Saturday, October 31, 2015

5 Questions with Javier Colon

Javier Colon (B.M. 2000) studied Music Education at Hartt from 1995 to 2000.  He is currently living in West Hartford.

What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

A couple months after graduating from Hartt, I was asked to be the lead singer of a band called The Derek Trucks Band. (Now known as the Tedeschi Trucks Band.) It was my 1st touring gig as a musician and I got to see what being on the road was like. I learned so much from Derek, who I believe is one of the best guitarists out there. I was with him for almost 2 years before I left the band to pursue a solo career. I signed to Capitol Records as a solo artist in 2002 and released albums with them in 2003 and 2006. The albums had moderate success but I was eventually dropped from Capitol and found myself searching for a new deal. 

After 5 years and many meetings with labels but no offers, I found myself in a tough position. I still toured as much as I could doing mainly college and corporate gigs but it was getting to the point where it wasn’t enough to support my family. Right around that time, my management had heard about a new show called “The Voice” that was starting up. After being talked into auditioning by my family and friends, I made it on the show and eventually won the 1st season. It was an amazing experience and opportunity that changed the course of my career and life. 

What are you involved with right now?

I continue to tour the US and the world with my music and will be releasing a new album with the new label I recently signed with, Concord Music Group. 

What is one of your most memorable things about your time at Hartt?  What is a career highlight?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

5 Questions with Bernadette Baker

Bernadette Baker (Bachelor of Music 1994) studied Violin Performance at Hartt from 1990 to 1994.  She is currently living in Melbourne VIC Australia.

What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

Well, I’ve moved around a lot! I lived in Boston for a year and a half, then Dallas for 8 years, then back to Racine WI for a year and a half, and then I moved to Melbourne, Australia 10 years ago, which is where I now happily reside. In that time I’ve done a lot of freelance playing and private teaching, as well as working “normal jobs.”

What are you involved with right now?

I’m currently playing in the Melbourne Opera Orchestra, which I started playing in shortly after moving to Melbourne. They have become like my second family, this group of musicians. I thoroughly enjoy making music with them and I am in love with the operatic repertoire. This became a springboard for my other music project, my violin duo, Operatic Strings. In 2008 started making arrangements of my favourite opera arias for two violins as a way of being able to play this amazing music whenever I wanted. My concept then grew to include musical theatre songs, standard classical tunes and some popular music. I asked my friend and colleague Emma to play through the arrangements with me to see if they worked, et voila! We play for weddings, special occasions, and we put on regular concerts for fun and entertainment.

What is one of your most memorable things about your time at Hartt?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In honor of the 75th birthday of James Sellars

This post is contributed by Thomas Schuttenhelm.  Thanks, Thomas. 

On Sunday, October 7, 2015 Hartt presents a concert in Berkman Auditorium at 2:00.

James Sellars (b. 1940) has enjoyed a long and varied musical career. His path to becoming a professional composer followed a traditional course but his extraordinary imagination has led him to create an increasingly original music that has set him apart from his contemporaries.

His generation includes some notable names such as Joan Tower, Charles Wuorinen, and Brian Ferneyhough. But notability is not a consequent of ingenuity. All too often the monotone of historians and commentators compress the narrative of music history into a predictable continuum of pedigreed names that lead to an over-determined ending. Only the most astute critic, such as Arthur Danto, has asked: what do we do “after the end?” James Sellars has a most convincing answer.  

If I had to identify a creative artist equal to Sellars it would be Thomas Pynchon. Both create counter-fictions with intricate interiors and alternative histories. Parodies and puns pervade their work and they are the unmatched virtuosi of apophasis. 

 If Pynchon’s favored genre is the novel, Sellars gravitates towards chamber music, and what is represented here today is some of his best. In it he celebrates a distinctly American tradition and by doing so he distances himself from the European models that could not accommodate his accent in a musical language that was accustomed to convention. His music is not without influence but his affiliations are self-selected and add an interpretive dimension to the compositions.   

His earliest acknowledged work, The Merry Guide (1961), is a series of short piano pieces that were in stark contrast to the more ‘notable’ premieres of that year, that included Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and Pli selon pli: improvisations sur Mallarm√© (No. 2) by Pierre Boulez. The severity of the contrast is evident on many layers, not the least of which can be detected in the titles alone. If Sellars did not compose his Merry Guide in conscious opposition to these works one cannot resist accompanying him on his alternate path which, interestingly, also motivated Boulez, who was attracted to the phrase: ‘Dans le doute du Jeu supreme” (“In the doubt of the supreme Game”) that provided the conceptual impetus to his “portrait” of the poet. 
Sellars excels at undercutting the ‘game of music’ in whatever form it has presented itself and which has, regrettably, taken over an art form that was once evaluated on craftsmanship and aesthetics. These latter qualities were cultivated in careful and deliberate degrees by Sellars and they occupy a central place in his music. Sellars has an impeccable ear (at one time a necessary prerequisite for a composer) and outstanding facility as a pianist, which he studied for many years. He has so successfully fused technique and intuition that it is often impossible to determine where one begins and the other ends and the pieces on the program display this quality supremely.