2011 Spring Newsletter

Faculty Activities


Antonio Greg Barata

Antonio Greg Barata was recognized by the university on March 10 with other Cal Poly employees for his 25 years of service. Barata heads the department's sound design program and teaches courses in theory and compoosition. He is the artistic director of the RSVP transmedia series which celebrates electroacoustic diversity and compositional risk. This year's production is titled "RSVP XVI: Duende." See the calendar listing at left for more information.

India D'Avignon

India D'Avignon served as the chair of the State of California Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) competition at Cuesta College in November. This prestigious annual competition draws the best pianists, wind, brass and string performers from across the state at the junior, senior and collegiate levels. A few of her responsibilities included organizing the competition venue, hiring and housing judges, scheduling competitors, writing reports and overseeing all financial matters pertaining to the competition.

She also presented the juried paper "Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia's Adopted Son) and His Glass Armonica," at the Phi Beta Delta International Conference "Higher Education, Globalization and Internationalization: Collaborating in Economically Challenging Times" in Philadelphia. Franklin invented the armonica in the attic of his Philadelphia home, so it was appropriate that this presentation take place in the city of its creation. The Phi Beta Delta conference is unique in that students, staff and faculty present research that promotes internationalizing college campuses.

D'Avignon attended and served as a reporter for the National Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Forum, "Retooling Tradition," in Austin, Texas, and also attended the MTNA conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
For the past three years, she has served as a judge for young pianists competing at the Paderewski Festival on the Central Coast and serves, as well, on the board of directors. This year Cal Poly hosted a master class with pianist Jonathan Plowright for festival winners and selected Cal Poly music majors.

She is a newly elected member of the San Luis Obispo Symphony Board of Directors.

Ken Habib

Salam CD

Ken Habib's CD "Salam"

Ken Habib saw the completion of a number of publication projects in 2010. Among them was "Salam," an album of original Eastern-Arab art music. Joining Habib on oud and vocals were longtime colleagues on instruments including violin, nay, riqq/daff, darabukka/tabla, tar, buzuq and vocals. The ensemble tracks were recorded at Santa Barbara Sound Design on a single day in August in a session that was "live" by design, and where the best of a few takes of each piece went onto the album with minimal editing.

"Salam" features an array of musical textures that emanate from the interactive context of a takht, or chamber ensemble. The individuality of the musicians oftentimes gives rise to a conversational performance style in varying textures. The album comprises 16 pieces arranged in two halves, each of which is a contrasting suite of eight pieces that relate to a particular melodic mode. The melodic instruments provide systematic punctuation of the suites and larger album with improvisation integrated into the unfolding modal framework. Symmetrical compositional principles further characterize relationships of pitch, rhythm, and texture at the levels of the piece, suite, and album.

A word meaning peace and soundness, salam is found in numerous greetings and expressions across Arabic-speaking cultures. Painter and friend, Ibrahim Al Nashashibi, contributed his lovely painting, "House of Peace," for the cover art of the album. Among the activities slated for what is developing into another busy year, Habib is looking at assembling and publishing a matching book of scores for "Salam."
If you would like to purchase a copy of the CD, e-mail Habib.

Alyson McLamore

Alyson McLamore has been participating in the University Leadership Forum, a series of biweekly meetings that feature guest speakers from across the university: the president, the provost, the college deans, and administrators from a myriad of university operations. She also dusted off her French horn to perform in a workshop concert during the 2011 Horn Symposium at UC Santa Barbara. She continues to write program notes for the SLO Symphony, Cuesta Master Chorale, and Festival Mozaic; her Cal Poly Arts lectures this year have included "Spring Awakening," "Spamalot," the Vienna Boys Choir, and the Philharmonia of Poland, and her essay "Harmony and Discord in the Wesley Family Concerts" recently appeared in "Music and the Wesleys" (University of Illinois Press). She continues serving on the board and as website coordinator for the Mozart Society of America, and is enjoying her supervision of some 18(!) independent student projects this school year.

Paul Rinzler

Paul Rinzler has been active in jazz performance, composition, and scholarship. As a jazz pianist, he continues to play various club gigs and recitals, including a yearly concert with colleague Ron McCarley of Cuesta College and others, as part of the series of jazz concerts at the Hamlet in Cambria. He has also arranged several pieces for big band, including one that will be performed at the winter quarter University Jazz Bands concert. Rinzler is scheduled to adjudicate high school jazz festivals in Goleta and Santa Cruz in the next few months.

His most recent book, "The Contradictions of Jazz," is being used as the focus of a class on the philosophy of jazz at Orange Coast College. Plans are being made for Rinzler to visit the class next fall and discuss his book with students and faculty. Rinzler will be on sabbatical next fall working on a book on solo jazz piano.

Craig Russell

Puebla Cathedral

Puebla Cathedral, Mexico

Craig Russell has been quite the Latin-American and Iberian traveler and scholar in the last year. He went to Panama twice, as an invited speaker for the Universidad de Panamá's international conferences on baroque colonial music. For the first conference, he gave a survey of the dance and sacred repertoires that predominated in Latin America during the colonial period. The U.S. Embassy and Fulbright Commission helped sponsor the event. The second trip, in June, was devoted to the feast of Corpus Christi. His talk was titled "Corpus Christi: una procesión 'galant' en California (Corpus Christi: a procession with Classical influence as found in California)." After the conference, Russell went to La Villa de los Santos en Azuero province where he was hosted by the Panamanian scholar Julio Arsomena and saw firsthand the feast of Corpus Christi where the streets are hand decorated with flowers until they become a carpet of flowering color. Russell was made an honorary member of "Los Diablicos Sucios" (The Dirty Devils), one of the most beloved folkloric dance fraternities in Panamá.

Russell went to Spain at the invitation of Francesc Bonastre from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, where he served as president of the doctoral review panel for Fabián Ramírez' defense of his doctoral dissertation on the Catalan guitarist and composer, Emilio Pujol (Russell's guitar teacher in the 1970s). While there, he spent time in the Spanish archives continuing his research on the California mission padres. Upon his return to the U.S., it was back to Mexico for an intense research trip investigating the music of one of the New World's great masters, Antonio de Salazar. Russell had access to the music archive in Puebla Cathedral where he worked with manuscripts dating from the 16th to 18th century.

Russell made two more trips to Barcelona, where he continued his research on mission padres, concentrating on the didactic or teaching pieces of Padre Narciso Durán (Mission Santa Barbara) and those of Esteban Tapís (San Luis Obispo, Santa Inés, and San Juan Bautista—among other California missions). In January he gave one of the main addresses at the international conference on Baroque Spanish music mounted by the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. The conference was titled "El Barroco musical hispánico en la metrópoli y en las antiguas colonias americanas y asiáticas," and Russell's talk was "La música misional de California y sus raíces catalanes (California's Mission Music and its Roots in Catalunya)."

Back home, Russell gave the keynote address for the convention of the California Mission Studies Association in San Miguel February 26-27. His talk was called "The Restoration of Colonial Spanish Music in the California Missions."

Russell was commissioned to write a 20-minute work for the combined forces of the San Luis Obispo Symphony and San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the SLO Symphony. The work, titled "Celebrations," will be premiered in the Performing Arts Center May 7-8.