Damian Woetzel to be awarded Harvard Arts Medal

January 12th, 2015 2 comments

Ballet dancer turned arts leader Damian Woetzel MPA ‘07 is the recipient of the 2015 Harvard Arts Medal, which will be awarded by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at a ceremony on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 4 pm at Farkas Hall, 10-12 Holyoke St., Cambridge. The ceremony, presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, will include a discussion with Woetzel moderated by actor and Harvard’s Master of the Arts John Lithgow ‘67 ArD ’05, host of the event. This is the official opening event for ARTS FIRST, Harvard University’s annual festival showcasing student creativity in the arts, April 30-May 3.

Damien Woetzel

Damian Woetzel

Admission is free but tickets are required, available in person at the Harvard Box Office at Smith Campus Center, 1450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, or by calling 617.496.2222 or visiting the box office website (phone and online ticket orders are subject to service fees). Ticket distribution for Harvard affiliates (2 per person, with valid ID) begins Tuesday, April 21; ticket distribution for the public (2 per person) begins Thursday, April 23. Some remaining tickets may be available at the door one hour prior to event start time.

“Harvard is proud and pleased to honor Damian Woetzel for his extraordinary contributions to the art of dance and to arts education,” said John Lithgow. “The first dance artist to receive the Harvard Arts Medal, Damian is also recognized for his leadership of programs and initiatives serving performing artists and their audiences, and his dedication to the vitality of our national arts profile.”

The Harvard Arts Medal honors a distinguished Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member who has achieved excellence in the arts and has made a contribution through the arts to education or the public good. Previous Medal recipients include photographer Susan Meiselas EdM ’71; visual artist and essayist Catherine Lord ‘70; saxophonist/composers Joshua Redman ’91 and Fred Ho ’79; composer John Adams ’69 MA ’72; playwright Christopher Durang ’71; poets John Ashbery ’49 and Maxine Kumin ’41; cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76; film director Mira Nair ’79; conductor and founder of Les Arts Florissants William Christie ’66; stage director Peter Sellars ’80; composer John Harbison ’60; set designer and National Theatre of the Deaf founder David Hays ’52; authors John Updike ’54 and Margaret Atwood AM ’62 LittD ‘04; songwriter/musicians Bonnie Raitt ’72 and Pete Seeger ’40; and actors Jack Lemmon ’47, Tommy Lee Jones ’69 and Matt Damon ‘92.

Damian Woetzel is director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence Program, which under his leadership aims to further the value of the arts in society, focusing on education, social justice, economics, and diplomacy. He has created events and programs furthering this work in venues varying from the National Performing Arts Center in Beijing, to the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, the home of Shakespeare in the Park. In addition to his role at the Institute, Woetzel is producer and director of dance and music performances, including the artistic directorship of the Vail International Dance Festival, where he presents dance performances and commissions. Among his other recent projects have been “Lil Buck @ Le Poisson Rouge,” an award-winning show featuring Lil Buck, Yo-Yo Ma and an array of stellar musicians; an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center; and the first performance of the White House Dance Series, which took place in the East Room of the White House and was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Woetzel works with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Connect program in the New York City Public Schools, and on “Arts Strike” events which they have pioneered as a format for artists to engage in public service. In 2012, Woetzel co-produced the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to honoree Natalia Makarova, and for the 2014 Honors he co-produced the salute to honoree Patricia McBride. In 2009, Woetzel became the founding director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which over a five year period initiated grants to enable the production of 35 new dance works.

Woetzel was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet from 1989 until his retirement from the stage in 2008, where he had works created for him by Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. During his career, Woetzel frequently performed internationally as a guest star and was a visiting artist with numerous companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre and starred in numerous television broadcasts and as the Cavalier in the Time Warner movie version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Woetzel has also choreographed a number of ballets for NYCB and other companies.

Among his awards, in July 2012 Woetzel was honored with the inaugural Gene Kelly Legacy Award—an honor jointly created by the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Estate of Gene Kelly in honor of the 100th anniversary of Kelly’s birth. Woetzel serves on the artists committee of the Kennedy Center Honors, the Knight Foundation’s National Arts Advisory Committee, and was a member of the Harvard University Task Force on the Arts. Woetzel holds an MPA degree from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In the fall of 2010 he was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School where he co-taught a course on performing arts and the law. In November 2009, President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, where he has worked on creating the Turnaround Arts Program, which now brings arts education to some of the nation’s most challenged school districts.

Harvard University’s 23rd annual ARTS FIRST festival, showcasing student and faculty creativity, will take place Thursday-Sunday, April 30-May 3, 2015. Sponsored by Harvard’s Board of Overseers and produced by the Office for the Arts at Harvard with partners across the University, this year’s festival will feature more than 200 music, theater, dance, film, visual arts and multidisciplinary events at indoor and outdoor venues. All events are open to the public, most free of charge. For more information, contact the Office for the Arts at Harvard at 617.495.8676, or visit the ARTS FIRST web page.

Dance Program: Fall 2014

September 8th, 2014 2 comments

In fall 2014, the Office for the Arts Dance Program will offer two for-credit courses, an exciting assortment of co-curricular courses, master classes, and the Emerging Choreographers Residency, now in its third year. Performances begin in November. Registration for fall co-curricular classes in ballet, contemporary, and conditioning takes place online and at the Harvard Dance Center at 60 Garden St. on September 9 & 10 from 1-5 PM.

Ezekiel Adigun '14 and Melanie Comeau '13 perform Christopher Roman's "The Sum of Missing Parts" in Dance Program Spring Performances 2012. PHOTO: Liza Voll.

Ezekiel Adigun ’14 and Melanie Comeau ’13 perform Christopher Roman’s “The Sum of Missing Parts” in Dance Program Spring Performances 2012. PHOTO: Liza Voll.

Courses for credit this fall (all courses taught by OFA Dance Program Director Jill Johnson)The Harvard Dance Project is a  faculty-led performance company which offers students the opportunity to be original cast members and collaborators in multiple dance works created by professional choreographers, including a new installation by Jill Johnson. Performances are in November, 2014. The Fundaments of Improvisation and Composition: Dance (Music 105r, half course) and  Master Work: The Choreographic Process of William Forsythe (Music 103r.), round out the semester.

Students accepted into the Emerging Choreographers Residency spend a semester working one-on-one with professional choreographers to develop their choreographic skills. This semester’s mentors are Sidney Skybetter, Jill Johnson and recent Living History awardee, Francesca Harper. Application deadline was September 5. The Emerging Choreographers Casting Audition is on Saturday, September 13, at 1 PM.

This Fall will feature master classes from the following choreographers and dance educators:

Mikko Nissinen at the Harvard Dance Center; PHOTO: Teresa Lattanzio

Mikko Nissinen at the Harvard Dance Center; PHOTO: Teresa Lattanzio

Mikko Nissinen (Ballet, 9/10; 6-7:30 PM, participants and observers register here): Boston Ballet Artistic Director and former principal dancer in San Francisco Ballet, Mikko Nissinen will teach a ballet master class.

Jill Johnson (Forsythe Rep; 9/25, 7-9 PM): 24-year close collaborator of American choreographer William Forsythe’s and former Principal Dancer in Frankfurt Ballet/Forsythe Company, Dance Director Jill Johnson will teach excerpts of Forsythe’s repertory.

Michelle Dorrance (Tap; 10/9, 7-9 PM): The innovative tap choreographer and dancer will teach a tap master class.

Sidney Skybetter, ”The Internet Show: Workshop on Telling Your Story Online (Digital Storytelling; 10/4, 1-5 PM):  Nearly 70% of hiring processes include employers seeking out applicants’ online presence, so representing oneself on the Internet has never been more consequential. This workshop explores the nuances of digital storytelling, with special attention paid to portraying one’s interests, expertise and self to an audience of potential employers and collaborators. Bring a laptop, smartphone and plenty of coffee.

Pilobolus in their piece "Shadowland." PHOTO courtesy of John Kane.

Pilobolus in their piece “Shadowland.” PHOTO courtesy of John Kane.

Pilobolus (Contemporary; 10/23, 7-9 PM): This masterclass was created for movers and uses Pilobolus’s signature techniques of improvisation and movement creation to elevate training to the next level and reinvigorate creative impulses. Classes include partnering, collaborative choreography, and peer-to-peer feedback. This class is designed to stretch the limits of movers and performers.

Francesca Harper (Improv; 10/30, 7-9 PM): Francesca Harper is a choreographer/singer/video artistthe founder of The Francesca Harper Project, a Broadway performer, and former dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem and principal dancer in William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet. Ms. Harper will teach a contemporary master class.

Fall dance performances:
November 6-9 & 12-14: Dance Program Winter Performances 2014
November 19-21: Emerging Choreographers Showing/Performance 2014, Harvard Dance Center

Visit the Dance Program website for updates on dance events this semester.

Learning From Performers: 2014-15

August 8th, 2014 No comments

Harvard students and the public are encouraged to flex their creative muscles and enhance their education through Learning From Performers, a visiting artist program sponsored by the Office for the Arts at Harvard. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for 2014-2015.

Actor/vocalist Carolee Carmello

Actor/vocalist Carolee Carmello

Currently playing the role of Mrs. du Maurier in the new musical Finding Neverland at the American Repertory Theater, Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Carolee Carmello will lead a master class for undergraduate singers on Friday, September 26, 3 pm at Farkas Hall.

A highly original soloist whose sophisticated technique and rich, lush tone took the jazz world by surprise when she arrived in New York from her native Detroit, violinist and MacArthur Grant recipient Regina Carter will discuss her latest recording/performance project, “Southern Comfort” during a conversation about her career and creative process on Thursday, October 16, 5:30 pm at Leverett House’s newly renovated Library Theatre. Carter will perform in concert at Sanders Theatre on October 17, presented by Celebrity Series of Boston.

A pianist The New Yorker has described as “playing with unerring sophistication,” Jonathan Biss will lead a master class for undergraduate musicians on Thursday, October 30. Biss performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janácek and Schoenberg. In 2012 Onyx Classics released the first CD in the pianist’s nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete sonatas.

Regina Carter

Violinist Regina Carter

Documenting one of the most neglected genres of Hip Hop culture, the film American Beatboxer depicts the first ever American Beatbox Championship, held in Brooklyn, New York, in 2010. Director Manauvaskar (Manny) Kublall, producer Rich McKeown and executive producer Chesney Snow will be at Harvard on October 24 to present a screening of the film and participate in a talkback as well as a workshop on beatboxing performance.

On November 6, student musicians in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra will be coached by section leaders of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the oldest civic symphony orchestra in the world and, according to The Guardian (UK), “one of Europe’s finest orchestras.” Under the direction of Riccardo Chailly, the orchestra tours extensively and has released numerous CDs, which have been honored with many international awards.

Composer/saxophonist/bandleader Branford Marsalis

Composer/saxophonist/bandleader Branford Marsalis

NEA Jazz Master and renowned Grammy Award‐winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis is among the most revered instrumentalists of his time. Leader of one of the finest jazz quartets and a frequent soloist with classical ensembles, Marsalis will conduct a clinic for undergraduate musicians in January. He will also perform in concert at Sanders Theatre on January 29, presented by Celebrity Series of Boston.

Other artists and complete details will be announced; for up-to-date information, visit the online schedule. Learning From Performers also posts announcements in the OFA’s weekly email arts digest, “The Beat,” as well as calendar listings in the Harvard Gazette. Visit us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @LFPerformers. For more information, call 617.495.8676.

OFA Ceramics Program hosts contemporary ceramic art exhibition

August 8th, 2014 67 comments

Ceramic Top 40: New & Selected Works, an exhibition of contemporary ceramic art, is currently at Gallery 224 in the OFA Ceramics Program Studio, 224 Western Ave., Allston. Featuring pieces selected from a broader survey of today’s leading ceramic artists, the exhibition was curated by Leslie Ferrin, director of Ferrin Contemporary in Cummington, MA, and runs through August 16.

The pieces are new and selected works by artists featured in the Ceramic Top 40 2013 show, held at Red Star Studios, part of Belger Crane Yard Studios in Kansas City, MO. The Harvard exhibition combines invited and juried submissions representing a range of conceptual, utilitarian, and sculptural ceramics, and seeks to identify artists working on the cutting edge of current processes, ideas, and presentation concepts. Both up-and-coming and established artists who are breaking new ground are included.

Lauren Mabry, “Composition of Enclosed Cylinders” (2013), red earthenware, slips, glaze

Lauren Mabry, “Composition of Enclosed Cylinders” (2013), red earthenware, slips, glaze

“For over 25 years, Ferrin Contemporary has shown the finest ceramic art and studio pottery in solo and group exhibitions at the gallery, online, and at art fairs,” noted Leslie Ferrin. “With new technologies and collaborative methods of producing art, the time had come to take a closer look at the artists who are responding to and using these new opportunities.”

In conjunction with the exhibit, a day of educational events is planned for Wednesday, June 11, 2-5 pm, starting with a workshop demonstration with exhibition artist Lauren Mabry, recipient of the 2014 Emerging Artist Award from the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts and the Raphael Prize Merit Award from the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA. The workshop will demonstrate expressive surface application techniques and concepts including the use of colorful slips and underglaze to achieve depth and painterly qualities in ceramic surfaces.

Also that day, Leslie Ferrin will give a curator’s talk 5-6 pm, and an opening reception follows, 6 to 8 pm. Events are open to the public; registration for the workshop is required (see information below).

Noted Kathy King, the Ceramics Program’s Director of Education, “We are pleased to host this important survey exhibition that explores current trends in contemporary ceramics including the use of new technologies, conceptual models of creative practice, and references to art history. With our new gallery space, this exhibition, workshop, and lecture will bring the local and New England clay community together alongside the academic Harvard students, faculty, and staff.”

Sean Erwin, “Whoopee” (2012), polished porcelain, bronze, resin,  glaze, oil paint, gold leaf, flocking fibers

Sean Erwin, “Whoopee” (2012), polished porcelain, bronze, resin,
glaze, oil paint, gold leaf, flocking fibers

The Ceramics Program has served Harvard University and the greater community with its broad range of educational offerings for more than 40 years, and moved to a new facility last fall. Known internationally for its leadership in the field, the Ceramics Program provides a creative learning environment for a dynamic mix of students and professionals from the University, greater Boston, and international communities.

Gallery 224 engages the public with exhibitions that showcase the work of emerging and established ceramic artists, research through academic collaboration, and the talent within the Ceramics Program’s studio community. Gallery 224 offers a 680-square-foot space with a full street-side view. Ceramics Program leaders King and Shawn Panepinto, Director of Studio Operations and Outreach, lead all programming for Gallery 224.

Click on photos for larger views. For more information on Lauren Mabry’s workshop and to register, call 617.495.8680 or email Kathy King.

Harvard Summer Pops Band to perform in Cambridge and Boston

July 10th, 2014 2 comments

The Harvard Summer Pops Band celebrates its 42nd season with “Summer Serenade,” a concert on Thursday, July 24 at 4 pm in Harvard Yard’s Tercentenary Theatre and on Sunday, July 27 at 3 pm at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston. Featuring tuba soloist Ken Amis and special guest conductor Tom Everett—former Director of Harvard Bands—both concerts are free and open to the public.

Conductor Mark Olson in rehearsal with the Harvard Summer Pops Band at Sanders Theatre.

Conductor Mark Olson in rehearsal with the Harvard Summer Pops Band.

Currently under the musical direction of Mark Olson, Interim Director of Harvard Bands, the Harvard Summer Pops Band has been a part of the Harvard Summer School since its beginning. Open to all brass, woodwind, and percussion musicians regardless of age and experience (without auditioning or fees), the ensemble includes students attending the Harvard Summer School as well as members of the Greater Boston community. The ensemble rehearses each week in Sanders Theater starting the last week of June with the last rehearsal held the last week of July.

Repertory for this summer’s concerts includes “La Péri Fanfare” by Paul Dukas (1865-1935), arranged by Robert Longfield; the Second Suite in F by Gustav Holst (1874-1934); “Elegy for a Young American” by Ronald Lo Presti (1933-1985); “Tubby The Tuba” by George Kleinsinger (1914-1982), arranged by George Roach; Sonata in A by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), arranged by Ken Amis; “Our Director” by F.E. Bigelow (1873-1929; Eric Zuckerman ’15, guest conductor); “Abide with Me” (traditional), arranged by Jay Dawson; “Serenata” by Leroy Anderson ’30 (1908-1975; Tom Everett, guest conductor); highlights from the Disney animated film Frozen arranged by Sean O’Loughlin; and “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932).

Tuba player/composer Ken Amis

Tuba player/composer Ken Amis

Soloist Ken Amis first took up the tuba in high school. “Suite for Bass Tuba,” composed when he was only fifteen, marked his first published work. He majored in composition at Boston University, and attended the New England Conservatory of Music where he received his master’s degree in composition; in 2003 he became the youngest recipient of NEC’s “Outstanding Alumni Award.” Amis has received commissions from several institutions and music organizations, and was a founding member and on the Board of Directors of the American Composers Forum New England Chapter. Audiences around the world have enjoyed Amis’s music through performances by such groups as the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Winds, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Center Orchestra of Ottawa. As a soloist Amis has performed with the English Chamber Orchestra and has been a member of the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra and the New World Symphony Orchestra. He has served on the faculties of Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Trombones de Costa Rica International Festival in Costa Rica, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan.

Visit the Harvard Summer Pops Band online for more information.