A showcase of arts department news

Jazz Pianist Aaron Diehl Gives Master Class at Williston

Aaron Diehl listens while Derrick Zhao '18 plays.
Aaron Diehl listens while Derrick Zhao ’18 plays.

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.

 

 

Cig Harvey, Maker of Mysterious Images, Continues Photographers’ Workshop Series

cig 2
Photo by Sam Adler

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. Continue reading

Award-Winning A Cappella Group Visits Campus

32858865676_2b07eff412_zWilliston 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.

Continue reading

Gabby Record ’17 Nets Working Artist Award

Gabby Record '17 belts out a song at the Winter Choral Concert.
Gabby Record ’17 belts out a song at the Winter Choral Concert.

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. Continue reading

Wildlife Photographer Melissa Groo Kicks off Photographers’ Lecture Series

Melissa Groo will be on campus on January 19.
Melissa Groo will be on campus on January 19.

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). Continue reading

Winter an Active Time for Williston Arts

Students are creating compelling abstract black and white compositions.
Students are creating compelling abstract black and white compositions.

Question: In this interstitial season when the fall play and concerts are complete and spring shows are a long way off, what’s going on in the the arts at Williston?

Answer: The arts are bustling in this “off” season!

Visual and Performing Arts Department Head Natania Hume notes that there is a buzz of activity right now in the arts. Documentary photo students recently took a field trip to MAP Gallery to meet with photographer Tracey Eller. The Caterwaulers, Williston’s male concert chorus, now has a critical mass of 30 voices and with all those basses can hit the low notes (the New Grove Dictionary of Opera defines the bass range as the E below middle C to the E above middle C). Winter dance revs up with student choreographers creating compelling and relevant work, including one celebrating the legacy of Black dancers and choreographers. And visual artists are hard at work starting with compositions in black and white.

“This in-between season is a ripe one for making art at Williston,” said Ms. Hume. “I always think of winter as a time when artists go inward and hunker down to create in earnest.”

The Caterwaulers are ready to sing low.

 

 

 

 

 

COMEDY OF ERRORS: Meet the Characters

There’s no denying it– Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is pretty confusing. Two sets of twins lead to mistaken identities and everyone (characters and audience alike) ends up a little lost. Our production makes things more confusing because almost all of the actors play more than one role. And to add one more layer to the production…all of our actors are playing actors in a theatre troupe that is putting on The Comedy of Errors (anyone who can guess why we made this choice will earn my undying respect for all time). When the theatre opens before each performance, you will have the opportunity to see the troupe warm up, set the stage and may even get a chance to take a picture with them in The Comedy of Errors photo booth. Continue reading

COMEDY OF ERRORS: Tech Week Begins

I mentioned collaboration in my last post. This is, truly, one of my favorite parts about being a theatre person. Tech Week for The Comedy of Errors began on Saturday and the power of collaboration was on full display.

For weeks the actors have  been rehearsing, the technicians have been building the set, and lighting designer Charles Raffetto and Costume Designer Ashley Tyler have been creating unique looks for the show. While we were working separately all of us had our eyes on the same prize: creating a cohesive, outlandish, ridiculous production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Our job was to stay true to Shakespeare and his influences, while bringing something new and fun to the table. Yesterday we got to see if our individual work came together in all the right ways. Needless to say, when I saw Ashley Tyler’s costume designs on the set Charles Raffeto designed, with the lights hung by tech theatre students, I did another happy dance. Continue reading

Comedy of Errors: The Ab Fab Collab

Theatre is an inherently collaborative genre. There is, quite literally, no way to do theatre alone. It’s only natural that the author of this blog post, Emily Ditkovski, Director of the Williston Theatre, would seek collaborators wherever she can.

The source material for our fall play, The Comedy of Errors, comes from two comedies by the Roman humorist Plautus, primarily The Menaechmi (cue Latin teacher Ms. Cody). The play is also heavily influenced, as devoted blog readers know, by commedia dell’arte (cue AP European History teacher Mrs. Klumpp). I reached out to my colleagues last spring  to see if we could work together. They agreed (cue Ms. D doing a happy dance.) Ms. Cody, an expert wordsmith, named this project The Ab Fab Collab(oration) and thus something truly exceptional was born. Continue reading

The Comedy of Errors: Shakespeare (Scholar) Visits the Cast

Dr. Adam Zucker, with his brown hair and long beard, is often mistaken for William Shakespeare himself. This is fitting, as he is Associate Professor in the English Department at UMass Amherst with a focus on Elizabethan Theatre.  We were lucky enough to host Dr. Zucker in the Williston Theatre on Wednesday to discuss The Comedy of Errors with the cast of our production.

He shared some fascinating scholarship with us, most notably that even in this most light-hearted of Shakespeare’s plays, the Bard still manages to ask deep, philosophical questions about belonging and family. Dr. Zucker began by reading his favorite lines from the play, Antipholus of Syracuse’s speech in Act I, Scene II:

I to the world am like a drop of water

That in the ocean seeks another drop,

Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,

Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself:

So I, to find a mother and a brother,

In quest of them, unhappy lose myself. Continue reading