Author: Michael.Hershkowitz@stonybrook.edu

Celebrating the Life and Career of Elaine Bonazzi

An event celebrating the life and career of soprano Elaine Bonazzi will take place on Sunday, April 14 at 7:30 in the National Opera Center of Opera America (7th floor) at 330 Seventh Avenue (between 28th and 29th streets).  A short film featuring Elaine will be shown and several speakers and singers will pay tribute to her.  A reception will follow and admission is free.
Elaine was a member of the Department of Music faculty from 1987 to 2012 and contributed to the high standards, professionalism, and warmth of the department.  All members of the department are welcome to attend.

Stony Brook Composition Student Wins Fulbright Scholarship

Congratulations to Eric Lemmon, Stony Brook Ph.D. composition student, on being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. In Eric’s own words:

“The Fulbright will be conducted at the Züricher Hochschule der Künste in Zürich, Switzerland. While there I will be developing a participatory algorithmic computer music system that explores the politics of audience participation under Patrick Müller and Martin Neukom as my Ph.D. thesis work. I will be working at both the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology and collaborating with faculty and students in the Transdisciplinary Program.”

 

Stony Brook to Host Sound and Secularity Symposium

“Sound and Secularity” is a day-long symposium at Stony Brook University on April 12, 2019 that will engage what it means to speak, sing, and listen when secularism falters as the dominant frame for modern religious and political life. Scholars from several disciplines—anthropology, music, history, and religion—will join Stony Brook faculty to discuss how secularity and religious faith shape conceptions of sound and the meanings we attach to them.

  • WHEN: April 12, 10 am to 6 pm (registration at 9, full schedule on the website)
  • WHERE: Humanities Institute 1008
  • WHO: Visiting Scholars in Music, Religion, History, and Anthropology; Stony Brook Faculty from Music, History, and WGSS.
For more information and to register, please visit the “Sound and Secularity” website: you.stonybrook.edu/soundsecularity

Music Students Win Graduate Student Awards

DMA Candidate Ju Hyeon Han won the President’s Award to Distinguished Doctoral Students,  and will present a synopsis of their research (geared to a non-specialist audience) at a symposium held in conjunction with the Graduate Awards Ceremony. One of the winners will be asked to give a commencement speech at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.

Ph.D. Candidate Matt Brounley won the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student, and will be invited to participate in the August 2019 Workshop for New Teaching Assistants, presented each year to new doctoral students during graduate orientation events.

Professor Margaret Schedel’s Sonification Project Profiled in Wired Magazine

Stony Brook University Professors Lisa Muratori and Margaret Schedel collaborated on a project that was recently profiled in Wired — Our Ears Are Unlocking an Era of Aural Data.

Muratori, an associate professor of physical therapy from the School of Health Technology and Management, works with patients that suffer from neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, which may affect their strides. Her solution for helping them determine when their gate is off? She put sensors in their shoes to create a data stream, but the problem was how to translate that information to her patients.

That’s when she turned to Schedel, an associate professor in the Department of Music, and the they collaborated on a software that alerts patients to changes in their stride by distorting the sound of whatever they are listening to on their earbuds.

As stated in the article, “It’s an example of an intriguing new evolution in our big-data world: sonification, expressing data through sound.”

Read the article

Congratulations to Niloufar Nourbakhsh, recently announced as a winner of the Second Annual Hildegard Competition for Female, Trans, and Nonbinary Composers from National Sawdust

National Sawdust, the renowned Brooklyn music incubator and performing arts venue, has announced the winners of its second Hildegard Competition for emerging female, trans, and nonbinary composers: inti figgis-vizueta of the USA, Niloufar Nourbakhsh of Iran, and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir of Iceland. All young professionals at the start of their careers, the three winners will be honored in concert on June 4 at National Sawdust, where their newly commissioned works will be premiered by the National Sawdust Ensemble, anchored by cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and making its formal debut under the baton of Lidiya Yankovskaya. By creating new opportunities for female, trans, and nonbinary composers, and by exploring the myriad mechanisms by which gender impacts the ways music is perceived, the competition illustrates National Sawdust’s extraordinary commitment to amplifying voices underrepresented in the world of new music.

The inauguration of the Hildegard Competition sought to redress a serious imbalance. As The Guardian reports, of 1,445 concerts presented at major venues around the world last year, only 76 featured compositions by women. Similarly, Bachtrack found that just 13% of the contemporary orchestral works performed worldwide last year were written by women. Since the award’s founding in 1943, only 14 out of 138 finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Music have been female, and only seven women have won. As for trans and nonbinary composers, comparable figures are hard to come by, presumably because they have yet to be formally tracked. As the Los Angeles Review of Books put it, “As we take action to rectify the disturbing gender disparity in the music industry, let’s also include trans and non-binary musicians who deserve equal access and opportunity alongside cisgender women and men.”

Last season, by explicitly soliciting submissions from nonbinary composers and assembling an all-female team of composers to judge the competition and provide follow-up mentorship, National Sawdust succeeded in creating a singularly safe and nurturing environment for composers typically failed by the system. For its second season, the mandate of the competition was expanded still further. The 2018-19 edition cast an even broader, more inclusive net, expressly inviting submissions from trans composers. To reflect this increased diversity, and better enable the judges to serve meaningfully as both mentors and role models, this year’s team has been expanded from three to five members, comprising trans female composer Gavin Rayna Russom as well as cis female composers Angélica NegrónTania León, Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun, and National Sawdust Co-founder and Artistic Director Paola Prestini.

The three 2018-19 Hildegard Competition winners were drawn from a substantial pool. After announcing the competition in October, National Sawdust received no fewer than 142 submissions from emerging composers in Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Scotland, Serbia, Turkey, Uruguay, Wales, and 24 of the United States. To demonstrate their career progress, all applicants certified that they met two of the following three criteria: that they had received no commissions of $5,000 or more, that there were no commercially released recordings of their work, and that there had been no performances of their work by a professional ensemble (except within a university setting). The applicants were then judged on their past compositions and on their curriculum vitae, personal statement, and description of the work they would compose if they won. In an attempt to remove the barriers traditionally faced by composers, neither letters of recommendation nor application fees were required.

Winning composers inti figgis-vizueta, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir will now each be commissioned to write a new work for performance and professional recording at the June 4 concert, and subsequent release on in-house label National Sawdust Tracks. As well as composing for chamber ensemble and electronics, as stipulated last season, they now have the option of submitting a vocal composition. They will also receive coaching and mentorship from the five judges, and will each receive a $7,000 cash prize.

Runners-up Bahar RoyaeeYaz LancasterMeara O’ReillyNina ShekharAngela Slater, and Sugar Vendil will also have works premiered by the National Sawdust Ensemble at the June 4 concert. An art installation of graphic scores by runner-up Monica Demarco will accompany the performance.

More information here: https://bit.ly/2Xci1Oo

In memoriam: Elaine Bonazzi, Celebrated Singer, Beloved Stony Brook Faculty

Renowned American mezzo-soprano Elaine Bonazzi passed away on Tuesday, January 29, at the age of 89.

“Fantastically gifted actor and singer.”  The Washington Post

Elaine BonazziDuring her long career on the stage from the 1950s into the 1990s, Elaine Bonazzi performed in opera houses in the U.S. and abroad, such as the Santa Fe Opera, the Washington National Opera, the New York City Opera, the Opera Company of Boston, as well as at the Dutch National Opera, the National Theatre in Belgrade, the Palacio del Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy.  She was closely associated with the challenging contemporary opera, presenting more operatic premieres than any other American singer.  She was often sought after by the composers of her day—Igor Stravinsky, Copland, Carter, Sondheim, Argento, Chavez, Menotti, Rorem and Thomson—to perform their works.

Elaine joined the Stony Brook faculty in 1987 and was a core member of the Department of Music, teaching voice, until her retirement in 2012.  Parallel with her remarkable artistic success on the world’s stages was her transformational effect on her students.  In a post on Facebook, Christine Goerke, who has gained attention as one of the greatest opera singers of our day, credits Elaine with changing her life.  In addressing Elaine, she wrote on Facebook, you are “the woman who saw me through debuts in my early years, who helped me through college struggles, who gave me my foundation, and celebrated with me when I was invited into the Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera.   Who was on the other end of the phone nearly every night for the first six months after that invite when I called in tears telling her I didn’t belong there.”  She continues, you are “the woman who had me for dinner at her apartment more times than I can count, and sat at the little circular table in her kitchen with a cup of tea consoling me when I felt like I just couldn’t do it,” concluding, “she has touched so many lives, and I would not be who I am today without her knowledge, grace, goodness, light, immense talent, and boundless love.”

“Life changing” is how many students view Elaine.  Soprano Rachel Schutz, who, like Christine, came to Stony Brook as an undergraduate, acknowledges the profound influence she had on her direction.  “I can honestly say that my life would look nothing like it does now without  Elaine,” she writes.  “I moved to the States specifically to study with her and almost all of the personal and professional things that have happened over the last 15 years stem directly from that choice and thus from her. Elaine was one of those people who radiate humanity and light.  She was the first to congratulate, to laugh, to sympathize, she was immeasurably kind and supportive, and she truly shaped the musician and human that I am today.  I am so grateful for the time spent with her and miss her dearly already.”

Faculty remember Elaine with equal fondness.  Executive Director of Stony Brook Opera, David Lawton, credits Elaine with the “development of a really first-rate vocal program” at Stony Brook, where “she also played a leading role in the development of a rigorous and comprehensive vocal curriculum.”  He continues, Elaine was “deeply dedicated to her students, and took a real interest in their development in the profession.  Elaine cared passionately about performing and teaching,” he concludes, “and I feel blessed to have known her and worked so closely with her.”

Pianist Gilbert Kalish recalls his pleasure on her appointment at Stony Brook.  “I was lucky enough to be on the search committee that chose Elaine to join our faculty.  She both charmed that committee and demonstrated brilliantly what a superb musician, singer and teacher she was.  I had the good fortune and privilege of performing some Britten songs with her at Stony Brook.  Even as a seventy year old, she had an astonishingly rich and vibrant voice.  Over the years, she was a ray of sunshine, and it was always a highlight of my day to meet and chat with her in our little office.  It was also a sad day for me and the department when I went to see Elaine in her apartment and discussed with her and Jerry the inevitability of her retirement.  It is hard to believe that this remarkable person is no longer with us.”

Perry Goldstein, chair of the department, remembers Elaine with great affection.  “Elaine was here when I first arrived at Stony Brook in 1992, a little bit in awe of our famous performance faculty.  What I remember best about her is how kind and encouraging she was to a young-ish junior colleague, how quick and a little wicked was her sense of humor, and how genuinely warm she was to everyone around her.  She contributed greatly to the atmosphere of support in the department, one that continues to this day due to the quality of foundational faculty—as artists and mentors—like Elaine.”

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Elaine pursued her studies at the Juilliard School.  In 1963, she married celebrated cellist Jerome Carrington, who survives her.  Before coming to Stony Brook, she was on faculty at the Peabody Institute of Music.

A service to celebtate her life was held in Barre, Vermont.   Memorial contributions in her honor can be made to the Elaine Bonazzi Scholarship Fund, Department of Music, Stony Brook University, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, NY 11784

Jon Fessenden, PhD Candidate in Music History & Theory, published in Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Congratulations to Jon Fessenden, PhD Candidate in Music History & Theory, on the publication of his article “Autistic Music, Musicking, and Musicality: From Psychoanalytic Origins to Spectral Hearing, and Beyond,” in Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 13 (2019): 1–19.

Read the summary below, and check out the article at the link! Delighted to see your research in Music and Disability Studies reaching an international audience, Jon! https://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/toc/jlcds/current

Abstract:
Observations of autistic musical behavior have been recorded for as long as the modern concept of autism has existed. Early autism researchers such as Leo Kanner identified autistic musicking—including listening and performing—as skilled but bizarre: autistic musicality was subsequently conceptualized from a psychoanalytic perspective as integral to the self and deeply interconnected to a pervasive pathology. Upon the decline of psychoanalytic approaches to autism in Anglophone research, autistic musicality transformed into more a myth than a serious topic of inquiry. However, a flurry of diverse studies over the past two decades has reignited interest in the topic. Music scholars drawing from disability studies began celebrating autistic musicians, and offered theories of autistic hearing and listening. In the sciences, trials revealed curious auditory processing abilities among autists, including perceptual strengths in tasks involving pitch, and weaknesses involving time. I argue that this specific combination—termed “spectral hearing”—is not only a sensory–cognitive imbalance, but portends to a neurodiverse aesthetics of perception. Like autism itself, autistic musicality is infinitely varied; however, spectral hearing and other differences appear as common subtypes that can be explored by integrating disability studies concepts, scientific data, and personal experience. Autistic musicality is a rich topic deserving of further consideration, as greater knowledge would help elaborate the nuances of the autistic lifeworld.

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