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New course at Syracuse University brings music of the world to the Central New York community
New course at Syracuse University brings music of the world to the Central New York communityJanuary 04, 2002Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
“Performance Live,” a new multidisciplinary course sponsored by Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) and The College of Arts and Sciences that will highlight music from around the globe, drew so much interest during the fall registration period that organizers were forced to close the class after the enrollment topped 170 students.
“Interest exceeded our expectations,” says Eileen Strempel, assistant professor in VPA. “The course is designed to enable students to appreciate the music of different cultures. The idea is for students to appreciate music not only as a form of entertainment, but for what it means in different societies where music is part of the fabric of spirituality, communication, celebrations, rites of passage and culture.”
The course will incorporate lectures and discussions about the cultural contexts, history or ideology surrounding a particular musical style or genre; in-class presentations by performing artists; and concert performances. Many of the concerts students will attend for the course are also part of the Setnor Tuesday Night Concert Series, which is free and open to the University and Central New York communities. Some of the concerts will include a pre-concert lecture to help the audience better connect with the performance, Strempel says.
“Every Tuesday, something fabulous is happening at Setnor,” Strempel says. “We are presenting concerts in conjunction with an educational mission that will enable people in the community around us to connect with music in a deeper, more profound way.”
The scheduled performances include an eclectic mix of styles and cultures, ranging from an opening concert by the internationally acclaimed New York City-based a cappella group Anonymous 4 on Jan. 22 to the rhythmic sights and sounds of the West African dance troupe Les Merveilles de Guinee on March 19.
Both concerts will be held at 8 p.m. in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium in Crouse College and are free and open to the public.
The course will also include in-class demonstrations of Japanese Shakuhachi music by Tomie Hahn, an ethnomusicologist from Tufts University, and Curtis Bahn, assistant professor of arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bahn is the creator of a wireless interactive dance system that creates musical sounds from body movement. The system consists of sensors worn on the hands and feet and small speakers that are strapped to the arms. Hahn has been experimenting with the technology in her dance.
“When I am moving, dance and music become intertwined. I am unsure whether I am dancing the music or whether the music is creating the dance,” Hahn wrote in a recent paper.
Also on the course schedule is an in-class demonstration of North Indian classical music by Massachusetts Institute of Technology lecturer George Ruckert, a master sarodist and a disciple of the legendary Ali Akbar Khan; and Gretchen Hayden, a Kathak dancer and disciple of the renowned Kathak dance master Chitresh Das. Hayden runs the Boston branch of the Chhandam School of Kathak Dance and teaches at Tufts University and Wellesley College.
“Music has the ability to transform our lives,” Strempel says. “We hope these concerts will open people up to the transformative power of music.”
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