Haden, Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and many others. In addition to the jazz canon, we draw from the plurality of genres present in America, including hip-hop, Afro-Cuban music, Sacred Harp hymns, Islamic liturgy, and post-modern classical music. By focusing on social issues and embracing this plurality of styles within a jazz context, we hope to bring jazz back into the socially provocative music of our era.

In their beginning stages, the LMC looked to IU Jazz Professor Wayne Wallace as a mentor. A band leader himself with decades of experience, Wallace also runs his own record label, Patois Records. With Wallace’s guidance the initial idea started to take form. Wallace embraces the idea of music as social commentary that Fidler and Riggen are presenting. He notes, “Improvisational music constantly looks for inspiration from, not only new ideas, but re-examining the roots of what has come before. I believe this is the direction that young jazz musicians are embracing wholeheartedly. The Liberation Music Collective is a prime example of this growing movement.”

Matt Riggen

Matt Riggen

Liberation Music Collective released their first album, Siglo XXI, in 2015, and they have been performing regularly in Bloomington and beyond, spreading their music and their message. Last February, LMC collaborated with Yaël Ksander and the Brown County Writers, Readers and Poets Society (WRAPS) for their Utopia project, which explored the history of “perfect communities” that were founded in Indiana. Fidler remarked that she particularly enjoyed the experience, “It was phenomenal to work with Yaël Ksander and the writers from WRAPS. That was a very fruitful collaboration. I think there was also something uniquely rewarding about staging a full-length jazz drama.” The Utopia project was also sponsored by Project Jumpstart within the Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development at the Jacobs School of Music. Alain Barker, the director of OECD, also mentors the group.

Liberation Music Collective

The Liberation Music Collective has also found the surrounding community to be supportive of their performances. Some of the venues LMC has been featured include the Jazz Fables series at Bear’s Place, Bloomington Cooperative Living (as part of a fundraiser for Middle Way House Domestic Violence Shelter), Merriman’s Playhouse in South Bend, IN, the B’town Jazzfest, IU’s First Thursdays Arts & Humanities Festival, and The Blockhouse.

Currently, the group is filming their first music video, planning to work with a local high school running a composition workshop, composing their own jazz suite about the election, and planning to record their second album. To stay informed on the group’s performances, visit their website and their Facebook page. Hear the Liberation Music Collective and learn more about their music on their Youtube channel.

New Release: Basically Baker, Vol. 2: The Big Band Music of David Baker

by Scott Gotschall

Basically Baker, Vol. 2: The Big Band Music of David Baker, the latest CD from the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, was released September 23 on Patois Records. A sequel to the celebrated 2007 release Basically Baker, the new double-CD album received a four-star review in December issue of DownBeat Magazine and made the list of Best Albums of 2016 in the January 2017 issue. Doug Ramsey selected it for his “Monday Recommendation” on his Rifftides blog on November 7, and it broke into the top 50 of the JazzWeek radio charts for November 14, reaching number 33 on the December 5 chart. The album is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Basically Baker 2Basically Baker, Vol. 2 features ten of David Baker’s original compositions plus his arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Bebop” performed by a band that includes many IU Jazz faculty and alums. The band was joined by New York saxophonist Rich Perry and lead trumpeter Tony Kadleck. Guest soloists include IU alum Randy Brecker and faculty members Wayne Wallace and Dave Stryker. The project is funded in part through Indiegogo and proceeds from sales of the album will go to help support the David N. Baker Scholarship fund to benefit students of the Jacobs School of Music Jazz Studies Program.

The impetus for the first Basically Baker album was the fact that, although David Baker had composed hundreds of pieces for big band, very little of that repertoire had ever been recorded or even heard outside of the Bloomington campus. The desire to “get the music out there” led to recording Basically Baker, which was named by Downbeat one of the top 100 albums of the 2000s.

The current album has a somewhat different but no less monumental purpose – to honor David Baker himself. After Baker’s passing in March, Brent Wallarab and Mark Buselli wanted to honor the man and his music. Wallarab spent a month in the archives of the Jacobs School of Music library combing through recordings of Baker’s student big bands from the past five decades. The songs that were eventually chosen mostly came from between 1965 and 1975. These, says Wallarab, represent Baker at perhaps his most experimental. Three compositions – “Georgia Peach” (based on “Sweet Georgia Brown”), “Harlem Pipes” (a tribute to Baker’s friend and jazz pianist Marian McPartland), and “Kirsten’s First Song” (written in 1990 for his granddaughter) – represent disparate styles yet are all equally remarkable and brilliant songs featured on the album.

Wallarab noted during the preparation and recording of the first Basically Baker album the level of trust Baker placed in him and his band. With the new project, David’s wife, Lida, was involved in every aspect of the process. “As humbling and flattering was the trust David placed in us to produce the first recording, we still made sure to run every decision by him to get his blessing. Lida was an incredible source of advice and guidance for Volume 2 and we cannot underestimate the value of her intimate insight into David’s music.” Always the educator, David Baker helped inspire the confidence throughout the process of creating Basically Baker, allowing for creative, superior, and unique results. For Basically Baker Vol.2, Lida Baker put the same amount of faith in the musicians, all of whom were eager to honor the educator and composer so many of them had known, studied under, and worked with.

The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra in the studio

The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra in the studio

Perhaps the most remarkable part of Basically Baker 2 (aside from the music itself), is not only the opportunity to honor David Baker and his musical compositions, but also the musicians he educated and inspired in the five decades he taught at Indiana University. Wallarab recounts looking around the recording studio, and noticing something extraordinary, “It’s not unusual to look at a group of musicians and see vast age differences. In fact, one of the unique aspects of the music business is the tradition of multiple generations working together as peers. What was unique about this situation however, was that this wide age spread, from a trombonist in his early 20’s to veterans in their 70’s, were all students or colleagues of David Baker’s. It’s amazing to know not only how many generations were directly influenced by him, but how many more will continue to be touched by his gifts through the thousands of artist teachers he produced.” David Baker lives on not only through the music on Basically Baker 2, but also through the musicians that continue to educate and make music themselves.


Basically Baker, Vol. 2 Personnel:

Saxophones: Tom Walsh, Bill Sears, Rich Perry, Rob Dixon, Ned Boyd

Trombones: Tim Coffman, Freddie Mendoza, Brennan Johns, Rich Dole

Horn: Celeste Holler   Tuba: Dan Perantoni

Trumpets: Tony Kadleck, Scott Belck, Graham Breedlove, Jeff Conrad, Mark Buselli, Pat Harbison

Piano: Luke Gillespie   Bass: Jeremy Allen   Drums: Steve Houghton

Vibes: Mitch Shiner  Celeste: Monika Herzig

Guest Soloists: Randy Brecker, trumpet; Dave Stryker, guitar


Basically Baker, Vol. 2 Track List:

Disc 1

  1. The Harlem Pipes
  2. The Georgia Peach
  3. Walt’s Barbershop
  4. Soft Summer Rain
  5. Black Thursday
  6. Shima 13

Disc 2

  1. Bebop
  2. Honesty
  3. 25th and Martindale
  4. Kirsten’s First Song
  5. Terrible T

IU Jazz Welcomes Dr. Jeremy Fox to Lead IU Vocal Jazz Ensembles

by Scott Gotschall

The IU Jazz Studies Department and Jacobs School of Music welcomed Dr. Jeremy Fox this fall as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Vocal Jazz. Jeremy brings a depth and understanding of vocal jazz ensemble performance and arranging that is highly regarded. We were able to “sit down” with him and further explore his initial thoughts, expectations, and experiences on campus and in Bloomington.

Dr. Jeremy Fox

Dr. Jeremy Fox

Grammy-nominated Dr. Jeremy Fox is a highly in-demand clinician, and has presented clinics and served as guest conductor of All-State and Honor choral and instrumental ensembles throughout the U.S. and Canada.  He earned his B.M. degree in Piano-Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University, and his M.M. and D.M.A. in Jazz Composition from the University of Miami.

Jeremy has received 10 awards from Downbeat magazine, including Best Written Song, Best Arrangement, Studio Engineering, and for his small vocal ensemble. Jeremy’s arrangements are published with Sound Music Publications, UNC Jazz Press, Alfred Music, as well as on his website.  He has written for such artists as John Secada, Theo Bleckmann, Cadence, m-pact, Terence Blanchard, and Metropolitan Opera singers Eric Owens and Denyce Graves.

Jeremy’s inaugural album “With Love” (Jazzbill Records) was released on iTunes and Amazon in April 2014 to rave reviews (All About Jazz ,  Jazz Times).  It features his big band and orchestral arrangements for a phenomenal line-up of singers, including Rose Max and Ramatis Moraes, Kevin Mahogany, Kate Reid, Kate McGarry, Lauren Kinhan and Peter Eldridge (from the New York Voices), Anders Edenroth, Derek Fawcett, Wendy Pedersen, and Sunny Wilkinson.


I understand the two vocal jazz ensembles you lead in the Jacobs School of Music just performed their first concert, which featured Sunny Wilkinson, on November 3rd. How do you feel things are going with the groups?

JF: Both Vocal Jazz Ensemble 1 and IUnison hit their peak in our Fall Concert with Sunny Wilkinson, who was a huge inspiration to the singers.  All semester, I have thrown a steady stream of challenging literature in front of each ensemble, and I couldn’t be prouder of their individual and collective growth so far.  It aided the ensembles to have had a couple of informal performances earlier in the semester, such as singing for the Boys & Girls Club in Ellettsville. Now that their Fall Concert has passed, the rest of the semester is being spent in the studio to professionally record some of their repertoire.  This serves as a powerful educational tool for the students, allowing them to re-create their music in a manner other than traditional performance.​


What have you been doing professionally prior to joining the IU Jacobs School of Music faculty (performing/recording/writing/teaching)?

JF: For eight years, I co-led the collegiate music program at The School for Music Vocations in Creston, Iowa.  There I directed and wrote for choral, vocal jazz, and instrumental ensembles – and taught classes in jazz literature, recording studio production, Baroque and 20th-century music theory, instrumental and vocal arranging, and jazz piano.  I then returned to the University of Miami to earn a doctorate in Jazz Composition, with a concentration in vocal jazz.  During this time, I also released my debut album project called “With Love” of my arrangements for jazz singers – which was lucky to be awarded a nomination in “Best Arrangement for Instruments and Vocals” at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.  The past few years, I have been busy writing commissions for professional and scholastic ensembles, serving as a clinician at international festivals, and conducting All-State and Honor ensembles.  Also, since 2008, I have co-directed a summer Jazz Harmony Retreat for high school and college music directors – and for 14 years, have directed a series of vocal jazz summer camps around the United States and Canada.


What are your first impressions of teaching at the Jacobs School of Music? How are you enjoying working with the vocal jazz ensembles?

JF: I am enjoying every single day here.  The faculty (both in and outside of the jazz department) have been so cordial to me. And the jazz voice students at the Jacobs School of Music are uniquely passionate, hard-working, and extremely talented.  They seem to realize that being here is both an honor and a responsibility – a view that I share with them.  More importantly, the students seem to be acting on that realization every day.  I look forward to helping these students move forward in their education, and help them pave the way for their future successes.  For the vocal jazz ensembles, I hope to honor the past by setting the bar continually higher each day.  It is important to me that I do everything possible to enable this art form to flourish at Indiana University.  Though the IU vocal jazz ensembles as they stand are only in their fifth year, there is no reason why Jacobs should not be on par quality-wise with the most successful and longstanding collegiate vocal jazz ensembles around the country.


Do you plan to write for the vocal jazz ensembles? How has Bloomington been advantageous for your composition work?

JF: Yes, some of my newest arrangements are among the pieces the vocal jazz ensembles are singing.  And now that the craziness from the start of the school year has begun to subside, I plan to keep writing new pieces for each ensemble.  I also enjoy writing choral and orchestral pieces, and hope to find outlets for that as well while I am here, perhaps collaborating with other faculty members or ensembles.  It is great fun to stretch the boundaries of music-making through these types of collaborations!


How are you enjoying Bloomington?

JF: My fiancée Kathryn and I enjoy it – we love the overall warmth of everyone here.  We also enjoy the cultural offerings on and off campus, and the fantastic coffeeshops and restaurants.  My childhood was spent in Fort Wayne, though admittedly it has been over 20 years since I last lived in this state.  It may sound cliché, but it really is nice to be back home again in Indiana!


Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JF: If people would like to keep track of vocal jazz at the Jacobs School of Music, they should feel free to follow us on social media through our “Vocal Jazz at IU Jacobs School of Music” Facebook page.

Saxophonist Walter Smith III Joins IU Jazz Faculty

by Scott Gotschall

This fall the IU Jazz Studies Department and Jacobs School of Music welcomed saxophonist Walter Smith III to its faculty as an Associate Professor. Smith brings a background in jazz performance and education that has long been a proud tradition of the department. We were able to “sit down” with him and further explore his initial thoughts, expectations, and experiences on campus and in Bloomington.

Walter Smith III

Walter Smith III

Smith, a young gun on the scene at age 34, is widely recognized as an adept performer, accomplished composer, and inspired educator. His most recent album, Still Casual, his fourth as a leader, was released to great critical acclaim (AllAboutJazz , Ottawa Citizen) and it became a top-10 best seller on iTunes.

In the jazz tradition, Smith has developed under the wings of many of the music’s greats. He has been a member of several legendary groups (recording and/or touring), including the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, Terence Blanchard Quintet, Eric Harland’s Voyager Band, Jason Moran’s In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, Christian McBride Situation band, Christian Scott group, and Sean Jones Quintet.

Smith has performed all over the world participating in numerous international festivals as well as famed venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He has shared the stage and/or appeared on recordings with many jazz and pop notables, including Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, Lauren Hill, Destiny’s Child, Snarky Puppy, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lynne Carrington, and a host of others. To date, he has appeared on over 100 recordings that are released worldwide.

Smith is originally from Houston, Texas, where he attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.  He went on to earn a music education degree from Berklee College of Music, Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, and Graduate Certificate in Performance from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.


What have you been doing professionally prior to joining the IU Jacobs School of Music faculty (performing/recording/teaching)?

WS: Prior to joining the Jacobs School of Music, I have been touring internationally about 10 months/year with several different groups including a group that I lead. We’ve toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, South America and of course, North America. Still have to get down to Antarctica. I’ve been involved in a lot of recording projects (over 100 at this point) as well as a few movie scores with the last one being the remake of Annie. I released my last album as a leader two years ago (my fourth as a leader) and I’m planning to record a new project this spring.

In addition to the performance aspect of my life which has been pretty much all encompassing, I’ve managed to hold a few adjunct teaching positions, most recently at the Arts Academy in Los Angeles and Cal State University Los Angeles. I’ve also been an artist in residence at many universities around the world, most recently at UNC Chapel Hill, Univ. of Kansas, USC, Siena Jazz Seminar (Italy), Sibelius School of Music (Finland), and Edith Cowen University (Australia).


What are your first impressions of teaching at the Jacobs School of Music?

WS: The Jacobs School of Music is a very unique place. Besides the truly exceptional faculty with so many amazing accomplishments, it has the feel of a conservatory within a University. That’s not a small accomplishment because all of the students are held to a standard that is much higher than other places and I like the feeling that everyone involved, both faculty and students, are working tirelessly to achieve a standard of excellence. Everyone is overly busy, but really motivated to do their best in every aspect. It really is an inspiring environment.


How are you enjoying working with the Plummer Jazz Sextet?

WS: The Plummer Jazz Sextet represents everything that is great about working in Jazz Education. Students that are highly motivated to work and are really showing up to each rehearsal ready to improve as an ensemble and individuals. Anything that’s suggested or asked of them becomes a reality very quickly. I’ve worked with a lot of students that say they are working hard and would like to have a career in music, but these students are showing evidence of that dedication to excellence. I’m excited to see where we are at the end of the year because they’ve grown so much in just the first two months of school.


How are you enjoying Bloomington?

My Bloomington experience, thus far, has centered around being in the East Studio Building all day! I’ve been to a few great restaurants, but I’m still getting acclimated to my teaching load and finding the hours early in the morning or late at night to practice and compose, so I expect as the year goes on I’ll get to experience more that the city has to offer.

For now, I can see Mother Bear’s Pizza from my studio and it looks like people are enjoying it!


To learn more about Walter Smith III and hear some of his music, check out his web page.

Weekly Digest – November 28


How NPR’s Intimate Concert Series Earned a Cult Following
Vox: Zachary Crockett
Over eight years, more than 550 musical acts have played one the show, which has attracted a cult following on the internet, partly thanks to its musical curation — a peculiar mix of indie rock, hip-hop, world music, and jazz — but more so because of its authenticity.


New York City to Dancers: Immigrants Welcome Here
Dance Magazine: Wendy Perron
Immigration has been a hot topic in this election, but in the dance world it’s a no-brainer. Perron recently participated in a panel titled “Cultural Identity and Creative Process,” that turned into a passionate discussion about immigration and shifting perceptions of whiteness during the recent election.

A Mental Makeover for Classical Music
Arts Professional: James Fleury
Tired of seeing classical music magazines filled with middle-aged white faces, James Fleury proposes four ‘mental makeovers’ that could help increase diversity in the sector.

What Are the Chances? Success in the Arts in the 21st Century
LA Review of Books: Alexis Clements
All signs point to a reality in which no artist, no matter how famous or successful, spends 100 percent of their time on their art, nor do they earn 100 percent of their income from their art alone over the course of their entire career.

Remember When ‘Figaro’ Was Set in Trump Tower? NY Times: Michael Cooper Peter Sellars’s 1988 staging of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” happened to be set on the 52nd floor of Trump Tower, a symbol of wealth and excess and power in an opera about inequality.

‘La La Land’ Makes Musicals Matter Again
NY Times: Manohla Dargisnov
In “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle’s has a shot at something that has eluded auteurist titans like Peter Bogdanovich and Francis Ford Coppola: to make musicals matter again.


The Strike’s Over! Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Musicians Reach 5-Year Contract Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Bob Batz
The musicians, who went on strike Sept. 30, on Wednesday ratified a new five-year contract that includes a 10.5 percent pay cut in the first year, but thanks to a contribution from an anonymous donor, the actual pay cut will be 7.5 percent. Wages will be restored to pre-strike levels in the fifth year.

Composer Louis Andriessen Receives Major NY Phil Prize
NY Times: Michael Cooper
The award comes with $200,000 and a commission to write a new work for the Philharmonic, which Mr. van Zweden will conduct during his inaugural season.

Judge allows “We Shall Overcome” Lawsuit to Move Forward
Daniel Adrian Sanchez, Digital Music News
Earlier this year, We Shall Overcome Foundation filed a lawsuit against Warner/Chappell to free the song We Shall Overcome. This song is actually a 19th century spiritual, according to the foundation. Pete Seeger’s version copyrighted in 1960 and 1963 includes only minor alterations.

Your Guide to a Met Opera Milestone
NY Times: Zachary Lewis
Consider this a primer on everything you need to know about one of the most important events of the fall season: the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s “L’Amour de Loin” on Thursday, Dec. 1.

Star Couple Leaves Miami’s Top Ballet Troupe and Starts Their Own
Miami Herald: C.M. Guerrerio
Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg, popular leading dancers at Miami City Ballet for 15 years, retired from the company last spring. Now they hope to turn their experience and reputation, their connections in Miami and the dance world and their appeal as a culturally mixed, loving married couple whose relationship lit up their performances in “Giselle” and “Romeo and Juliet” to make their new group, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, a success.

Top Rolling Stone editor quits after 20 years to join Amazon Music
Tim Ingham, Music Business Worldwide
The transfer of talented ‘old media’ creatives to streaming services continues. Rolling Stone Executive Editor Nathan Brackett has this month joined Amazon Music as Head Of Editorial.

Manager Tries to Raise Songwriter Royalties, Gets Sued by 10,000 Radio Stations
Digital Music News: Paul Resnikoff
Irving Azoff thinks that songwriters are getting forced to accept sub-standard royalties from radio stations.  Now, he’s getting sued by 10,000 of them.

Letter from Chicago: The City is Second to None for New Music
San Francisco Classical Voice: Wynne Delacoma
Chicago doesn’t usually underestimate its own importance. Sometimes, however, the city has benefitted mightily from residents willing to fly below the radar. Something equally dramatic is happening right now in classical music. But bubbling persistently below the surface is one of the most vibrant communities for contemporary music in the country, driven by hundreds of young composers, performers and presenters of wildly varying aesthetic persuasions.


Huge Drop in Funding for UK Arts as Lottery Plummets
Arts Professional
Any decline in Lottery revenues will be of serious concern to Arts Council England (ACE), which in 2014 announced it would start using Lottery funds to provide core funding for some of its National Portfolio Organizations.

Lost Work by Stravinsky Restored
Classical Music: Elinor Cooper
Stravinsky’s Funeral Song receives its first performance in 107 years. The 12-minute work for symphony orchestra was written when Stravinsky was just 26, in memory of his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov.

Is there a Lost Mozart Flute Concerto?
Huttiyet Daily News
The seventh International Şefika Kutluer Festival, organized under the name of Turkish flutist Şefika Kutluer, claims to be presenting Mozart’s “Wendling Flute Concerto,” which had been kept concealed for 239 years.

The Woman Who Has Transformed English National Ballet
NY Times: Roslyn Sulcas
Artistic director, star ballerina, lobbyist, wrangler, psychologist, spokeswoman. Tamara Rojo, the artistic director of English National Ballet, is one busy woman.

Kick-Ass Beats from Korea’s Countryside Ozy Magazine: Carl Pettit Samulnori could be described as the pulse of the Korean people. Over the years, this drumming art form has evolved from humble agrarian roots into a modern — and increasingly global — expression of natural movement and rhythms.


Ticket Giveaways for Teens Might Do the Trick
The Stage: James Doeser
Countless initiatives (and millions of pounds) have been spent trying to shift the demographic profile of arts audiences and workers in the sector. They have remained stubbornly white and well-off. A new program in Italy might just do the trick.

11 Skills that Differentiate Successful Entrepreneurs from Organizational Leaders Quartz A new study out of Harvard Business School (HBS), however, suggests we may be incorrectly assessing the qualities of entrepreneurs.

Your live show is the best music marketing tool – just follow the numbers
Wade Sutton, Disc Makers Blog
Live shows are underdeveloped as a music marketing tool by most artists. You need to track numbers to understand what’s working from a marketing perspective.

SoundExchange paid out $264M in Q3 – its biggest quarter in two years
Music Business Worldwide: Tim Ingham
SoundExchange just paid out more than quarter of a billion dollars to recorded music rights holders – its biggest three-month distribution in two years.


A Mozart Meltdown
Studio Muzik2m
Enjoy this wonderful rendition of Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, performed by Yuja Wang as an encore (and can you confirm that the concertmaster is none other than JSoM alumnus, Noah Bendix-Balgley?)

Weekly Digest – November 21


US Orchestras Are Too Important to Fail
USA Today: Jonathan Kaledin
Taking American orchestra “exceptionalism” into the 21st century now requires a complete rethinking of the role our federal government plays in providing financial support for these institutions.

It’s Official: Many Orchestras Are Now Charities
NY Times: Michael Cooper
There is a stark reality increasingly facing American orchestras: They are now charities, relying more, on average, on philanthropy than on the ticket sales that used to buttress them.

Read additional news on US Orchestras in the NATIONAL section below.


A small selections of responses from the music and arts world about the impact of the recent presidential elections:


Why Our Brains Respond Differently to Classical Music
Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard
Chinese researchers report even a few moments of opera produce a thoughtful, empathetic response.

Why it’s Time to Completely, Totally, Finally Give Up on Economic Impact Studies in the Arts
Michael Rushton, For What It’s Worth/an ArtsJournal Blog
Economic impact studies reduce the arts to the level of every other sector in the economy: one that hires people, sells things, earns people income. There is no argument for public support anywhere in those ordinary facts of life.

There is No Such Thing as Western Civilization
The Guardian: Kwame Anthony Appiah
The values of liberty, tolerance and rational inquiry are not the birthright of a single culture. In fact, the very notion of something called ‘western culture’ is a modern invention

Arts Education…Saved My Life
WFMT: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda has impacted many lives through his Pulitzer Prize-winning work Hamilton: An American Musical. Recently, Miranda revealed how the arts have impacted him, saying that arts education, “saved my life.”

Decolonizing Our Music
NewMusicBox: Gary Ingle
This essay was presented, in a slightly different form, as the final keynote address at the “Decolonizing Music” conference presented by the Music Council of the Three Americas (Consejo de la música de las Tres Americas – COMTA) at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico in San Juan.

Is Rock ’n’ Roll Dead, or Just Old?
NY Times: Bill Flanagan
Rock is now where jazz was in the early 1980s. Its form is mostly fixed. From Louis Armstrong in the 1920s to Duke Ellington in the ’30s to Charlie Parker in the ’50s to Miles Davis in the ’60s, jazz evolved at superspeed and never looked over its shoulder.


Women in the Arts Get Paid Less Too
Pacific Standard: Tom Jacobs
But they have one advantage over their counterparts in other fields: no motherhood penalty.

South Dakota Symphony Receives Major Award for Community Engagement
The highly-coveted Bush Prize for Community Innovation amounts to a quarter of the orchestra’s annual budget!

St. Louis Symphony Sees Total Revenue Rise
St. Louis Business Journal
The St. Louis Symphony saw its total operating revenue for fiscal 2016, ended Aug. 31, rise to $28.4 million, officials said Monday. That’s up from $26.6 million in fiscal 2015.

Pittsburgh Symphony Continues it’s Fundraising Amid the Strike
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Elizabeth Bloom
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s work stoppage is now more than six weeks old, and even as seats at Heinz Hall remain empty, the orchestra’s administration is trying to fill the coffers

Debora L. Spar, Barnard President, to Lead Lincoln Center
New York Times: Michael Cooper
Lincoln Center, which went through a messy shake-up at the top last spring just as its long-delayed project to renovate David Geffen Hall was beginning to take shape, is turning to academia for its next leader.

Things Get Worse at the Boston Globe and Elsewhere — More Arts Criticism Bites the Dust
The Arts Fuse: Bill Marx
In his November 9th piece for Deadline Hollywood, Jeremy Gerard reports that the bottom is falling out for serious arts criticism at The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

New York Philharmonic’s Next Leader Gives a Taste of Things to Come
NY Times: Anthony Tommasini
Great anticipation hovered over Thursday evening’s New York Philharmonic concert at David Geffen Hall. It was the first program to be led by the Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden since the announcement in January that he would succeed Alan Gilbert as music director.

Jeremy Denk and His Piano Take a 600-Year Tour
NY Times: Anthony Tommasini
“Medieval to Modern,” a program he presented at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday, included 80 minutes of music, with no breaks: 23 works spanning 600 years, from a lament by the 14th-century French composer Guillaume de Machaut to an obsessive 1985 étude by Gyorgy Ligeti.

Music Composer For ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Sues Australian Who Created “A Trumpwork Orange’ Parody Trailer
Timothy Geigner, TechDirt
One of the tests for fair use as it pertains to copyright is the impact that the use of a work has upon the original. While this is but one of four tests used, it is arguably the most important when it comes to advising a rights holder.


Making Opera Relevant to Our Times, Beyond Pure Entertainment
The Irish Times: Lara Marlowe
Stéphane Lissner, the director of the French national opera, is going all out to recruit new opera-lovers.

The Woman Who Has Transformed English National Ballet
NY Times: Roslyn Sulcas
Ms. Rojo, 42, a Spanish-born former Royal Ballet principal dancer, has been in her current job for four years, and she has made a startling difference to English National Ballet.

‘Digital dance’ World First for Scottish Ballet
The National: Kirsteen Paterson
The inaugural digital season – said to be the first time a ballet company has curated a month-long program of projects made for the format – aims to explore “a new way to present dance” and features “pioneering” projects.

How Did South Korea Become a Classical Music Powerhouse?
KQED: Elijah Ho
On San Francisco Symphony’s First Trip to Korea, a Family Legacy Comes Full Circle.

Connecting The UK Arts With Industry
Anna Scott, Arts Professional
A consortium of Scotland’s universities and art schools place researchers within arts and cultural organizations.

International Activity Financially ‘Worth It’ for UK Arts Organizations
Liz Hill, Arts Professional
Over half of Arts Council England’s NPOs are reaping rewards working internationally, but larger organizations and those based in London tend to benefit most financially.


Sofar Sounds’ Intimate Shows Feature Local Musicians in Cities Around the Globe
Hannah Huynh, The Observer (video)
Sofar Sounds hosts intimate, stripped-down concerts, and each performance showcases local musicians in cities around the world. Whether it’s been live in New York or streamed on their website, the site has featured incredible musicians.

Social Media Content Management for Musicians
Music Think Tank
You’ve decided how you want to brand yourself online. You’ve created your band’s social media pages. You’re posting regularly, and still, you’re not seeing results. The solution: content planning.

How to Set an Achievable Crowdfunding Goal
Nathan Zebedeo, Fractured Atlas
When you’re setting up a crowdfunding campaign, one of the first decisions that you’ll make is setting your goal, the amount of money that you want to raise. This decision can have far-reaching consequences and is often where the campaign lives or dies.

Opera Drops Its Scruples, Allows Millennials to Tweet During the Show
The Wall Street Journal: Jennifer Levitz
Theaters create ‘tweet seats’ for the itchy fingered; ‘this orchestration is DOPE’


A Musical Response to The Election: Bach Suites
TED Fellow, Joshua Roman (video)
Principle cellist of the Seattle Symphony offered all six Bach suites for solo cello – and received a million views before the week was out.

Canadian Guitarists Take Top Spots in Indiana Competition


The 7th Indiana International Guitar Festival and competition was held on October 22nd and 23rd on the campus of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, and once again it proved to be a resounding success, with the competitions particularly impressive this year. The three divisions featured a total of 37 competitors—the Open Division had 24 contestants from numerous countries, such as Mexico, Chile, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, and China, as well as guitarists from ten different U.S. states. The Youth and Senior Youth divisions featured 13 talented young players.The first prize of the Open Division was shared by two Canadian guitarists, Steve Cowan and Stephen Lochbaum; both received a cash prize and a record deal with Spain’s prominent record label EMEC Discos label. Both guitarists are already quite well-established: Cowan recently released a fine CD, Pour Guitare, devoted entirely to compositions by contemporary Canadian composers. And the versatile Lochbaum is a multiple competition winner who is pursuing his doctorate at the University of North Texas. The third prize in Indiana went to Austin Wahl and the fourth prize to Henry Johnston.

guitar 2

Judges and Open division winners (from left to right): Atanas Tzvetkov, Elzbieta Szmyt, Luke Gillespie, Elizabeth Wright, Henry Johnston, Austin Wahl, Steve Cowan, Stephen Lochbaum, Ernesto Bitetti, and Agustin Maruri.

guitar 3


guitar 4


Open Division Winners: Stephen Lochbaum (top) and Steve Cowan 

The Youth Division featured guitarists between the ages of 14 and 18, and the first prize went to Aytahn Benavi, second to Nolan Harvel, third to Catherine Elmer, and fourth to Liam Hedrick. The winner of the Junior Youth Division was Gwenyth Aggeler, while the second prize was offered to Ian Tubbs, the third and fourth prizes went respectively to Nick Bonn and Alexander Elko.

Parallel to the competitions, the two-day event also presented two popular guest artists, Isaac Bustos from Nicaragua (currently head of the Texas A&M Guitar department), and Rovshan Mamedkuliev from Azerbaijan/Russia. Both virtuosos held master classes and outstanding recitals.  Guitar aficionados filled most of the 400 seats of Auer Hall, where Bustos and Mamedkuliev each received standing ovations. On Saturday, Bustos performed an eclectic repertoire that impressively showcased his musicality and technical precision. And the atmosphere of Mamedkuliev’s outstanding concert was captured by the local media, including Peter Jacobi from the Bloomington Herald Times, who stated that the “audience roared in approval, roared like a hungry soccer crowd.”

Below: Rovshan Mamedkuliev

guitar 5






For the original post and s a bonus video: Mamedkuliev performing Tárrega’s ‘Gran Jota’ in Portland, Oregon, in 2014, please visit:

©Classical Guitar Magazine



Yamaha Honors Two Legendary Artist-Educators at PASIC16 With Prestigious Legacy in Education Awards

Yamaha presented the company’s Legacy in Education Awards to Steve Houghton and Bret Kuhn during this week’s annual Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC16) being held in Indianapolis. The annual award recognizes distinguished Yamaha Artists and music educators for their extraordinary service to and impact on the field of music education.

“Steve Houghton and Bret Kuhn have each contributed immeasurably to the field of percussion as music educators and clinicians, and have influenced the careers of thousands of aspiring percussionists,” said John Wittmann, director, Artist Relations and Education, Yamaha Artist Services Indianapolis. “During a lifetime of commitment to music education, they have earned respect from their peers as well as from the students who will become the artists and music educators of the future.”

Houghton currently serves as professor of percussion and jazz at Indiana University’s Jacobs School and Music and enjoys a demanding career as an internationally renowned clinician, jazz drummer, percussionist, author and educator. He is a skilled classical percussionist who performs with the Boston and Philadelphia Pops Orchestras and as a soloist around the globe. Houghton drew early acclaim at age 20 as the drummer with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd, and has since performed with Freddie Hubbard, Gary Burton, Christian McBride, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Joe Henderson, Ray Brown and many other jazz artists. He is a prolific author with a bibliography of more than 30 educational books, videos and DVDs, and a former president of the Percussive Arts Society.

Kuhn is a nationally prominent clinician, arranger and performing artist who is the percussion coordinator for the Prospect High School music program in Mt. Prospect, Illinois; an adjunct faculty member with Northern Illinois Marching Band; and a consultant with Arizona State’s Sun Devil Marching Band. He is active as a percussion arranger/clinician for numerous U.S. colleges and high schools and arranges for two of Japan’s top marching groups, Amachi from Nagoya and Vivace from Tokyo. Kuhn performed with the Disneyland Resort All-American College Band and marched with the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. During his tenure as instructor for the Cavaliers, they won six World Championships and five High Percussion Awards. He has published numerous articles for Percussive Notes magazine and served on the Percussive Arts Society’s board of directors.

Each year PASIC, the world’s largest percussion convention, features the top names in drumming and percussion and draws more than 5,000 attendees from around the globe. Previous luminaries who have received the Yamaha Legacy in Education Awards at PASIC include James Campbell, Dave Samuels, Dave Weckl, Jim Petercsak and Bob Breithaupt, among many others.

For more information about Yamaha at PASIC visit

For original story and site visit


Weekly Digest – November 14


It’s too early to tell how the election of Donald Trump as President will impact the arts. Here are two responses and an article on what might become huuuge: protest music.

Donald Trump, Taste and the Cultural Elite
Anne Midgette: The Washington Post
Trump not only has bad taste, but prides himself on it. Beauty, to him, appears to be a commodity measured in terms of beauty-pageant qualifications and chrome fixtures and size.

How President Trump Could Be a Boon for the Music Industry
The Tennessean: Nate Rau
Reforming the country’s antiquated music copyright laws was a non-issue during the campaign, but there is now new hope that President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican Congress could finally accomplish the long-debated reforms sought by the industry.

Donald Trump is Terrific Protest-Music Inspiration
The Atlantic: Spencer Kornhaber
Some very lovely music about Donald Trump has been released this week. That’s thanks to the launch of the “30 Songs, 30 Days” project in which the author Dave Eggers has gotten medium-to-big names in rock to record songs advocating for a “Trump-free America.”


Killing Aida: A Mortal Threat to Art
National Review: Jay Nordlinger
Identity politics, capitulation in the face of ignorance and zealotry can kill art. Certain people will kill art, and civilization along with it, if we let them.

(Eng)aging With The Arts Has Its Benefits
Createquity: Salem Tsegaye, et al
A robust set of research suggests that participatory arts activities are effective mechanisms for increasing the health and quality of life of aging individuals.


Lyric Opera of Chicago Calls FY2016 Breakeven, Though Financial Report Shows Sea of Red
Chicago Business Journal
Lyric reported $61.9 million in total revenue for the year, down substantially from $86.8 million the previous year. Total expenses for the year climbed to $84.1 million, up from $79 million the previous year.

New York Times & Wall Street Journal Prepare To Slash Entertainment Coverage And Staff As Print Ads Vanish
Deadline Holywood: Jeremy Gerard
As print advertising revenues continue to fall off the cliff, reviews and features related to film, theater and the rest of the arts are being cut at New York’s two prominent broadsheets, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

How Newark Became One of the Greatest Jazz Cities in the World
The Guardian: Tammy La Gorce
In 2016, Newark is one nonstop, ongoing, jazz parade: Wynton Marsalis, the Robert Glasper Experiment, Dianne Reeves, Phil Perry, David Sanborn and Anjelique Kidjo have been in and out town for shows.

Demonstrators Protest L.A. Opera Over Casting of White Singer as an Egyptian Pharaoh
Los Angeles Times: Catherine Womack
Ticket holders to Los Angeles Opera’s opening night of Philip Glass’ “Akhnaten” on Saturday were greeted by about 25 peaceful demonstrators who voiced their frustration over a white actor singing the title role of an Egyptian pharaoh.


Leonard Cohen, Singer-Songwriter of Love, Death and Philosophical Longing, Dies at 82
The Washington Post: Matt Schudel
The Canadian-born poet, songwriter and singer, whose intensely personal lyrics exploring themes of love, faith, death and philosophical longing made him the ultimate cult artist, and whose enigmatic song “Hallelujah” became a celebratory anthem recorded by hundreds of artists, died Nov. 7. He was 82.

Sting Reopens Bataclan With ‘Fragile,’ Tribute to David Bowie and Prince
Billboard: Rhonda Richford
A day shy of the anniversary of the Paris attacks, Sting reopened Paris’ Bataclan theater with a minute of silence for the 90 killed and dedicated the song “50,000” to David Bowie and Prince, among others.

Fiddling with the Past: The Secrets of Scottish Music
New York Times: Craig Smith
On Cape Breton, an isolated island in Nova Scotia, musicians have developed an upbeat, distinctive style that moves.

Cape Town City Ballet Evicted from Its HQ Because It’s ‘Eurocentric And Colonial’
Cape Times: Tanya Farber
After 82 years of partnership, Cape Town City Ballet has been booted out of its University of Cape Town premises because ballet is “Eurocentric and colonial”. Company members said they had to rush to clear their lockers and were warned it had become “unsafe” for them to be on UCT property owing to student protest action.

London’s New Concert Hall Project Has Stalled – and It’s No Great Loss
The Guardian: Andrew Clements
Arguments in favor left many unconvinced, and with his Barbican concerts Simon Rattle has already showed the difference he can make to a venue’s sound.


Streaming Revenue Has Already Topped $1bn at Universal this Year
Music Business Wordwide
Streaming revenues from recorded music comfortably surpassed $1bn at Universal Music Group in the first nine months of 2016. From January-September, UMG’s recorded sales from streaming and subscription services reached €1.03bn ($1.1bn) – up 64.3% on the same period in 2015 (at constant currency and perimeter).


Identifying the Musical Tastes of Birds Hyperallergic: Claire Voon Do birds prefer classical music, opera, or heavy metal? As with humans, it’s likely a matter of personal preference, and one art project is offering our feathered friends a chance to communicate their preferences to us.









IU’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ worth drive to Butler to see

jacobi article

“Madama Butterfly” is one of those operas for which you must have the right talent to portray the central character. If you don’t, it shouldn’t be done.

Fortunately, the current new production of Giacomo Puccini’s heartrending masterwork, as staged by the Indiana University Opera Theater, is twice fortunate: both sopranos portraying Butterfly or Cio-Cio-San have been carefully and successfully cast.

On opening night in the Musical Arts Center, last Friday, Marlen Nahhas offered us a soprano both powerful enough and dramatically intense to fulfill the demands of Puccini’s music and what the music imparts theatrically.

One heard faith in her voice, the faith of a very young bride staunch in the belief, even after three years of waiting, that her B.F. Pinkerton, her American naval lieutenant of a cad husband, will return to her. One heard maturation in her voice, of a 15-year-old becoming a woman and a mother faced with what will become mounting consequences. One heard tragedy in her voice, for a heroine Puccini considered brave as could be but victimized by her world and by the courage of her convictions.

On Saturday evening, Mathilda Edge took over the role. And the same needs to be said about her satisfying work. Again, musically, Edge turned into that unfortunate and admirable heroine. The faith was there. And the maturation. And the tragedy.

That was so even though their voices differed. In Marlen Nahhas’s soprano, one heard strains of silk, a rugged yet soft, pliant element that rounded out the mellifluous nature of her native instrument. In Mathilda Edge’s soprano, that noticeable extra element was steel, a band of the metallic that seemed to symbolize strength and determination.

Undoubtedly helped along dramatically by the counsel of guest stage director Lesley Koenig, they turned into Cio-Cio-Sans, despite the fact that, physically speaking, neither approximated the very young, delicate geisha Puccini had in mind. Singers that look so are not easy to find. Hard work and musical strength made the difference work in this staging.

All that said, there is no workable production of “Madama Butterfly” without several other requirements:

• Although Pinkerton’s part is not long (he appears only in the first act and briefly in the third), the tenor who sings that role must be very good, with a voice both lyrically tender and large enough to be heard above orchestral rises of sound, which Puccini supplies in abundance. We’ve been fortunate here with tenors of late, and are again in this “Butterfly” production. Justin Stolz on opening night and Trey Smagur on the next both proved to be singers with voices of excellent quality and sufficient scope. Dramatically, they had sufficient swagger. More importantly, each gave his Cio-Cio-San a well-matched partner in the gorgeous love duet that ends Act 1, probably the most beautiful such scene that Puccini ever wrote and one requiring two impassioned, radiantly-voiced singers. Stolz and Smagur supplied the goods.

• Orchestrally speaking, Puccini’s “Butterfly” score is a wonder of touches that give the music its pungent and poignant flavors. The orchestral score is bulging with technical difficulties; thus, a qualified pit orchestra is a must. The IU Philharmonic fulfills that must, with quality to spare.

• To make the orchestra accomplish what it must accomplish, a conductor of experience and lofty talent needs to be wielding the baton. In the resident Arthur Fagen, IU Opera Theater has such a conductor. Maestro Fagen contributed the appropriate leadership to both the pit musicians and the singers on stage. He was the stabilizer and the inspirer for everything musical.

• The women’s choir that musically introduces Cio-Cio-San to the stage in Act 1 must be able to convey dream and cream with their voices, in one of the most haunting such moments in all of opera. Chorus master Walter Huff’s young ladies did their job stunningly.

Now, I happen to be a traditionalist when it comes to “Madama Butterfly.” Most of Leslie Koenig’s directing was to the point and effective. However, in Act 1, I expected the chorus portraying Japanese women to introduce Butterfly to the stage, not the opposite, for some strange reason. And in the closing scene, when our brutally scarred and betrayed heroine chooses suicide to other possible options, I prefer to see most attention given to her and less to her young son, despite the fact that this production’s Sorrow, the son, is portrayed dutifully and obediently by Mira Vamos. Mira is also far older than Sorrow should be, but then, I cannot remember ever seeing a Sorrow of the right age; it wouldn’t be possible to keep a 2- or 3-year-old in line on stage. Puccini failed to take care of that issue.

In matters of scenery, again as a traditionalist, I prefer to see a house of some sort on stage. IU’s new production has no house save little toy-sized ones that hang above as a sort of roof. There are platforms instead of rooms and other spaces. But, admittedly, the set by Steven Kemp, a much-admired designer, offers a fluency of motion and a picture worth looking at. Also worth looking at are the beautiful costumes designed by Linda Pisano. As usual, Patrick Mero’s lighting adds to the looks when and wherever they are needed.

Were you to see both casts, you’d probably come up with choices, but most every singer is more than adequate, including the two baritones playing the hapless American consul Sharpless, Jonathan Bryan and Eric Smedsrud. Far stronger than adequate are the two mezzos who portray Butterfly’s faithful and worried servant Suzuki with formidable fervor, Kaitlyn McMonigle and Liz Culpepper. Tenors Darian Clonts and Bradley Bickhardt give personality to Goro, the busybody marriage broker, and two other baritones, Ji Lu and Adam Walton, display fury in abundance as Butterfly’s fanatical uncle, The Bonze.

Next weekend’s performances are in Indianapolis at Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus. If you haven’t seen this production, I’d suggest you go, despite the distance.

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer © HTO 2016 |