The Score

The Department of Music's online newsletter

Fall 2017

Faculty News

We are pleased to welcome two new faculty members to the department:

Assistant Professor and composer Erin Gee, composer, comes to us from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she was Assistant Professor of Composition-Theory. Erin holds a PhD from the Universtät für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Graz, Austria. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, awards and commissions including a recent Chamber Music America Grant for a work to be composed for ensemble Dal Niente. Read Erin's full biography.

Assistant Professor and musicologist Paula Musegades, Brandeis PhD ’14, was most recently Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Music and American Culture and Lecturer in the Department of Music and the American Studies Program at Brandeis. She has taught courses in film music, music and protest, American music, and history of rock music. Her research focuses on film and television music, pop music, and the growth of the music industry. Paula has also taught music courses at Emerson College. View Paula's Faculty Guide profile.

Musicologist and Assistant Professor Karen Desmond's project Measuring Polyphony: Digitally Mediated Access to the Music of the Middle Ages is the first project that encodes medieval music in the original medieval notation, beginning with a repertory of sixty-four motets transmitted in the major sources of French polyphony that were copied c. 1300-1375. Making digital versions of this medieval repertory publicly available, along with the tools and documentation that will enable others to rapidly add other repertories, opens up new possibilities for the analysis and interpretation of medieval music. Most current projects that encode music notation are focused on repertories written in the neumatic notations of western plainchant, or from the common practice period of c. 1600 and later.

Desmond has co-edited a book, forthcoming in February 2018, Catherine A. Bradley and Karen Desmond, eds., "The Montpellier Codex: The Final Fascicle. Contents, Contexts, Chronologies." Boydell & Brewer. She has a monograph in press, Music and the moderni: The ars nova in theory and practice (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2018). She has also published four essays in ‚Nationes'-Begriffe im mittelalterlichen Musikschrifttum Politische und regionale Gemeinschaftsnamen in musikbezogenen Quellen, 800-1400. Ed. Frank Hentschel. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2016. Karen was invited to present two talks in June 2017: "The Notational Dot and the Line of Musical Time", at the International Symposium on Medieval and Early Renaissance Music at Kloster Neustift/Novacella (Italy); "Jehan des Murs and the 'Partes prolationis' music treatise of BnF lat. 7378A", Jean (des Murs) des Murs: Quadrivial Science in the Fourteenth Century, at All Souls College, Oxford.

This past summer Associate Professor of Composition Yu-Hui Chang was featured guest artist at the Wellesley Composers Conference. In September her new work titled "In Gentle Breeze, We Sing" (an experimental music theater piece for voice ensemble, children's choir, percussion, and piano) was premiered in the Innovation Series at the National Theater and Concert Hall in Taipei.

Professor of the Practice Robert Nieske's "Sonata for Flute and Piano" and his arrangements of 7-holiday songs has been recorded by Linda Bento-rei, flute, and Vytas Baksis, piano and will be available on cd in November.

Associate Professor of the Practice and first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet Andrea Segar is the recipient of a 2017/18 Brandeis Faculty Diversity Award for her project "Castle of Our Skins: Black in Europe and Beyond." Born out of the desire to foster cultural curiosity, "Castle of our Skins" celebrates black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, "Castle of our Skins" invites exploration into black heritage and culture, spotlighting unsung and celebrated figures of past and present. "Castle of our Skins" is connected with the MUUS Residency Program and runs from November 15 - 18, culminating in a concert on Saturday, November 18 in Slosberg Recital Hall.

Department News

Bernstein PianoBernstein childhood piano goes on a cross-country trip

Since 2002 the piano that was used by Leonard Bernstein as a child has been housed in the Slosberg Music Center Lobby, a gift from Brandeis alumna Professor Judith Wechsler ’62. The upright piano, affectionately known as "Aunt Clara's piano," resided in the Bernstein family home in Sharon, MA until 1951. It was on this piano that Leonard Bernstein took his first piano lessons, quickly mastering the keyboard.

In celebrating the centennial of Bernstein's birth the Grammy Museum of Los Angeles has mounted an impressive exhibition of items belonging to the late composer/conductor including artifacts from the Brandeis Archives, and Aunt Clara's piano, which leads off the exhibition. The Grammy exhibition runs through 2020 and will be shown at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the New York Public Library, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, and in venues in Tulsa, OK, Chicago, and Portland OR.

Sonetti Spirituali PosterFrom September 13 - 16 Ensemble Nota Bene led by Professor of the Practice and early music specialist Sarah Mead was in residency at Brandeis as part of Professor Mead's project Music, Sound & Text: Exploring the convergence of three 16th- century art-forms. The primary purpose of the project is to study for convergence of instruments, composition, and text in order to more deeply understand the aesthetic basis of this Italian art-form as it arose in the late 16th century. The ensemble (viol consort) Nota Bene along with five singers from the Boston Renaissance ensemble Blue Heron presented Pietro Vinci's musical settings of the poetry of Vittoria Colonna, sonetti spirituali, in workshops and concerts. The Saturday concert included readings by Associate Professor of Theater Art Marya Lowry and Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies Paola Servino, with visuals provided by Associate Professor of Fine Arts Jonathan Unglaub. Music, Sound & Text is funded by grants from the Mandel Center and the Brandeis Arts Council.

Fafali students perform to an audiencePhoto by Mike Lovett

Ghanaian drumming and dance ensemble Fafali is having a busy fall semester under the leadership of Ben Paulding. On October 25 Fafali gave a performance and workshop for the Music at Mandel concert series (see pictures below courtesy of Brandeis photographer Mike Lovett). On Saturday, November 11, Fafali performed at the 7th annual Night for Africa, a showcase of African art, food, fashion, music, and culture, organized by the Brandeis African Students Organization (BASO). On Thursday, November 16th, Fafali performed at the Global Bazaar in the Shapiro Campus Center, part of the "I Am Global Week." Their final fall semester concert on Monday, December 4th, at 7 p.m. features three guest artists from Ghana -- Koblavi Dogah, Francis Akotuah, and Kwaku Manu -- as well as a youth African drumming group from East Boston nonprofit youth music center Zumix.

Graduate Student News

Talia Amar, PhD candidate in composition has been appointed as an instructor at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance where she will be teaching music theory, form and analysis and electronic music.

Alumni News

We note the passing of composer Halim El-Dabh, MFA 1954, on September 2, 2017, at age 96. El-Dabh was an Egyptian composer, performer, ethnomusicologist and educator and a pioneer of electronic music. He is credited with composing one of the first works of musique concrete. At Brandeis, he studied with Irving Fine and went on to do legendary work at the Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center. El-Dabh served as associate professor of music at Haile Selassie I University (now Addis Ababa University) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, professor of African studies at Howard University (1966-69), and professor of music and Pan-African studies at Kent State University (1969-91); he continued to teach courses in African studies there on a part-time basis until 2012.

Composer Seunghee Lee, PhD ’14 has been appointed Assistant Professor of Music at Ave Maria University, Fl.

Program for Merrily We Roll Along, with Matthew Stern's name highlightedThis fall Matthew Stern, BA ’08 was music director for the critically acclaimed British production of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along at Boston's Huntington Theater. Matt was a Vocal Performance Major at Brandeis with an additional major in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. While at Brandeis he studied voice with Pamela Wolfe, and conducting with Neal Hampton, James Olesen and Daniel Stepner, and with Lawrence Wolfe of the BSO. Matt served as Undergraduate Departmental Representative for Music and was music director for a number of student theater productions as well as a full-length program of choral music.

Matt is currently on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee where he is teaching courses in musical theater, graduate styles and analysis, and vocal repertoire. He has directed a number of professional theater productions and received an IRNE (Independent Reviewers of New England) Award as Best Director for his work on The Scottsboro Boys for the Boston Speakeasy Stage Company. For more information on Matt Stern visit his website.

Portrait of Nick Brown with an American flag flying behind himIn the Fall 2017 issue of the Brandeis Magazine, Nicholas Brown ’10 offers a heartfelt and touching discussion about personal identity, courage, and the powerful influence of poetry and the music of Leonard Bernstein. Nick was a performance major at Brandeis, studying voice and conducting and playing French horn. While at Brandeis he founded the Irving Fine Society to present the vocal works of Irving Fine. He also served in the Army National Guard and subsequently went on to study for a master's degree at Kings College. Following an appointment as a White House intern in the office of First Lady Michelle Obama, Nick accepted a position as a music specialist at the Library of Congress.

Alumni siblings Jared Field ’11 and Jessie Field ’13 have collaborated on a new musical about environmentalist Rachel Carson, best known as the author of "Silent Spring." Read the full article from Brandeis Alumni Magazine.