Three Days, Multitude of Musical Genres
Smith arts festival, Feb. 4-6, is free, open to the public.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Opening night of the first annual Smith ArtsFest offers a sample of the wide range of musical territory to be explored throughout the three-day celebration.
New York Polyphony, a dynamic and versatile classical vocal quartet, which will open the festival, will be followed with a late-night performance by the Nu-Taste Ensemble, a group of women jazz performers fronted by vocalist Madame Pat Tandy.
The musical diversity expands from there with a family concert featuring readings of children’s stories with musical accompaniment, performances of works by two Pulitzer Prize-winning composers as well as an avant-garde chamber opera, and a closing concert by a rapidly rising string trio.
“We were looking for the nexus of ideas where the interests and activities of our faculty and our extended arts community connect with those of our students,” explains Joel Pitchon, associate professor of music and a coordinator of the festival. “Hence, the emphases on women in music, singing, cutting-edge composition and student participation.”
Smith ArtsFest, a slate ofmusical performances that are free and open to the public, will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4, in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage, with New York Polyphony. Nu-Taste Ensemble follows at 10:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Carroll Room. (View the complete festival schedule.)
Members of the Smith Chamber Music Society will perform during two concerts on Saturday, Feb. 5. The works of composers Lewis Spratlan, professor of music at Amherst College, and Melinda Wagner, who has served as composer-in-residence at the Yellow Barn Music Festival in Marlboro, Vt., will be featured in an 8 p.m. concert. Later that evening, Smith faculty members will perform the opera Vanitas, by Salvatore Sciarrino.
Though musical performance is the main component of the festival, the schedule also includes ample educational opportunities.
Jazz flutist Carol Sudhalter (Smith Class of 1964), who performs with Nu-Taste Ensemble, will host a panel discussion on Saturday, Feb. 5, on “Women and the Jazz World,” featuring members of her ensemble, each of whom have followed unique paths to their preferred genre.
Two master classes will accompany the performance schedule, one led by New York Polyphony on Thursday, Feb. 3, another by oboist Peggy Pearson, who on Feb. 5 will perform Melinda Wagner’s Scritch, a work for oboe and string quartet.
Greg Brown, a lecturer in music at Smith, will present “Sonifying Cellular Automata,” an exploration of music creation following theories of Conway’s Game of Life and cellular automata, with a presentation of the results and concurrent video.
By the time the first annual Smith Arts Fest closes on February 6 with a performance by Trio Cavatina, an ensemble of three women that won the 2009 Naumburg Chamber Music competition, a range of musical styles andgenres will have been heard across the Smith campus.
“The inspiration for this festival arose out of a desire to draw the campus and the community into the arts,” says Pitchon. “I’m hoping everyone will find something that they wish to attend and that will bring them to the arts.”