A play cannot exist without a stage manager, especially a play with lights, props, entrances, exits, movement, story, and flow. The person who received the Williston Working Artist Award on May 10 is someone who remains invisible during performances, but without her, Williston literally could not have put on a show, theater director Emily Ditkovski said as she presented the award.
As stage manager of the spring production of Peter and the Starcatcher, Risa Tapanes ’18 was responsible for knowing every component of the production, including every actor’s blocking (movement on stage) and when each prop should come and go.
“When I am lost, I turn to Risa and she always has the answer,” Ditkovski said. “You probably don’t know that during each performance Risa sits high above the stage calling the show from the booth—telling our light board operator to change light cues (in Peter and the Starcatcher there were over 150). Risa isn’t just calling ‘Cue 3, standby. Cue 3, Go.’ She is living and breathing the performance with the actors, telling the story through these cues.”
Risa puts countless hours into her work inside and out of rehearsal making sure she knows the show backwards and forwards. “She is a leader,” Ditkovski added, “someone our cast and crew can always count on, and is one of the reasons our 1,000-plus audience members felt the magic of Peter and the Starcatcher.”
Williston conferred the Williston Working Artist Award on two students at an assembly on April 5. Triniti Slaughter ’18 and Yana Pyryalina ’18 received the awards, which recognize exemplary effort and mastery of an art form.
Emily Ditkovski, visual and performing arts teacher and director of the Williston Theatre, spoke about Triniti’s devotion to dance and acting. “With lines and blocking memorized, the cast of Peter and the Starcatcher are busy putting together all of the pieces of the show. With moving set pieces and actors swimming and flying across the stage, we have our work cut out for us. It is certainly not easy.” She continued: “The Williston Working Artist award in the theater goes to a cast member who has embraced this challenge fully. Never missing a beat (literally and figuratively) and always there for her fellow starcatchers, Triniti demonstrates the camaraderie, creativity, and focus an actor needs. Continue reading →
Peter and the Starcatcher unfolds the origin story of Peter Pan, and in doing so, invites theater-goers to join a heroic journey. The Williston Northampton School’s theater program presents the play April 27 to 29, and May 4 to 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available here and go on sale on April 1. They cost $10 general admission and $7 for students and seniors.
The young adult book on which this play is based was co-written by humorist Dave Barry, and the play offers contemporary jokes and is told in a tongue-in-cheek style, said Williston Theater Director Emily Ditkovski. The Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher was nominated for a Tony award for best play in 2016.
According to Ditkovski, the play explores the often-dark path to find one’s best self. “There is no straight trajectory. The messiness of the journey is really important,” she said. “But that best self is there. It’s findable.” Continue reading →
Justin Kim’s work, on view at Williston’s Grubbs Gallery through April 28, combines the grand tradition of figure painting with a contemporary sensibility, exploring themes including archetype, pastiche, authenticity, and the relationship between technology and the artist’s hand. In addition to landscapes and figures, Kim works on miniature collages, combining forms and figures from traditional painting. His work generates tension between artifice and reality while challenging traditional painting structures.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Kim received a B.A. from Yale University and an M.F.A. from the American University in Washington, D.C. He interned with the artist David Hockney, and has taught at Yale, Dartmouth College, Smith College, and Deep Springs College in California. The recipient of several residencies and awards, he has exhibited both regionally and nationally.
Winter is no time for hibernation in the Arts Department. Students are busy rehearsing, creating, and learning new techniques, and a raft of performances and exhibits will give them a showcase for their talent and hard work.
Speaking of talent and hard work, Mark Wei ’17 received the Williston Working Artist Award, bestowed to those who go above and beyond in effort and achievement in the arts. This fall, Mark returned to campus after a summer internship at a Beijing studio determined to become a photographer. “It’s obvious that Mark has found his passion,” said photography teacher Ed Hing ’77. “He spends most of his waking hours in the Photo Lab thinking, creating, and making images. He aims for perfection in pursuit of his vision. The results have been exceptional and inspiring.” Congratulations, Mark!
On the heels of a daylong visit from Berklee College of Music student a cappella singers Pitch Slapped (read more here), Williston welcomed pianist Aaron Diehl. Diehl is one of the most sought after jazz virtuosos, consistently playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” Diehl’s meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations, and compositions are a leading force in today’s generation of jazz contemporaries, spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh artistry. He was on campus to deliver a master class to Mario Flores’ instrumental students before his performance at the UMass Fine Arts Center with Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and fellow pianist Adam Birnbaum, playing songs by Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin. Read more about his visit here.
But there is still more to look forward to!
Artist Bill Mead is showing paintings through the end of February in the Grubbs Gallery.
Winter Choral Coffee House on February 16 will feature singers from Williston’s many choral groups at 7:30 in the Chapel.
Williston’s dancers will perform their winter moves during a show on February 27 at 4:30 p.m..
Theater Lab, featuring one-act plays of experimental theater, takes place on February 23 to 25 at 8 p.m. Read more about the plays and buy tickets here. (Free for Williston students)
Winter Pops Concert, February 26, 7 p.m. in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center (moved from the chapel at 7:30 p.m.).
Dance Concert, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the chapel.
Mario Flores’s instrumental students got a treat yesterday when acclaimed pianist Aaron Diehl stopped by campus and delivered an impromptu master class. “It was a fantastic opportunity for our students!” said Flores, who leads the Williston’s orchestral and jazz programs and teaches music here.
Diehl is a sought-after jazz virtuoso, playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” He will perform tonight at the UMass Fine Arts Center with Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and fellow pianist Adam Birnbaum, playing songs by Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin.
“We had four students play and work with him,” Flores said. Students brought a piano piece they were working on, either already learned or just beginning to master. Diehl listened and then provided feedback and suggestions about everything from expression of emotion to concrete advice about fingerings and hand position. “It was a casual but professional learning moment for our kids,” Flores said.
For our second installation of the 2017 Photographers’ Lecture Series, we welcome acclaimed photographer Cig Harvey, maker of odd, off-kilter images from which one can’t look away. She will speak in the Dodge Room of Reed Campus Center on Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Harvey’s photographs and artist books have been widely exhibited and remain in the permanent collections of major museums and collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. Harvey began working in a darkroom at 13 and has been dedicated to photography ever since. She grew up in the deep valleys of Devon in the UK, and came to the States for her MFA in 1999, after years spent living in Barcelona and Bermuda.
Her first monograph, You Look At Me Like An Emergency(Schilt Publishing, 2012,)is a collection of 10 years of pictures and written vignettes. It sold out in all printings and was named one of PDNʼs Best Books of the Year 2012. Harvey had her first solo museum show at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway, in conjunction with the release. The book was well reviewed in a number of publications, including The Independent, Aesthetica, the Boston Globe, Blink, PDN, and Pro Photographer.
Harvey’s second monograph, Gardening at Night(Schlit Publishing, 2015,) was published in conjunction with solo shows at Robert Mann Gallery, New York; Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; and Paul Kopeiken Gallery, Los Angeles. The book received critical acclaim with features and reviews in Vogue, The Telegraph, the International Wall Street Journal, the International New York Times, and Aesthetica, among others.
The International Wall Street Journal said of the series, “Though the subjects and setting are familiar to us, we cannot help but feel that Cig Harvey has led us through the looking glass to a world of wonder. In the way that twilight is not quite day and not quite night, the photographs of Gardening at Night are stories not yet fully developed, while still capturing the unexpected yet oddly harmonious moments that surround us daily.”
Harvey’s work has been displayed at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and AIPAD every year since 2006. She has been a nominee for John Gutmann fellowship and the Santa Fe Prize, and a finalist for the BMW Prize at Paris Photo and for the Prix Virginia, an international photography prize for women.
Her devotion to visual storytelling has lead to innovative international campaigns and features with New York Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar Japan, Kate Spade, and Bloomingdale’s. Harvey teaches workshops and regularly speaks on her work and processes at institutions around the world. She is known for her high energy, sense of humor, and creativity. She brings a profound sense of optimism to all that she does.
Ed Hing ’77, Williston photography teacher and organizer of the series, said he asked her to speak here because of her creativity and enthusiasm about image-making. “Her work is sensitive and mysterious,” he said. “I always want to know more about the image after I’ve looked at one.”
Williston recently presented our second iteration of the Grum Project, which brings multi-disciplinary artists to campus, and is funded by a generous alumna.
Pitch Slapped, a co-ed a cappella group based at Berklee College of Music in Boston, performed at assembly and lead workshops with singers in the Middle School and Upper School on Feb. 10. See photos of the visit here.
Founded in 2006, the group enjoyed a rapid climb to fame, appearing on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” twice winning the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella Championship at Lincoln Center in New York City, and appearing on “America’s Got Talent.” Their YouTube video has gotten more than two million views.
Named one of the Top 5 best a cappella groups in the country by USA Today College, Pitch Slapped has toured the U.S. multiple times and won numerous awards for their snappy singing style that combines unique arrangements and incredible vocal virtuosity. Their repertoire contains of a variety of styles ranging from pop, to rock, to R&B.
The team will perform during an assembly, work with the Middle School chorus in the morning, and lead a workshop with Upper School choral groups in the afternoon. For a sample of their tuneful style, check out this video.
At a recent assembly, Visual and Performing Arts Department Head Natania Hume presented this year’s third Williston Working Artist Award to Gabby Record ’17.
Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Steven Berlanga, who leads choral music at Williston, said this about Gabby in nominating her: “Obviously she is a good musician and singer, which she is able to demonstrate at concerts and in rehearsal.
“She deserves this award because of what she does for the ensembles and the community beyond the classroom. She is president of our newly formed (still forming) Williston Student Choir Board, where she oversees the planning and execution of student events and concerts, as well as takes a leadership role in the ensembles.
“She writes and arranges music for our concerts. She is the director of the Wildchords a cappella group, which she does with little to no help from me. She jumps at every opportunity that is even hinted upon to sing and perform. She continues to be a leader in the classroom. She understands the importance of music making so much, that it doesn’t matter what type of music it is. She will give it her full attention and support because she recognizes music, not just by style and popularity, but by quality.
“She deserves this award, not because of the quality of musician that she is, but because of the quality of person that she is and her willingness to support the music making of others.”
Award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, and conservationist Melissa Groo on January 19 will kick off Williston’s 2017 Photographers’ Lecture Series, which brings notable photographers to the Williston campus for a public lecture and in-depth classroom instruction for Williston students.
Groo began her career as a photographer after working in a number of diverse fields, including banking, education, modeling, and silversmithing. A passionate advocate for wildlife and an accomplished technical photographer, she quickly won prestigious assignments for leading photography magazines. She has completed three for Smithsonian Magazine, covering the great sandhill crane migration in Nebraska (March 2014), the rare spirit bear in Brittish Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest (September 2015), and the endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe in Uganda (forthcoming cover story, March 2017).
Her photographs have been published in many magazines, including Smithsonian, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer. Groo has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international photography competitions, including Audubon (Grand Prize winner 2015), Nature’s Best, NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association), Festival de L’Oiseau, Birds as Art, the HBW World Bird Photo Contest, and Nature Photographer Magazine. She shows regularly and her prints are in personal and corporate collections. Her winning Audubon photos were exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., from 2015-2016.
All of Groo’s photographs are taken in the wild, without any baiting. She feels strongly about the use of ethical practices in the photography of wildlife, and tries her best to disrupt her subjects as little as possible. She created Audubon’s Guide for Ethical Bird Photography with Kenn Kaufman, and she’s advised National Wildlife Magazine and NANPA, as well as the National Audubon Society, on guidelines for ethical photography. She is also a judge for the National Audubon Society and the BigPicture Natural World photo contests.
She writes for several nature photography magazines and teaches photography, as well as maintaining involvement in organizations that promote conservation and ethical photography.
Groo has recently been named recipient of Audubon Connecticut’s 2017 Katie O’Brien Lifetime Achievement Award, which annually recognizes a person who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. She will also receive North American Nature Photography Association’s 2017 Vision Award. This award is given to a photographer every two years in recognition of early career excellence, vision and inspiration to others in nature photography, conservation and education.
Groo worked for years at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, on elephant communication in their Bioacoustics Research Program. She was a research assistant for scientist Katy Payne with The Elephant Listening Project, and spent field seasons in the rainforest of central Africa studying forest elephants in the wild.
“Melissa’s respect, love, and admiration for her animal subjects comes through in work that is stunningly beautiful,” said Williston Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Edward Hing ’77, who coordinates the series. “She brings passion and professionalism to her craft, with the goal of making a positive impact on our dwindling wild places.”
The Photographers’ Lecture series features internationally acclaimed photographers who present and discuss their work to the school and community. Advanced photography students will have the opportunity to participate in a class taught by the photographers preceding the public lecture. Past visiting photographers have included Steve McCurry, known for his National Geographic magazine cover of the girl from Afghanistan, and award-winning sports photographer Damian Strohmeyer.
The free public lecture will take place in the Dodge Room in the Reed Campus Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m.