NakedEye Ensemble takes center stage at DCCC

By Victoria Lavelle

It was lights up as NakedEye Ensemble took center stage to present “Loud and Soft, High and Low” at the Marple Campus Large Auditorium as part of DCCC’s New Music Concert Series Nov. 2.

The eight-member electro-acoustic ensemble pulled from the group’s combined classical, rock, and jazz talents, and performed musical works by modern and “cutting-edge” composers, utilizing acoustics, electric guitar, toy piano, and a variety of unique sound-making instruments that included kitchen gadgets.

Founded in 2009 by pianist Ju-Ping Song, NakedEye began as the resident contemporary ensemble of Pennsylvania’s Academy of Music. According to Song, approximately two years later the group had developed into an independent organization in Lancaster, Pa., composed of professional musicians from classical, rock and jazz backgrounds.

naked eye
DCCC’s New Music Concert Series continued with NakedEye Ensemble’s Jeff Stern performance on percussion Nov. 2. Photo by Victoria Lavelle

“NakedEye’s body of repertoire reflects the group’s mission to innovate and explore musical expression outside of convention,” Song said. “From notated works to guided improvisations for flexible instrumentation, the group has established a New Music presence in its home city of Lancaster, from which it collaborates with composers and performers to import and export musical works in a rich, ongoing artistic exchange. NakedEye believes in the power of New Music to surprise, uplift, and change.”

In addition to Song, “Loud and Soft, High and Low” featured the sounds of cello performed by Peter Kibbe, electric guitar by Chad Kinsey, flute by Susanna Loewy, clarinet by Christy Banks, saxophone by Ryan Kauffman, electric bass by Mike Bitts, and percussions by Jeff Stern.

“NakedEye’s performance was full of life, with a new and modern sound,” said Downingtown adjunct professor of anatomy and physiology Navita Kaushal. “The way they put together the orchestra, along with the wind and brass instruments was absolutely great!”

From notated scores to guided improvisations, the group has established a New Music presence in South Central Pennsylvania. According to Song, the ensemble collaborates with composers and performers to import and export a diverse musical experience and ongoing exchange of talents.

As noted on the ensemble’s official website, their mission states, “The group is a working embodiment of its mission to perform and promote emerging contemporary music and talent, both locally and abroad.”

NakedEye Ensemble’s mission and direction is supported by the Thomas A. and Georgina T. Russo Family Foundation, PA Council of the Arts, New Music USA, The Amphion Foundation, and individual donors.

Song interacted with the audience throughout the show and narrated between musical selections, sharing background information and personal stories of the ensembles.

Composer Aaron Jay Myers of Boston described how challenging it became when he began composing the show’s music, calling the experience “complicated.” Myers shared that he had difficulties while composing the musical selection for NakedEye, due to an unexpected change in his eyesight.

Not long after beginning the musical composition, Myers said that he became increasingly worried that he might have amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” as it’s commonly referred to as. After seeking medical treatment, he was diagnosed with strabismus, a vision impairing condition in which the visual axes of the eyes are not parallel, so each eye’s vision appears aimed in different directions.

Myers said his rock and jazz roots are apparent in the music, he explained that his inspiration was something much different.

“I am honored to have composed these works for the fantastic musicians of NakedEye,” Myers said. “After being diagnosed with strabismus, it undoubtedly became the inspiration behind this orchestrated musical piece with the goal of turning something negative into something positive and productive. The melody starts out focused and clear, then some of the material turns blurry and hazy while gradually becoming unfocused. As it builds towards the peak and nears the conclusion, everything transitions back to being focused again.”

The ensemble earned “Time’s Illusion” Commissioning Project Award, and received the New Music USA Grant in June 2017, and the Amphion Foundation Grant in July 2017. The ensemble’s commissioned works have also received first prize at NYC’s UnCaged Toy Piano Composition Competition.

University of Wisconsin – Madison music composition professor Stephen Dembski composed “NakedEye Came” in 2014, but says he just recently revised the piece at his home in Manhattan.

“I just finished replacing the contrabass with the cello at Ju-Ping’s request, to properly fit the piece with the ensembles evolving instruments and players,” Dembski added. “I made the drive down to DCCC from New York City because this was the first performance of the new since the alterations and detailed specifications. This piece is struck by the heavy resonance of the name NakedEye, and I recalled its sonic sibling in the book of Job: ‘Naked I came from the earth, naked I shall return whence I came.’”

Altogether, the ensemble showcased six orchestrated pieces. Four additional performances by NakedEye included: “Fur Alina” composed by Arvo Pärt, “God Soul Mind Brain” by Randall Woolf, “Seven” by Don Byron, and “Workers’ Union” composed by Louis Andiessen.

After curtain call and the final bow, Song and the NakedEye members invited guests to stay and encouraged questions from the audience.

DCCC general studies major Charlie Smith asked the ensemble how they trained their minds to stay focused and keep precise timing without just glazing over each musical performance.

“It sounds easy, but it’s actually extremely hard,” Song replied. “If you lose your focus, you will indeed end up lost. One of the best ways to learn your timing, is to keep rehearsing it until you have it mastered.”

DCCC liberal arts major William McMahon directed his question specifically to the electric guitarist when he asked, “Who inspired you? Did you imagine yourself playing this sort of music, rather than the traditional ‘Rock-n-roll?’”

“I was inspired by Pete Townshend from The Who, and Mark Stewart from the group, Bang on a Can,” Kinsey replied. “I used to play the electric guitar in rock music, and I made it appear effortless because it’s actually rather easy and fulfilling. Becoming a member of NakedEye Ensemble has been a much different experience that I never anticipated. I never went to music school, so I’m up here on stage playing with doctors. I don’t know how to read music, but I grew skills and talent through my passion. I’m thankful and blessed to be a part of NakedEye Ensemble.”

Contact Victoria Lavelle at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Students show international pride at DCCC Multicultural Festival with traditional dishes

On Nov. 16, the Marple campus Multicultural Festival showcased cultural foods from a number of different countries, including China, India, Canada, and Colombia. Tables at the festival also displayed infoboards, giving prospective visitors general knowledge about their countries, such as a historical overview, fun facts, and more information about their national dishes.

Photos by Joshua Patton and Shannon Reardon

Letter to the editor

The KKK protests the novel, “The Slave Players”

slaveplayers

Recently we have come under extreme fire for being a hate group. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We follow the teachings of the Bible and only wish to keep the white race pure as God intended for His chosen people. Only those who live in ignorance call us hateful. We wish no harm to anyone if they just leave us alone.

It is loud-mouth literature that poisons society against us. And we must all stand together against it. A novel is out titled “The Slave Players,” which was clearly written just to agitate the college educated who always think they have a better answer for the woes of the world. The author – a white woman who seems to know little about white society – even states in response to a church bombing incident in the novel:

“There will come a time when blacks stop praying for salvation and start praying for bombs of their own.”

Who says that? That’s the kind of hateful talk that can start a racial uprising, and is about as un-American as you can get. Most Americans we talk to support the banning of this book. Brown or colored or white, it should make no difference. Hate is hate. Contact Google at http://www.google. com/contactus and tell them how you feel. Or go to www. theslaveplayers.com and leave a comment on their board. If enough of us complain, Google will tear the site down, just like they do to so many of ours, even though we profess only truth and peace.

Contact me and I’ll tell you about other harmful literature, and how you can help us eliminate it for all mankind. Loyal American Patriot.

RLariet@outlook.com

 

Feature Photo

feature photo

day of dead

To commemorate The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) on Nov. 2, the Latinx Student Association displayed an altar in honor of Mexican artist and poet Frida Kahlo. The event is a Hispanic tradition that honors loved ones who passed away and celebrates life. LSA Vice President Valeria Bossio Chavez (left); and LSA President Yesenia Diaz Lopez (right). Photo by Alicia Barrios

Editor responds

By Theresa Rothmiller

Oct. 2 The Communitarian received a letter to the editor from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The purpose of the letter was to inform the DCCC community about a newly released novel, titled “The Slave Players,” which they suggest should be banned.

The novel, written by Megan Allen and released through Burn House Publishing, was published on Sept. 15, and is available for purchase at Amazon.com for $7.

slaveplayers
According to Burn House Publishing, the novel, “The Slave Players,” by Megan Allen, is facing harsh criticism by the Ku Klux Klan. “We’ve recieved dozens of angry emails, some border on threatening,” said a company spokesperson on their website. Photo courtesy of Burn House Publishing

It begins with 12 young black girls being murdered, and the lead politicians try to cover it up as an accident. If that isn’t motivation for mayhem, then anything less than that would be a picnic.

The novel has approximately 40 chapters, each chapter consisting of about four to six paragraphs that go into slight detail about the same injustice, discrimination, and police brutality that people of color face today. By the 20th chapter some things get out of hand. After news gets out regarding the cover up by the sheriff and governor, black southern state residents riot like never before.

General Anthony Sedgewick, commanding an army of all African-American men, has the bright idea to get vengeance by taking control of Colby County, Ala., where the murder incident occurred. He orders his soldiers to enslave, beat, and even kill Caucasians and any race other than their own. Sedgewick goes as far as gathering 200 plus white slaves to pick cotton after the harvest.

“But as the general knows there is very little to pick, and is getting to be less and less everyday,” said the general’s aide. “We’re already re-picking rows we’ve hit before. I’m not sure what the general wants.”

These Loyal White Knights claim that the literature describes what life would be like if Caucasians were enslaved and put in chains by African- Americans today.

The book’s premise may seem flawed, but not enough to justify a ban. For starters, there are hundreds of movies and television shows that reveal racism, injustice, and discrimination. Yet, there are no riots. If one book could cause mayhem, we would have been doomed decades ago.

As an African-American and a journalist, I admit I was a little disturbed by parts of the book. For instance, Sedgewick beats a female white reporter with a switch on national television, after discussing a resolution with the president. The general wanted to make an example of the reporter.

Did the book motivate or offend me to the point of my resorting to violence? Absolutely not.

The bottom line is, “The Slave Players” is harmless. It’s just fiction. The author has freedom of speech, just as the KKK does.

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the book and encourage others to purchase it.

Contact Theresa Rothmiller at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu