A Mindbending “Jookin’ Jam Session”

May 6th, 2016 by arouel16

HC416 297 NEWIt’s not every day you hear Young Jai’s “Gansta Walk” emanating from the usually quiet corridors of Dinand Library. But on Friday April 29, under cool blue lights, the Main Reading Room was thumping to the beat of an eclectic fusion of world music; from Galician folk tunes to American hip-hop. The performance, entitled “A Jookin’ Jam Session with Lil Buck, Cristina Pato & Friends,” kicked off Holy Cross’ “Become More Campaign” celebration weekend in front of a full crowd of eager students, staff, and alumni.

Featuring international jookin’ sensation Lil Buck alongside Galician bagpiper Christina Pato, the evening transported the audience on a musical journey around the world. Following a brief tutorial on the art of jookin’ — a street dance that originated in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1990s — Lil Buck proceeded to mesmerize the audience with his mind-bending ability to contort his body and move about the stage as if he were floating on air. Yet what was most remarkable was Lil Buck’s outstanding versatility. Whether it was hip-hop or even a Bach cello suite, Lil Buck made Memphis jookin’ appropriate for practically any style of music. This kind of artistic flexibility is what the Holy Cross Arts Transcending Borders (ATB) initiative has strove to demonstrate and it’s why Lil Buck’s performance seemed to resonant so well with the Holy Cross community.

The true highlight of the evening however, was when Lil Buck teamed up with Holy Cross students Hannah Comeau ’18, Carmela Clave ’19, Ameer Phillips ’17, and Kalif Raymond ’16. By the end of the night, these students had the entire audience on the their feet – an impressive accomplishment considering Lil Buck had just taught them Memphis jookin’ earlier that day. Overall, Lil Buck’s “Jookin’ Jam Session” ignited the spirit of the arts at Holy Cross, proving just how relevant the arts can be. – Adam Ouellet ’16

Spotlight on the Arts: Senior Visual Arts Major, Sarah Kane

April 29th, 2016 by arouel16

On Thursday April 28, senior visual arts majors presented their works in an exhibition that runs through May 27 at the Cantor Art Gallery. The exhibition, titled “Amalgam,” features the work of students Michael Allen, Liz Baker, Rebecca Blackwell, John Gallagher, Sarah Kane and Caroline O’Day.

In this Q&A reflection, Sarah Kane ’16 discusses her artistic inspiration and the creative process for two of her works: “Exploded Tutu” and “Stereotype.”

Sarah Kane '16 presents "Exploded Tutu"

                                                               Sarah Kane ’16 presents “Exploded Tutu”

How would you describe your works on exhibition?

“Through installation and sculpture, I’ve created simulated environments that place emphasis on embellishment to produce surreal and distorted landscapes. My work has shifted from the use of color in paint to the use of color in found materials. It has also transformed from replicas of miniature playgrounds and board games to installation-based works that more abstractly describe these same ideas of “play spaces.” These found objects have become my color palette, and they serve as a by-product of our material-obsessed society. In our contemporary world, the importance we place on materials and objects around us is climbing to the top of our societal hierarchy. We’re having more intimate relationships with these things than with each other. Advertisements and branding have brainwashed us into believing that we need things to be happy. My most recent work has been installation-based and large-scale with the intention to create a covetous environment that is overwhelming and strong, but also inviting with inherent beauty. My works contain a temporal quality that resembles the fleeting interests that people have in materialism and money-oriented things. Working large-scale has allowed me to prove the material’s authority and dominance, which have the power to conceal, shadow, and mesmerize space.”

What inspires your creative process?

“The inspiration of my work comes from artists such as Judy Pfaff and Jessica Stockholder, who also use found objects as their color palettes. They create installations and sculptures that are large-scale, where the viewer can walk around the piece. Their work is also very colorful and things jut out from the wall. They have strongly encouraged my creative mind, and have guided me along my journey as I’ve transformed from a two-dimensional artist to a three-dimensional artist.”

“I’m also inspired by my own personal interests, where at times I feel like I’m a hoarder, a collector, or a scrapper. I’m guilty in the sense that I often have a hard time throwing things away. In my cassette piece, I decided to use cassette tape because my father was a musician for about 20 years in Hawaii. Music has always been a big part of my life. I also feel that this piece is very different but in fact similar with “Exploded Tutu.” While “Exploded Tutu” is a simulated environment that discusses the overuse of materials in our money-obsessed society today, “Stereotype” creates this same immersive landscape, but the material used is something that might be unfamiliar to our generation today. It is a material that is so outdated that I found them at a thrift store being sold for 25 cents each. Ten cassette tapes later, and I finished the piece – meaning that it only cost me 2.50$ to make!”

What have you most enjoyed about being a visual arts major at Holy Cross?

“Honestly, in my entire four years at Holy Cross, the installation of the gallery has been my most enjoyable time in visual arts. The classes I’ve taken have encouraged my creative mind, especially Professor Remby’s “Mixed Media” course and Professor Rinklin’s “fundamentals of Color” course. However, I feel like my work slowly transformed and then reached its full potential when it was time to install. This experience was so enjoyable with the help of Cantor Art Gallery curators Roger and Tim, and also with assistance from Paula. They have all been awesome, and without their guidance, I don’t think either of my pieces would have been the same. When we presented our work for the first time on April 28, I truly felt like an artist, and that is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

– Sarah Kane ’16

The hours for the Cantor Art Gallery are Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Saturdays noon–5 p.m. Located in O’Kane Hall, 1st Floor, College of the Holy Cross, 1 College Street, Worcester, Mass., 01610. Visitors needing assistance with handicap accessibility should contact Public Safety at 508-793-2011. Admission to the gallery is free.

For additional information please call 508-793-3356 or visit the Gallery’s website.

Hamlet: A Shakespearean Classic Reimagined

April 14th, 2016 by arouel16

“Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue.  You must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.  Suit the actionhamlet (2) to the word, and the word to the action…”  – Hamlet

Hamlet’s advice to the players holds some extra weight this week, as we ready ourselves for a two-weekend run of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Fenwick Theatre.  I think I speak for the cast when I say that we are nervous, excited and eager to make our debut on Mount Saint James.  We hope that these seven performances will serve as a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the performing arts at Holy Cross and, perhaps a bit self-indulgently, months of hard work on the part of our cast.

Our time with Hamlet began shortly before winter break.  We auditioned on Friday, December 4th in Fenwick Theatre with two prepared Shakespearean soliloquies of our choice.  Professor Isser released the cast-list on the following Monday, and we were asked to have all our lines memorized upon our return to campus for the spring semester.  Admittedly, I’ve never been the best at memorizing lines – many fellow cast-members and former stage-managers would fervently agree – so I welcomed the additional time to get “off-book.”

Rehearsals began in February, and we have been in continual practice ever-since.  The Hamlet rehearsal-process has been a joy – I can’t imagine tackling a play of this gravity without the countless number of laughs supplied by our delightful company.  Rehearsals are intense, enlightening, sometimes frustrating, and frequently repetitive (Professor Isser’s favorite thing to say is: “so let’s do it one more time, except why don’t you try it like this…”) however, through this repetition, we gradually grew into the show and found some comfort in Shakespeare’s language.

We were lucky enough to take a brief respite from rehearsal when we performed at the Hanover Theatre on March 31st.  The audience of 1600 high school students proved to be an excellent crowd.  They cheered the death of characters they didn’t like (guess who), they laughed at elements of our modernization, and (hopefully) enjoyed themselves. We came away re-energized for the home stretch, and anxious to perform for our friends and families at Holy Cross.

Since then, we have been busy putting on the finishing touches for our home stage.  We have added video-projections, light, sound, and made some last-minute discoveries about the play and our characters.  We’re all ready – now we just need an audience…

If you’ve never seen a Shakespeare play before, leave your expectations with your torn ticket stub at the door to the theatre.  Even if you’ve seen Hamlet fifty times, it may be in your best interest to do the same.  We are performing a condensed, modernized, fast-paced imagining of Hamlet that aims to grab your attention for “two hours traffic on stage,” and not let go.  If you leave thinking, “what the heck did I just watch,” then we did our job.

Hopefully we’ll see you at some point over the next two weeks, and thanks for reading.

– Erik Schneider ’16 (King Claudius in the Holy Cross Theatre Department’s production of Hamlet)

Hamlet is directed by Edward Isser and runs April 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23 at 8 p.m. in the Fenwick Theatre. Tickets are available to the Holy Cross community for $10 and $15 for the general public and can be purchased by calling the Fenwick Box Office at (508) 793-2496 or online at http://HolyCrossHamlet.

Together In Song: Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Comes to Holy Cross

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

There is something undeniably unique about a chorus. If you’ve ever sung in one or had the chance to attend a choral performance, then you’ll understand the deeply compelling, innately human power of voices joining together in song. Yet choruses are more than just a source of entertainment; they build community, encourage social change, and strike at the very essence of what it means to be human. Since 1982, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, an ensemble of 175 voices, has inspired audiences and communities around the world simply by telling stories of who they are. On Saturday April 2 at 3pm, the BGMC will bring their stories to Holy Cross for a performance at the Dinand Library.

“When voices combine, something special happens” says Dan DiCenso, Assistant Professor of Music at Holy Cross who helped coordinate the concert and bring the BGMC to Mount Saint James. While teaching an honors seminar on music and gay rights this semester, Professor DiCenso thought a performance from the BGMC would be an effective way for his students “to witness how a choir constitutes community and how choral music functions as an agent of change.” With over 20 department sponsors, the event has attracted the enthusiasm and anticipation of a diverse cross-section of the college. Professor DiCenso hopes this concert not only demonstrates the “power of choral music,” but “raises important questions about what people need in order to feel a part of a community.”

According to Reuben Reynolds, Music Director of the BGMC, gay men’s choirs around the world have played a critical role in sparking dialogue and achieving rights for the LGBTQ community. As one of the seven oldest gay choruses in the country, the BGMC is affectionately hailed as a “grandparent of the entire movement,” reaching “more than 10,000 people each season and thousands more through recording, television and internet broadcasts.” Gay men’s choirs also serve as “important communities for their members” says Reynolds. “The BGMC is like a family. We’re always there for one another.”

The concert program, entitled “Capable of Anything,” is centered around the BGMC’s 10 day tour to the Middle East in June 2015. Four songs in the program will document the BGMC’s experience as the first LGBT chorus to perform in the Middle East, featuring a slideshow with photographs from the tour.

“Music creates dialogue and breaks barriers” says Reynolds. “Holy Cross has been so open and affirming about this concert. We were pleased to be asked to perform and we’re very excited to share our stories with [Holy Cross].”

The concert is free and open to the public. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 2:30pm. Learn more about the BGMC’s upcoming performance at Holy Cross here.

– Adam Ouellet ’16

Spotlight on the Arts: Purva Rumde ’18

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

On Feb. 10, Purva Rumde ’18 and two other Holy Cross students received recognition awards at ArtsWorcester’s 12th annual College Show, which  exhibited the artwork of students from the Worcester-area colleges and universities.

In this reflection, Purva discusses her inspiration for her award-winning work:

“Tangles,” pastel and charcoal on paper

Purva - tangles

“For class, we were asked to construct a portrait inspired by an artist known for their compelling self-portraits. I chose Frida Khalo, who utilized surreal-realism as a vehicle to convey her physical but also psychological self. While Khalo’s work proudly highlights her insecurities and attributes, I am more muted. I don’t share my personal fears. After much self reflection, I came up with different aspects of myself that were uniquely “me.” My hair is my biggest insecurity, but also my most defining physical characteristic. My introspective work is an attempt to shine a light on this darker aspect of my psychological self, in a hope to one day overcome my fear of my tangles and develop an appreciation in its place.”

I am grateful that my piece has been chosen for the College Art Show. There are many other wonderful pieces students have submitted, and the Show itself is a great opportunity to showcase their artistic visions, but also personal parts of themselves.” – Purva Rumde ’18

Spotlight on the Arts: Margaret MacMullin ’16

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

On Feb. 10, Margaret MacMullin ’16 and two other Holy Cross students received recognition awards at ArtsWorcester’s 12th annual College Show, which  exhibited the artwork of students from the Worcester-area colleges and universities.

In this reflection, Margaret discusses her inspiration for her award-winning work:

“Paper Plane,” oil bar, paper, and collage

Maggie - paper plane

“I created Paper Plane as my final project for Fundamentals of Drawing. Professor Remby had introduced the class to oil bar just a few weeks before, and it became my favorite medium: I could smudge and smear the paint with my fingers, removing the usual barrier of utensils between the artist and the work. The idea of the paper plane as a subject came from a song about a broken relationship, but as I started sketching, the idea developed into something more. Just like a paper plane is subject to even the smallest gust of wind, so is any new endeavor. When the hand releases the plane, control of the plane is surrendered.”

“While drawing, I thought about how I would soon be entering the unknown, traveling on a real plane to study abroad. Anything that I had ever started and failed, begun and succeeded, everything I will ever attempt–all of that, for me, is in that drawing.”

 “Before the College Art Show, I had never had my work exhibited in a gallery. I have struggled to define “art” for myself: why do I like create, is there an ultimate goal for “art“? And the best answer I can give is communication. But without a listener, a work cannot speak. ArtsWorcester provides that forum, and I am so grateful that Paper Plane found a place in the conversation.” – Margaret MacMullin ’16

Spotlight on the Arts: Nina Ho ’16

March 31st, 2016 by arouel16

On Feb. 10, Nina Ho ’16 and two other Holy Cross students received recognition awards at ArtsWorcester’s 12th annual College Show, which  exhibited the artwork of students from the Worcester-area colleges and universities.

In this reflection, Nina discusses her inspiration for her award-winning work:

“My Instalife,” matte paper book


“Social media has become an important part of our life. In a way, it has somewhat taken over how we make and store our memories. Instagram is a great example of how our memories have become digitalized. Therefore, through this work I wanted to transform my piece from 2-dimensional into 3-dimensional and from digital back to physical. I did this by using the photos I posted on my Instagram account and recreated that into a physical “photo album.”

 “My Instalife, was a final project I made for my Book Projects class, which I took last Fall. I was extremely surprised to have received this recognition. Everyone in the show did such a beautiful job and I had thought mine was too confusing, but I am very honored to have my work on display and share a space with such talented artists. The College Art Show is a great opportunity for student artists to not only allow the audience but also themselves to appreciate and enjoy their work.” – Nina Ho ’16

A Poet’s Love: Paul Houghtaling, bass-baritone

March 14th, 2016 by arouel16

On Monday March 14 at 8pm in Brooks Concert Hall, Paul Houghtaling, bass-baritone will perform Robert Schumann’s infamous song-cycle Dichterliebe. Learn more about the upcoming performance in this Q&A:

What makes singing a song cycle like Dichterliebe different from performing other vocal works, such as an opera aria or a recitative? 

Dichterliebe is one of the most beloved lieder cycles in the repertoire.  It’s special in that the 16 songs tell the story – the journey – of one protagonist, in this case a poet who is struggling with unrequited love. Other cycles by Schumann and Schubert are similar in this regard and that gives the work an “operatic” quality in some ways.  But only because of the narrative.  Vocally, the cycles allows the singer to explore more intimate sounds than one could afford to use in most operas, yet the cycle also requires a full, open approach when the poet is at his emotional extremes.

Why do you think Dichterliebe has become such a focal point of Schumann’s career and a major work in his repertoire?

Dichterliebe is widely considered to be autobiographical in nature with the struggles of Heine’s poet mirroring those of the composer with regard to his relationship with Clara Wieck.  Everyone can relate to the emotional journey of a man desperately in love, especially when Schumann created some of his most profoundly human music to accompany the poet’s story. The relationship between the vocal writing and the piano part is especially important. A hallmark of the romantic style, of course, Schumann’s piano writing in Dichterliebe is masterful and as integral to the poet’s journey as the voice line and the text.  One need only listen to the opening of “Im wunderschonen monat Mai” for its magical quality and the very final statement of the cycle, which is among the most poignant and moving piano solos in the entire repertoire.

The subject of Dichterliebe (“A Poet’s Love”)is wrought with emotional intensity. What would you say is the emotional turning point or climax of this cycle? How do you go about singing such emotionally-dense material? 

The cycle comes to a mini-conclusion, or its first shift in tone, at “Ich grolle nicht,” both vocally and emotionally. From this point forward, the poet is resigned to the bitter nature of his unrequited love, and then nature begins to speak to him, he hears music in flutes and drums, he sadly recalls his love singing, he weepily remembers  better moments from their past, and he struggles with his dreams.  Again, personification, dreams, nature, tears — these are all common obsessions of the romantics. As a singer, looking at the work as a whole allows me to find the pacing and the high and low points for the protagonist.  I also think of the work theatrically – his journey – and the fact that I’ve been singing it for 16 years helps a great deal as well.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of this work?

That’s a good question.  Certainly I think about pacing the half-hour cycle, but also to remain true and authentic to the moments in this man’s life as they unfold over the cycle.  As an actor, the most sensitive part is finding the balance between the despair and the resolution, the realization that while this ill-fated romance melted away like foam, there will be a shining summer morning yet again, this time, perhaps, filled with hope.

“Grammar”: A Q&A with Professor and Artist Matthew Gamber

February 18th, 2016 by arouel16

In this Q&A, Matthew Gamber, Assistant Professor for the Visual Arts Department at Holy Cross,  discusses his decade-long project and how students, faculty, and staff at Holy Cross have responded to the exhibition. “Grammar” runs through February 27 at the Cantor Art Gallery.

Photo by Tom Rettig

Photo by Tom Rettig

 What would you say was your inspiration for this exhibition? 

This exhibition is a survey of artwork I’ve made over the last decade. This exhibition was a rare opportunity to display past photography projects in one gallery. Even all of the projects are realized in different media, there is a conceptual uniformity–linking ideas about photography and its relationship to perception, history, and language. Roger Hankins (director for the Cantor Art Gallery) and I conceptualized the exhibition as a book-on-the-wall, where the artwork is integrated in a way it might appear in a page layout.

You describe your project as a “response to changing syntax throughout the history of photography.” What are some of the ways your exhibition approaches this “changing syntax”? 

William Ivins noted that representational photography (in comparison to other print media) is defined by its apparent lack of syntax–a set a marks made by the interpreter’s hand, which characterized all previous methods of visual reproductive media. When he made this observation, photography was seen as a vehicle for direct representation since the images it produced were created by mechanical means, and was therefore more objective. However, photography’s syntax is larger, and more encompassing, involving the technology (along with the culture and economy) in which its images are made. Each camera type and printing process distorts the data it records in identifiable ways. This exhibition, in part, is about emphasizing the particular syntax of different photographic media as a space for creative expression.

How do you wish viewers to respond to this project? Should they go into the exhibition with any sort of expectation or should they prepare themselves in any way?

My hope is that viewers will leave with a heightened awareness about how we use photography for communication–utilizing it for not only documentation, but also for misdirection and humor, as well as knowledge creation and myth making.

How have viewers responded to the exhibition thus far?

The response has been positive, with great feedback has from faculty, staff, and students. It’s been nice to hear unexpected comments in conversation, often in passing between classes. While a full understanding of conceptual overview of the show requires careful reading, there is a lot of area for the casual viewer to interact.

Learn more about Matthew Gamber’s exhibition in his recent interview with the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

The Cantor Art Gallery is located in O’Kane Hall, 1st Floor, College of the Holy Cross, One College Street, Worcester, Mass., 01610. Hours are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday noon – 5 p.m. For additional information please call 508-793-3356 or visit the Gallery’s website.

Holy Cross Dance Ensemble: A Q&A with Lauren Campson ’16 and Carly O’Brien ’17

February 15th, 2016 by arouel16

Dance Ensemble is made up of approximately 30 dancers who perform in a variety of styles including tap, hip-hop, jazz, ballet, contemporary, and lyrical. We have three shows a year: Our Family Weekend Show, our Benefit Show, and our Spring Show. Our Dance Team, which is also under the umbrella of Dance Ensemble, performs at the football games and basketball games on campus.

What do you love most about being in Dance Ensemble?

What we love most about Dance Ensemble is that we are able to express our love for dancing while still being dedicated students. Dance Ensemble allows us to continue to use dance as an outlet and challenges our creative thinking through choreographing and working with such a large group. DE is also a very close-knit group and strong support system for every member. We are also student-run, allowing each officer to play a big role in the organization of the ensemble. Both of us have met some of our closest friends while on DE and we have loved seeing every member grow through DE.

What is special about this year’s Benefit Show?

This year’s benefit show is special because all of the proceeds we raise will go to the JED foundation. This foundation is instrumental in promoting emotional health and preventing suicide among college and university students. Because the JED foundation is focused on supporting our specific age group, we thought it would be a great foundation to give back to. We hope that our show will help others to acknowledge that mental health issues are prevalent among college campuses and that we must act in order to help the individuals that need us to listen.

In addition to the wonderful cause we are supporting, the benefit show is special because there will be performances by a capella groups Fools on the Hill and Sons of Pitches. We are so excited for these two groups to be featured in our show because it shows how the performing arts groups on campus support one another. We also have class dances in our benefit show. These dances allow all members of the class of 2017, 2018 and 2019 to get together with their respective classes to choreograph a dance that includes dancers from all different styles within DE. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about our seniors; their class dance is in our spring show.

Upcoming Performance: Friday, February 19th @ 7pm in the Hogan Ballroom  

-Lauren Campson ‘16 & Carly O’Brien ‘17, Co-Chairs of HCDE