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Archive for March, 2010

And the award for most creative poster for a student recital goes to… Wesley Christensen ’10, who got the cast of Lost, with supporting help from the UVM Music Department, behind promoting his April 10 concert.

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Students in Professor Alex Stewart’s World Music class learned today about the rhythms of Indian music straight from the drummer’s mouth. Zakir Hussain, an acclaimed Indian percussionist who has performed with musicians from John McLaughlin to Bela Fleck to Ravi Shankar to Mickey Hart, dropped into Stewart’s Tuesday morning class for a talk that was equal parts lesson, lecture, and chat. Hussain is in town for a performance at the Flynn Center with his group the Masters of Percussion, a show that Stewart’s entire class would attend in the evening.

Hussain sat on a small platform at the front of the Southwick Ballroom, about one hundred students in his thrall as he (after first turning off his cell phone) launched into a rhythm on the tabla that sped and turned and looped back on itself. Hussain told the class that while there is a repertoire of Indian drumming that has existed for more than two thousand years, it is only in the last several decades that percussionists have worked outside of that box to find  what the instrument has to say. “That’s where we hadn’t gone in India, and that’s where we are going now.” With that exploration, the tabla has increasingly emerged as a melodic instrument in addition to  a rhythmic one.

The master percussionist recalled when at age seven he told his father, also a drummer, that he wanted to do the same. His father simply said, “Your training starts tomorrow.” Hussain’s father woke him at 3 o’clock the next morning and they began a form of practice that would be the grounding of his first several years as a musician. “While the world slept, my father would say a phrase, then tell me to say it back and embellish it in my own way.” Back and forth they would go for hours. “By the time i got to the tabla, I had it in my head.” His take home message for the drummers in the class: “If your hands are fast, but your brain is like — duuuuuhhhh–your hands are going to be saying, ‘Come on, tell us what to do!’ You have to get it in your head.”

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INVASIVE SPECIES?

OK, so it’s not on the level with purple loosestrife or Eurasian watermilfoil as an exotic species nudging its way into the Vermont landscape, but for some time pine cones have been mysteriously extending their range around the UVM campus. Dangling from strands of dark red yarn, there are pine cones on lamp posts; pine cones on maple trees; a pine cone necklace draped around defenseless old Ira Allen on the Green. Pine cones and pine cones and pine cones where nature never intended.

Art project, free form student pranksterism, a statement from the North American Conifer Liberation Front?

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DANCING ON TRINITY

The verb “to dance” gets a good workout in the month of March. But it usually has nothing to do with the literal kind, instead it refers to the well-used reference to the NCAA basketball tournaments as The Big Dance. (I think the hockey tournament is also a Big Dance. Maybe the Big Ice Dance.)

But last Thursday night I actually managed to turn off CBS, take a break from all that metaphorical dancing, and go see some of the real kind. The occasion was the UVM Dance Program’s “Dancing Uphill 2010” performance. The basement gymnasium in Mann Hall on UVM’s Trinity Campus at first strikes you as an unlikely locale for a dance performance, but it works well. Yeah, it basically looks like the little school gym where you threw your first dodgeball — but with dramatic lighting, a black curtain for a backdrop and chairs for the audience set up on risers, Paul Besaw, assistant professor of dance, and friends transformed the place for the evening.

Performances by UVM students, many of them minoring in dance, and a visiting group from the University of Nebraska made for an enjoyable evening, a nice departure, and a look at a dimension of UVM I hadn’t experienced. Particularly enjoyed “Compliments,” a piece set to an “Explosions in the Sky” song that was choreographed by student Erin McGee  and performed by students Alexandra Bacheller and Hannah Katz.

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GO, CATS, GO!

Catamount sports have been on a roll lately. Vermont’s Franz Bernstein won an NCAA championship in the Nordic skiing freestyle event. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams won their America East conference tournaments. Then the women went on to win their first game in the NCAA tournament, an upset win over the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

Now it’s time for the men’s hockey team to take center stage for Vermont fans. A nice run during the Hockey East tournament clinched them a spot in the NCAA Tournament’s field of sixteen teams for the second-straight year. They take on top-seeded Wisconsin tonight in a first-round game in St. Paul, Minnesota. (What’s with another Wisconsin match-up? Must we keep beating on you, Bucky Badger?)

If you can’t make it to St. Paul in the next six hours, turn on ESPNU, 9 o’clock eastern. Let’s hope it’s the first step back to another Frozen Four.

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NO WRITE, NO READ

Hi, this is Tom Weaver, editor of Vermont Quarterly. I’ve been thinking/talking for some time about starting a VQ-related blog. You don’t need to know how long I’ve been doing that thinking/talking and not actually acting upon the idea.

The problem has always been a reluctance on my part to put a blog out there due to worries that, gasp, no one would read it. Maybe the Vermont Quarterly readership gets enough UVM news via the print magazine, the web version, UVM Today, and various other university news options. But, still, I often cross campus making my rounds at work — that’s one of the many nice parts of this job, crossing campus is actually a part of work — see something interesting, quirky, definitively UVM that I want to share with our readership, yet it doesn’t really feel fit for print.

A-ha, that’s where a blog comes in.

So, here goes, because we know one thing for certain — if I don’t write a Vermont Quarterly blog, then absolutely no one will read it.

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