‘Exhilarating’ New Music Festival Opens at the Hop

News subtitle

An eclectic roster features graduate students as well as highly acclaimed guests.

Bassist William Parker
Bassist William Parker’s futuristic jazz trio Mayan Space Station will perform on Tuesday. (Photo by Peter Gannushkin)

Vibrant sonic art will herald spring at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Early next week, a jazz bandleader, digital musics students from the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, and community singers will highlight the 2022 New Music Festival.

“Dartmouth’s Department of Music and the Digital Musics Program are centers of great experimentation and invention, home to original artists and musical thinkers across the generations. The festival channels this collective energy through four varied and exhilarating events,” says festival co-director Richard Beaudoin, an assistant professor of music.

At 3:30 p.m. on April 4, in the East Reading Room of Dartmouth Library’s Baker-Berry Library, community singers will kick off the festival by participating in a vocal work by contemporary music pioneer Pauline Oliveros, led by Beaudoin.

“I had the honor to meet Oliveros and sing her now-iconic ‘Tuning Meditation’ alongside her,” he says. “The experience has never left me and I, in turn, sing the piece with Dartmouth students every year in my course, MUS 43: ‘Modern Classical Music.’ ”

At 7:30 p.m., the festival returns to Bentley as six master’s candidates in the Digital Musics Program will present works collectively titled “Garden Ghosts and the Bees.”

Mame Loshn Potions מאַמע לשון פאָשנס, by Eli Berman is a set of experimental dance pieces weaving together khazones (Ashkenazi Jewish cantorial singing) with Yiddish and Appalachian song traditions through extended vocal techniques and digital processing.

Dreaming of a Phoenix Rising, by Armond Dorsey, is a poetic fusion of clarinet with field recordings, exploring the question “How do we heal?” rooted in Black ways of knowing.

A Deal, by Piper Hill, is a short segment from an in-progress movie-musical using footage from the video game The Sims. The song’s protagonist must strike up a deal with a stranger, enabling his fairy godmother to fulfill his lifelong wish.

Nina Boujee and Indigo present: Fiends, Feelings & Frolicking Fishsticks (THE MUSICAL!), by Olivia Shortt, features a Two-Spirit Trickster friend who sometimes pretends that they understand what it means to be a human in 2022 and sometimes imagines themselves as a potato salesperson living with 10 cats.

mouthpiece, by Hamed Sinno, is an audiovisual performance for voice, speech synthesizers, and tape players, excerpted from a longer performance exploring queer vocalities as an interface for political embodiment.

grain studies, by Trevor Van de Velde, is an exploration of the sonic granularity of rice and its use as both a cultural and sonic technology. Various do-it-yourself instruments and objects are used as vessels to create delicate feedback with amplified rice acting as a physical filter.

The iconoclastic music-making continues at 7:30 p.m. on April 5, with bassist William Parker’s futuristic jazz trio Mayan Space Station, featuring Ava Mendoza on electric guitar and Gerald Cleaver on drums.

Violinist Jennifer Koh, who had been previously scheduled for April 3, will not perform this year.

“This year’s Festival asks—and invites the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities to contemplate—what music can and should mean for the present moment, with its pressures, rifts, and yet reasons for hope. All the artists in the festival are answering this question in different, virtuosic, courageous, liberating ways,” says co-director Victoria Aschheim.

William Cheng, the chair of the Department of Music, says the “spectacular programming” by Beaudoin and Aschheim “builds powerfully on the music department’s multiple anti-racist initiatives over the past couple of years.”

“These initiatives include the founding of the department’s Anti-Racist Commons, comprising faculty, staff, and students; the creation of an annual Distinguished Reade Lecture in Music and Racial Justice; Artivism (Director Walt Cunningham and Associate Director Bryan Robinson); and a radical revamp of our major and minor requirements (an open course-count model that doesn’t pedagogically or curricularly privilege any musical classroom or tradition above another, such that all music courses ‘get to count’ eligibly and equally).”

Festival events are free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Find more information about performers and the full schedule here.

Charlotte Albright