Arts Provide Perfect Lens to Discuss Race and Immigration

Dress rehearsal for “West Side Story.” Photo by Julian Morris.

IU Jacobs School of Music voice professor Marietta Simpson, who is chair of the school’s diversity committee, answered a few questions posed by Inside IU Bloomington ahead of this weekend’s opening production of “West Side Story” at the Musical Arts Center.

Read the original article by Bethany Nolan from News at IU.

The Jacobs School of Music has scheduled a variety of public events surrounding the show, including several panel discussions focused on race relations and immigration reform, one of which Simpson will be a part of.

Q: Discuss the Jacobs School of Music’s choice to present “West Side Story” with accompanying discussions on immigration and community, as viewed through the lens of your role on the school’s diversity committee.

A: The Jacobs School of Music’s Opera and Ballet Committee makes the decisions about the opera repertoire several years in advance of each season. There are many factors that influence these decisions, but, as this year is the Bernstein Centennial, “West Side Story” was a logical selection.

Although this work was written many years ago, the societal issues confronted in the musical are completely relevant to the current national dialogue. Leonard Bernstein’s modernization of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” confronts issues of race, immigration, gang culture and, of course, love. Presenting “West Side Story” offers Jacobs the opportunity to create living music of the highest levels of artistic excellence that is relevant to the community we live in.

Stuart Yoak — who I was introduced to through my amazing colleague Constance Cook Glen, who chairs our Music in General Studies Program — has put together this series of events for this production of “West Side Story.” I attended the events he coordinated for our production of “Dead Man Walking” a few years ago.

I’m thrilled that he has decided to coordinate events for this production of “West Side Story.” It will be a wonderful musical and visual experience. Beyond the beautiful music and the wonderful choreography, is a story of humanity and our struggle to find love and acceptance in the midst of rage, race, misunderstanding, assimilation, violence, prejudice, patriotism, and life. I’m thrilled that we get to discuss these issues and hope that we bring greater understanding through these conversations.

Q: Discuss how prescient the social justice issues highlighted in the production are for today’s society, and why the arts are a good way to open discussions on these types of issues.

A: If I were to make a list of character traits one finds within the arts community, it would include diplomacy, empathy, sharing, listening, imagination, creativity, equality and responsiveness.

What better place to have conversations that stir deep passions and often leave people with an ability to hear each other than through the arts. The arts — which necessitate intense listening, feeling another’s breath and pain, anticipating another’s needs, seeing the world through some else’s perspective, and respecting the foundational experiences on which those perspectives are formed — are in fact the perfect forum for such discourse. Through the arts we can create safe places for those conversations.

Q: Discuss your role in one of the panel talks alongside colleagues across the university, and why this type of event is important to have on today’s college campuses.

A: I am honored to be one of the panelists sharing in the discussion with my colleagues. College campuses should be places where people of disparate schools of thought, cultural backgrounds and disciplines can join in conversations of consequence that have the ability to move our society toward justice, change and greater understanding. The college campus has long been and should remain at the forefront of these conversations.

Visit the box office website for tickets and more information.

Masterclass: Ian Chang + Rafiq Bhatia (of Son Lux)

We are excited to welcome guest artists Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia to Indianapolis and the IUPUI campus. Drummer Ian Chang and guitarist Rafiq Bhatia are classically trained musicians and composers that make up two thirds of the popular rock trio Son Lux. The pair works heavily with music technology in their own compositions and within the group and will present a free performance masterclass at the IUPUI Campus Center’s Klipsch Theatre (lower level) at 1:00pm on Thursday, April 12. They will discuss their performance techniques and the integration of music technology into their work.

This event is made possible with generous support by the IUPUI Department of Music and Arts Technology, Pioneer Indy, and the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute.

Drummer Ian Chang makes electronic music that is humanistic. In a metronomic genre, Chang takes a fresh approach that is rooted in physicality. Using drums to control and manipulate samples, he is able to realize complete musical ideas with unaccompanied and unedited performance. The result is a seamless marriage of raw performative intensity and sophisticated sound design. Find him on YouTube.

Rafiq Bhatia’s music reconciles meticulous sound art with mercurial improvisation to deliver searing emotional intensity. The composer-guitarist’s first two albums – Strata and Yes It Will – have been described by the New York Times as “transcending real sound in real time with the unexpected,” and by the Washington Post as “approximat[ing] life in the information age …profuse, immersive and immense.” Visit his website.

Feel free to RSVP to this event on Facebook.

Lotus Blossoms Performances Coming to Eskenazi Hospital

Kardemimmit

A series of performances will be held in the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation Concourse at the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital.

In the first of these, the women of Kardemimmit will sing and play the Finnish national instrument – the kantele, which is similar to a zither or dulcimer. The quartet has mastered both the 15-stringed and 38-stringed kantele, producing the distinctive sounds made by the plucked acoustic instrument that blends with delicate, tight vocal harmonies in a style of singing known as “reki.” The standout contemporary Nordic ensemble – composed of Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, Anna Wegelius, and Leeni Wegelius – writes music for their voices and instruments, a new folk music rooted in Finnish tradition. Lotus fan tip: Listening to Kardemimmit on disk or in video is one thing; their powerful live performance is simply remarkable.

In the second, Dance of Hope will captivate you with its rhythms, sounds, and exhilaratingly colorful choreography. Created to restore dignity and self-confidence to Ugandan children by teaching life skills, music, and the arts, the group of children, aged 7 to 16 years old, delivers a rich cultural experience. Performances explore the transformational power of music and dance to raise awareness and improve the way of life for the many children who have been orphaned, displaced, or live in poverty. This vibrant music and dance spectacular features a cast of young performers, whose triumphant and inspiring stories showcase their resilience, creativity, and persistence. Dance of Hope’s artistic director and producer, Kinobe, performed at the 2009 & 2010 Lotus World Music & Arts Festivals, as well as Lotus Blossoms in 2015.

The third performance features a brother-and-sister duo from Nashville, Tennessee, Giri & Uma Peters, who are award-winning multi-instrumentalists who astonish audiences with their refreshing, soulful blend of old-time, roots, and bluegrass music. Giri and Uma may be young (13 and 10 years old, respectively), but their musicianship and vocal harmonies showcase a creativity and originality beyond their years. Their musicianship has attracted the attention of roots music star Rhiannon Giddens and banjo greats Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck, among others. Lotus audiences know great Americana roots music when they hear it – and the Peters won’t disappoint.

These events are free and open to the public. Parking is available on the Eskenazi Health campus in the Eskenazi Health Parking Garage, which is accessible from Eskenazi Avenue.

Giri and Uma Peters are brought to Lotus Blossoms in collaboration with the IU Arts and Humanities Council/India Remixed Festival.

This series is made possible in part from the generous support of the Eskenazi Health Foundation and the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation.

Square Peg Round Hole Coming to IUPUI

We are excited to welcome guest artists Square Peg Round Hole to Indianapolis and the IUPUI campus next week. The IU Bloomington-trained instrumental rock trio will present a performance lecture on campus Friday, March 2. They will be discussing the integration of multimedia technology into their percussion-driven music as well as tips for young musicians hoping to build a career. Click here for more details.

In addition, the group will cap off their stay in Indy with a performance at Pioneer on March 3 supported by IUPUI’s own Big Robot. Click here for more information.

These events are made possible with generous support by the IUPUI Department of Music and Arts Technology, Pioneer Indy, and the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute.

Square Peg Round Hole formed in 2011 while studying music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, in Bloomington, Indiana. The band has shared bills with Built To Spill, The Album Leaf, Mae, This Will Destroy You, and The Joy Formidable, and has been featured at major venues across the country including the Electric Factory, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Old National Centre, and the World Café Live. Find them on YouTube or their website for more information.

Entanglements Series: Humanity at the Crossroads

The Crossroads Project brings the power of performance art to bear one of the great conversations of our time — humanity’s growing unsustainability and the possibility for a truly meaningful response. Comprising two original performance works ― grounded in science and elevated by art ― the project offers audiences an evocative and shared space from which to contemplate the choices before us and the pathways they create.

This multimedia performance fuses spoken word, live music, painting, and photography to reflect upon some of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. After the performance, the Crossroads Project team participate in a conversation with the audience. The performance will take place at the Indiana Historical Society, 450 W. Ohio St. in Indianapolis, on Wednesday, April 12 at 7pm. Free tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Funding for this presentation of The Crossroads Project is provided by an IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Grant.

 

Death of the Mechanical Man premiers in City Market Catacombs

dotmm-with-eventbriteOn October 25, 2016, at 7 pm, the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute presents the premier of the new audio-visual sci-fi experience, Death of the Mechanical Man. Developed by Big Robot, this work brings together silent film, acoustic instruments, and computer interactivity to create a multi-dimensional performance of sound and space in the heart of the brick barrel arches and limestone columns of Indianapolis’ City Market Catacombs.

This event is supported by our partners at Sun King Brewing. Additional support provided by the IUPUI Department of Music and Arts Technology and the Donal Tavel Arts and Technology Research Center.

The City Market Catacombs are an undeveloped historic asset and are not handicapped accessible. The Catacombs feature a very rough, uneven dirt floor. This event is not navigable for guests with walkers, canes, strollers, or wheelchairs. We recommend closed-toed shoes. Alert to people with breathing sensitivities: The Catacombs are a musty, sometimes damp area. Guests assume all personal liability for entering the catacombs for this free, public event.

IUPUI welcomes Indy Jazz Fest, Wes Montgomery Tribute Day

indy-jazz-festCampus and community collide when Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis hosts Wes Montgomery Tribute Day, the marquee event of Indy Jazz Fest, from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday, September 17th at the IUPUI Campus Center.

IUPUI has partnered with Indy Jazz Fest to celebrate Indianapolis’ music history and pay tribute to the greatest jazz guitarist produced by the city. A Grammy Award winner in 1966, the late Wes Montgomery was a self-taught musician who revolutionized the sound of jazz by strumming his guitar strings with his thumb rather than using a pick.

Montgomery made a name for himself playing in the clubs of Indiana Avenue. On Saturday, IUPUI will bring his sound, and that of many others, to the Campus Center.

More than 40 local and national bands will perform. Among those scheduled to appear are the IUPUI Jazz Ensemble and other acts from Indianapolis colleges and high schools. National headliners include Pat Martino, Chuck Loeb, Henry Johnson, Russell Malone, Bobby Broom, Fareed Haque, Dave Stryker, Will Matthews, Royce Campbell and Peter Bernstein.

The majority of the performances are free to the public. Tickets for main-stage acts are $25 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased online.

In addition to the school’s jazz ensemble, IUPUI students will be involved in Wes Montgomery Tribute Day by performing behind the scenes. The Department of Music and Arts Technology will assist with the live audio aspects of the performances. Students employed at the Campus Center, many of whom are already well-versed in event management, will continue to put practice to action through their work with the community partners.

“It’s a great learning experience for the students,” said Doug Bielmeier, assistant professor in the Department of Music and Arts Technology, who also described the importance of being involved in a live event to boost students’ employability in the future. “It’s real.”

Those attending Wes Montgomery Tribute Day will find more than just music. An exhibit by Mark Sheldon Photography is also scheduled, highlighting the history of jazz in Indianapolis. Artifacts showcasing Montgomery’s life will be on display. Free panel discussions featuring Zev Feldman of Resonance Records and Robert Montgomery, Wes’ son, are slated as well.

David Williams will be signing his book, “The Masters, Legends and Legacy of Indiana Avenue.” Copies of the book are available at Barnes & Noble @ IUPUI, which will remain open until 8 p.m. on Saturday.

 

ABOUT INDY JAZZ FEST: The mission of Indianapolis Jazz Foundation and Indy Jazz Fest is to preserve the legacy and promote the future of jazz in Indianapolis through education and performance. A celebration of community and culture that showcases jazz music in a variety of great venues across the city, Indy Jazz Fest has become a cultural icon since its start in 1999. With an increased emphasis on jazz education, Indy Jazz Fest has expanded from just one day to an entire experience, ultimately benefiting the Indianapolis arts community throughout the year by creating meaningful links between jazz education and the city’s jazz performance scene. Indy Jazz Fest is the preeminent performance event of Indianapolis Jazz Foundation and will ultimately reach upwards of 34,000 people through a combination of performances, workshops, school concerts, master classes, and community partnerships, as an integral cog in the Indianapolis arts scene. The 2016 Indy Jazz Fest is taking place Sept. 15-24, 2016.  For more information, visit the Indy Jazz Fest website.

 

To view the original post from the IUPUI Newsroom, click here.

Indiana Repertory Theatre Presents The Three Musketeers

three-musketeers-web-friendlyAdapted by Catherine Bush from Alexandre Dumas’s novel, The Three Musketeers tells the story of an eager young lad from the French provinces who arrives in Paris to join the king’s guard. This legendary tale of danger and daring, royalty and romance vibrantly comes to life on the IRT stage.

The performance will take place at 7:00pm on October 12th, 2016, at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Dr. Jason M. Kelly, Director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, will offer a post-performance discussion focused on the historical people and events presented in the novel and the play.

This event is co-sponsored by the IRT and IAHI. Tickets to The Three Musketeers can be purchased directly through the IRT Box Office at 317.635.5252 or online.

Voices from Central State to feature a conversation with Nanny Vonnegut

Blue Square

The artist Nanny Vonnegut, daughter of the acclaimed author Kurt Vonnegut, will read her maternal grandmother Riah Cox’s brief memoir, “I Remember Jones,” written about Cox’s hospitalization at Central State in the 1940s. Along with IUPUI Professor of English Jane Schultz, Vonnegut will discuss her family, the history of mental health care, and the healing power of the arts. Vonnegut will be sharing some of her own artwork, as well as family photographs.

The program will be held at the Indiana Medical History Museum on September 26th and 27th, 2016, at 6pm. It is presented with funding support from IU’s New Frontiers Program, Indiana Humanities, and the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute.

This event is the second of a three-part series of programs called “Voices from Central State,” all featuring writings by patients at Indiana’s flagship mental hospital during its 150-year history. Visit http://www.imhm.org for more information, and be sure to register in advance for your free tickets.

Voices from Central State Performance and Exhibition Series

Voices from Central State photo“Voices from Central State,” based on writings by patients at what was Indiana’s flagship psychiatric institution for nearly 150 years, begins with a one-woman show adapted from a patient’s memoir published in 1886 about her seven-year hospitalization.

The show, titled “Then There Is No Need to Speak,” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26 and 27 at the Indiana Medical History Museum, 3045 W. Vermont St.

Each night, the 60-minute performance will be followed by a brief historical presentation by Kathleen Brian, a cultural and intellectual historian at Western Washington University who specializes in histories of science, medicine and public health.

The production is directed by Terri Bourus, a professor of English drama in the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and founding artistic director of Hoosier Bard Productions. The script was adapted by Thomas Hummel from Anna Agnew’s memoir, “From Under a Cloud.” The patient, Anna Agnew, will be portrayed by Indianapolis actress Denise Jaeckel.

“What we’re looking to do with ‘Voices from Central State’ is tell an alternative kind of history through creative formats,” said Elizabeth Nelson, an associate faculty member in the Department of History at IUPUI and director of public programs at the Indiana Medical History Museum. “Most histories of medicine or mental health care are written from the point of view of doctors and administrators. It’s rare to have the patient perspective.”

“What we call mental illness — what our ancestors would have called ‘madness’ — has been part of the Western dramatic tradition for at least 25 centuries,” Bourus said.

“This interest in madness is part of drama’s fascination with extreme situations and extreme emotions,” Bourus continued. “At its best, theater makes it possible for spectators to imagine what it would be like to be another person, strikingly different from themselves. Theater provides us with a vicarious experience of the ‘other.’ That’s why memoirs, like Anna Agnew’s, are so invaluable. Agnew’s memoir tells a story of mental illness from the inside.”

The Indiana Medical History Museum is housed in the former department of pathology of the Indiana Hospital for the Insane, later known as Central State Hospital.

The second program in the “Voices from Central State” series, “I Remember Jones,” will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 27 at the museum. Nanette Vonnegut, daughter of acclaimed author Kurt Vonnegut, will read a short story by her maternal grandmother, Riah Cox, about her hospitalization in the 1940s.

Along with Jane Schultz, an IUPUI professor of English, Vonnegut will discuss a number of themes related to Cox’s story, including how mental illness affects families, the historical role of the nurse and the power of the arts to promote recovery.

The third program, titled “Leaving Home,” is an exhibit featuring newsletters produced by patients in the years leading up to the hospital’s closure in 1994. The exhibit opens Nov. 10 at the museum. That evening’s program begins with a 6 p.m. panel discussion about how the closing of the state hospital affected patients as well as Central Indiana residents who developed mental illness after the closing. Attendees may browse the exhibit beginning at 7 p.m.

All three programs require advance registration on the museum’s website. “Then There is No Need to Speak” is $5 for the public and free for students. “I Remember Jones” and the “Leaving Home” exhibit opening are free. “Leaving Home” will be on display at the Indiana Medical History Museum through March 2017.

“Voices from Central State” is supported by the IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program, the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Arts Council of Indianapolis. It is presented by the Indiana Medical History Museum and the Medical Humanities and Health Studies program in the School of Liberal Arts with assistance from Discover Near West Indys.

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