About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Blog posting written by Jennifer Barish, Communication Management & Design ‘14, FLEFF intern, Skokie, IL
Many of my friends who study flute, guitar, or bassoon at Ithaca College usually laugh at my ignorance of quarter notes and half notes. I don’t know music. But I certainly can feel it.
During last Sunday’s showing of OKA! at Cinemopolis, the room was full, colorful, and boisterous. Director Lavinia Currier stood before the diverse crowd of professors, students, and native Ithacans alike--eloquently introducing her film and its components of magical realism.
I ate my popcorn far too fast, and then wondered how Ms.Currier could tie together magical realism, Africa, and an ethnomusicologist from New Jersey in the next two hours.
It was the music that tied it all together. I had no prior knowledge of Central African culture, ethnomusicology, or the dangers of living in the BaAka people’s dense forest. But there was something familiar about the melodic female chants and the textured sounds of the Pygmies.
My mind instantly brought me to a sweaty park in Chicago as I heard tUnE-YarDs' front woman, Merill Garbus, sing a soulful performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival. I couldn’t help but hear the similarities between OKA!’s Pygmy music and Garbus’ vocal rifts throughout her newest album. Through my love for the tUnE-YarDs’ sound, I felt instantly connected to this foreign and mildly intimidating film. When I did a quick Google search after the showing, I discovered that Merrill’s experiences in Africa influenced her unique, musical style.
When I got home, I instantly turned on “Bizness” and danced before starting my Sunday homework.
This connection is messy. But I think that’s what FLEFF is supposed to do—mess everything up, take your mind to other experiences with art across the country, and make you dance unabashedly in your dorm room.
I'll leave these two pieces of music here for you all to make equally convoluted connections.
Where does the music take you?
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Blog was written by Kelsey Greene, Documentary Studies and Production, '13, FLEFF intern, Buffalo, New York
KG: Why do you have a passion for music? Is there a particular type of music you are fonder of?
BH: I have always loved music. I remember being moved by music at a very young age, either to dance or sing or laugh or cry.
I think like many people, music has been a source of comfort to me throughout my life and I love being able to teach in this field, because it allows me to share this love with others, hopefully helping them to develop their passion for it as well.
I like all kinds of music – I don’t mind saying that I’ve been entertained and moved by a huge variety of artists. You should see who is in my iPod.
KG: What have been some highlights in your life pertaining to your vocal careers?
BH: I’ve been very lucky to have many wonderful opportunities. I sang for eight seasons in the chorus at the Metropolitan Opera.
During those years, I was able to watch the greats up close. I think that is very interesting from a teacher’s perspective. How does Placido Domingo breathe? How does Renee Fleming move on the stage? How does a big voice sound up close as opposed to from far away – like from the back row of the opera house?
I have sung world premieres and worked with composers on their own pieces. I have sung many opera roles with various opera companies.
I love recitals of art song more than anything, and my job at Ithaca College has fostered that love and afforded me many opportunities to perform a wide variety of repertoire with some incredible musicians.
BH: I have worked with both before.
KG: Can you please briefly describe the importance of the music you will be performing Monday night, both in its historical context and to you?
BH: The songs I’m singing are gems in the German Lied repertoire. When Gustav Mahler composed these, he was stretching the definition of ‘Lied’. Previously, they had been much more ‘miniature’ in genre. His songs are much longer (usually), constructed with more complicated musical language, require a greater range of pitch, mood, dynamics, vocal color and rhythmic variation than many of the songs composed with German texts before his time.
The accompaniment for these songs can be either piano or orchestral and you can hear a great demand for color and texture variation in the accompaniment part.
I am lucky to have two such wonderful pianists who will be capturing these colors beautifully in their playing.
The reason I love to sing these songs is that for me, these poems are very powerful and the musical gesture that Mahler uses to express them form an absolutely perfect union.
KG: Can you please give us a glimpse behind the scenes as to what you went through and are going through to prepare for the upcoming event?
BH: Well, I have known these songs for a couple of years now, so I have not had to learn any new music, per se, but I have had to re-think them. I believe that many singers feel this, and that is that each time you come back to a piece of music you have sung at a different time, you learn something more about it.
In addition to that, I have had to think of these songs in relationship with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and how they can interplay with that larger work. The pianists were great about finding places in the Stravinsky into which the songs could be inserted.
KG: What are you looking forward to about this year’s event?
BH: Just having a chance to share this beautiful music with a new audience and having a chance to work with these wonderful artists.
I love the idea of faculty from schools coming together to pool their talents. When they do, something amazing always comes of it; this will be no exception.