Department of Music
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In a review of Mark Steinbach's recently published Aeolus recording of Olivier Messiaen's La Nativité du Seigneur, critic Stephen Greenbank writes that Steinbach "captures the drama, intensity and raw power... offers a wealth of lofty insights and a tremendous variety of colour and shadings to this maginificent score."
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A story about PhD candidate Devanney Haruta's Piano (de)composition project. “I think there’s something beautiful about a very simple idea that gains complexity over time,” Haruta said. “The idea to put something outside, that in itself isn’t a very complex idea, but then the complexities emerge from watching and observing and playing and interacting,” she said.

Starting with the question of what happens when a piano is placed outside, now she has more questions about how a piano is made. She has questions about the environmental impact of pianos and how materials are used. She has questions about the attachments people form with their instruments and why a piano outside elicits such an emotional reaction from so many people.
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Though it’s relatively new to Brown’s arts scene, the Black Music Lab — an in-development hub that works to amplify both artists on campus and beyond — has already managed to establish its presence on College Hill.

Currently housed within the Brown Arts Institute, the lab was founded in fall 2022 by Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, the project’s faculty director, and Charrisse Barron, an ethnomusicologist who has taught at Brown and is now an assistant professor of music at Harvard.

“We noticed or recognized that there were so many amazing programs happening on campus in terms of Black musical performance and study, but it was kind of dispersed,” Lumumba-Kasongo said. Forming the lab was a way to both amplify artistic projects occurring on campus and connect them to creative work being done in the greater Providence community, she added.
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News from the Department of Music

New Music Performance Grant at Brown

The New Music Performance Grant @ Brown seeks applicants from outside of Brown University. Featured composers this year are Nick Bentz and Inga Chinilina.
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When does a musical instrument die? When it no longer produces sound? When it’s in poor playing condition? Or perhaps, simply, when there’s no one around to play it? Anyone who has walked past the Orwig Music Building on the Brown University campus this year may have found themselves pondering these queries after stumbling upon “Piano (de)composition,” a project by Class of 2016.5 alumna Devanney Haruta, who is now a doctoral student at Brown.
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News from the Department of Music

Eric Nathan Appointed Artistic Director at Collage New Music

Composer and Brown University Associate Professor of Music Eric Nathan is Appointed Artistic Director of Collage New Music, the longest-standing contemporary music ensemble in New England, as of the 2024-25 Concert Season. Nathan Replaces David Hoose Who Held the Position for 32 years.
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News from the Department of Music

Wang Lu Awarded Toulmin Fellowship

Wang Lu, composer and Brown University Associate Professor of Music, earned a 2023-24 Toulmin Fellowship from the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University and National Sawdust.
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News from the Department of Music

Ruby Erickson Produces Podcast about Cabo Verdean Music

PhD Candidate in Musicology & Ethnomusicology Ruby Erickson produced "Sounds from the Eleventh Star" with Cabo Verdean-American performer and scholar Candida Rose Baptista.
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Brown Alumni Magazine

Chance Emerson & the Series of Improbable Events

A band cobbled together before classes started freshman year has performed onstage in front of 3,000 people, opening for Blues Traveler. What’s next for Chance Emerson ’24 and his bandmates? First, homework.
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“I’ve always been interested in storytelling,” says composer and pianist Wang Lu. “We all crave stories.”

Wang’s latest composition, “The Nothing Man and Other Tales,” taps into this human hunger by recounting a series of stories she discovered in a children’s book that her daughter has been enjoying. Her musical treatment transforms these tales into adventures for adult ears.

Seattle Modern Orchestra will give the world premiere of Wang’s new piece at Town Hall on June 3 as part of its final concert of the season. Commissioned for SMO by the Barlow Foundation, “Nothing Man” marks the second collaboration between Wang and the Seattle-based chamber orchestra, which co-artistic directors Julia Tai and Jérémy Jolley founded in 2010 to perform music from the 20th and 21st centuries. SMO balances works by local and out-of-town composers.
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Since late February, students passing by the Orwig Music Library have been greeted by a sight familiar to most musicians: a piano. But the instrument on display under the library’s pine trees is no ordinary piano — it’s a decomposing one. This outdoor piano display is the work of Devanney Haruta ’16 GS, who titled her project “Piano (de)composition.”

For Haruta, the project challenges the assumption that instruments only hold value in their traditional forms. She hopes that the piano will allow her to better understand the life cycle and construction of instruments, but she also encourages community members to engage with it in any creative capacity they wish.

Haruta, who is pursuing a PhD in musicology and ethnomusicology, first came across the discarded piano after the music department had decided to throw it out. She saw the project as an opportunity to give the instrument “a second chance at life.”
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Maureen Loughran, Brown University PhD in Ethnomusicology '08, was named Director and Curator of Smithsonian Folkways effective March 27, 2023. Loughran, a career music producer, archivist and scholar, is currently the senior producer of American Routes, a nationally distributed public radio series featuring the diversity of vernacular musical traditions. Loughran becomes the fourth director and curator of Smithsonian Folkways since it was established in 1987.
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Clifford Murphy, Brown University PhD in Ethnomusicology '08, has been named the director of the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, effective April 10. Murphy, a career academic and public servant, is currently the director of folk and traditional arts at the National Endowment for the Arts.

“As an educator, public servant and musician, Cliff has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to preserving and promoting the world’s rich cultural traditions,” said Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie G. Bunch III. “As director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Cliff will demonstrate the broad diversity of living traditions, how they have shaped us and what they mean for our future.”
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Wang Lu’s “Surge,” given its world premiere at the top of the show, is the product of an initiative by the League of American Orchestras to commission new works from six composers — all women — that will be guaranteed performances from ensembles across the country.
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Autodesk published this article about research by Jay Loomis, PhD candidate in Musicology & Ethnomusicology. The article details the purposes behind the research as well as the technical process of creating the instruments.
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“Listening In” is a column dedicated to sound, music, and listening practices in contemporary art and its spaces. This section focuses on how listening practices are being investigated and reconfigured by artists working across disciplines in the twenty-second century. The latest episode of "Listening In" is dedicated to C/D, an artistic duo comprising sound designer, installation artist, and Brown University PhD candidate Kamari Carter and artist, composer, and writer Julian Day. After meeting at Columbia University and having worked individually on audio dispersal, the two started to collaborate, focusing their practice and research around ambiguities of surveillance and sousveillance and the complex ethics of broadcasting and listening.
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From the article "In soccer-crazed Argentina, ‘Muchachos’ carries the dreams of a country"

Argentina, one of the most soccer-obsessed countries in the world, has a long history of fans rewriting the lyrics of popular songs to cheer on their local teams. The practice can be traced at least to the 1950s, when working-class fans of the Boca Juniors sports club in Buenos Aires purloined an anthem of the country’s populist Peronist movement, said Luis Achondo, a postdoctoral fellow at the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago who is writing a book about songs at soccer games in Latin America.

“From there the culture has grown and grown, and in the Argentine stadiums you sing without stopping,” Achondo said.
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News from the Department of Music

Nontokozo Sihwa aka Venus Ex Machina Featured in The Wire

The Wire Publishes "Venus Rising," a feature on PhD Candidate Nontokozo Sihwa aka Venus Ex Machina on the heels of Sihwa's latest release of new music, Doxa.
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A line of students that stretched across the Main Green filed into Sayles Hall on Halloween night, buzzing with excitement as they took in the decorative cobwebs adorning the building’s balcony. The decorations come every year to Sayles, a key part of University Organist Mark Steinbach’s annual Midnight Halloween Organ Recital. Halfway through his performance Steinbach answered a solemn knock on the Sayles Hall balcony door. To the astonishment of the nearly 500 students in attendance, President Christina Paxson P’19 emerged in a witch costume, marking her first time joining Steinbach for the event, according to Steinbach.
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News from the Department of Music

Arlene Cole, Beating Heart of Our Department, Passes at 79

The Department of Music hosts an event on September 30, 2022 to celebrate Arlene, and a special website will be published this month where friends, family, alumni, and colleagues can share their memories. Details follow below.
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Audio artist and PhD candidate in Music & Multimedia Composition Will Johnson has been busy in 2022. Johnson composed music and sound for the podcast "Love Thy Neighbor," and he is one of the artists collaborating on exhibitions at MoMA and the University of Johannesburg.
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Visiting Lecturer in Music Ivan Tan discussed the relatively unknown cover of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” by instrumental band Booker T. and the MG’s in a talk presented by the Department of Music at the Orwig Music Hall Monday. Titled “McLemore Avenue,” the album sought to tinker with the Beatles’ innovative style, bringing new flavors of blues and R&B to the music that defined a generation.
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Eric Nathan received a Midcareer Research Achievement Award from the Office of the Vice President for Research for his compositions for vocal and instrumental live performance.

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