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Cornish Presents 2015 season starts Jan. 25

The Spring 2015 Cornish Presents music series kicks off Jan. 25 with the Ben Wendel Quartet at the PONCHO Concert Hall located in Kerry Hall. The Grammy nominated saxophonist's varied career includes work as a performer, composer, producer and most recently, conductor.  He has appeared on multiple domestic and international tours with such artists as Cuban drumming legend Ignacio Berroa, Thelonious Monk Piano Competition Winner Tigran Hamasyan, hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg and the Artist formerly known as Prince. Wendel is a founding member of the Grammy nominated group Kneebody and will be part of the Seattle Jazz Experience later this spring. Other Cornish Present jazz concerts include vocalist René  Marie and her tribute to the legendary Eartha Kitt, Thumbscrew featuring the adventurous young guitarist Mary Halvorson, the noted New York-based trombonist Ryan Keberle and his group Catharsis.

This year's Spring series includes a special appearance by the Vijay Iyer Trio made possible with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Foundation, and Earshot Jazz. Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Iyer's many honors include a 2013 MacArthur fellowship, a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, multiple recognitions in Down Beat International Critics Poll (winning Jazz Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year, and Rising Star Composer categories in 2012), and in the JazzTimes extended critics poll (winning Artist of the Year, Acoustic/Mainstream Group of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and Album of the Year), the Pianist of the Year Awards for both 2012 and 2013 from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2013 ECHO Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international pianist.

Chamber music concerts will include a recital by noted pianist and Cornish faculty member Peter Mack, classical guitarist Benjamin Verdery, and pianist/composer Dawn Clement. Another exciting Seattle collaboration occurs between Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra concertmaster Michael Lim (violin), chamber artist Melia Watras (viola), and jazz artists Cuong Vu (trumpet) and Ted Poor (drums).

The spring season concludes with audience perennial favorite Gamelan Pacifica in a concert celebrating the release of their new recording Nourishment.

Tickets for all Spring 2015 shows are now available through brownpapertickets.com. Also open to the public are the many master classes provided by these visiting artists and others.

Cornish Presents Spring 2015 Season


Ben Wendel Quartet
January 25 at 8 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Kneebody mainstay Ben Wendel returns to Seattle with his latest project, a blazing new quartet featuring the pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Harish Raghavan, and drummer Eric Harland.  Presented in association with Earshot Jazz

Thumbscrew
February 8 at 8 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Thumbscrew brings together three of the most adventurous souls in jazz today: Mary Halvorson (guitar), Michael Formanek (double bass), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). Presented in association with Earshot Jazz

Vijay Iyer Trio
February 21 at 8 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Described by The Village Voice as “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years,” Vijay Iyer brings his trio to Seattle once again for this special concert. Concert made possible with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Doris Duke Foundation. Presented in association with Earshot Jazz

Peter Mack
February 22 at 7 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Cornish faculty member and nationally known Steinway artist Dr. Peter Mack presents a solo piano recital featuring seldom heard gems from the 19th and 20th Century piano repertoire.

René Marie
March 24 at 8 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Daring singer, actress, performer René Marie sings selections from her new album, I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt.

Lim + Watras + Vu + Poor
March 29 at 7 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
The accomplished classical music duo of Michael Jinsoo Lim (violin) and Melia Watras (viola) teams up with jazz greats Cuong Vu (trumpet) and Ted Poor (drums). Lim and Watras start the evening with compositions for violin and viola and are joined on the second half by Vu and Poor for a set of improvised music.

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis
April 7 at 8 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
“A trombonist and composer with far-ranging credentials, Ryan Keberle is onto something with Catharsis, his update of a pianoless post-bop quartet,” writes Nate Chinen in The New York Times.

Gamelan Pacifica
April 12 at 7 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Gamelan Pacifica celebrates the release of its new recording Nourishmentfeaturing works by Lou Harrison, Philip Glass, Al. Suwardi, Jessika Kenney, Stephen Fandrich, and Jarrad Powell. An audience favorite for more than 30 years, the adventurous Javanese gamelan ensemble Gamelan Pacifica is under the direction of noted composer and Cornish College of the Arts Professor Jarrad Powell. “With an air of timelessness, Gamelan Pacifica has done an unparalleled job of taking gamelan music to new heights, while remaining respectful to the roots and cultural significance of its instruments.” - SOMA Magazine

An Evening with Dawn Clement
April 14 at 8 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Pianist/composer Dawn Clement presents a special concert featuring a set of her new works for string quartet and voice featuring violist Mara Gearman, cellist Paige Stockley, and violinists Mischa Schmidt and Adrianna Hulscher, as well as a set of solo piano improvisations by Clement. 

Benjamin Verdery
April 17 at 8 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Hailed for his innovative and eclectic musical career, guitarist and composer Benjamin Verdery performs at Cornish in conjunction with the 2015 Northwest Guitar Festival.

CORNISH PRESENTS: SPRING 2015 MASTER CLASSES

All master classes are free and open to the public and do not require a ticket. All master classes occur at Cornish College’s PONCHO Concert Hall in the historic Kerry Hall at 710 East Roy Street in Seattle.

The Tiptons Sax Quartet and Drums
January 15 at 12 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall

The Tiptons saxophone quartet members AmyDenio (alto sax, clarinet, voice), Jessica Lurie (alto and tenor sax and voice), Tina Richerson (baritone saxophone and
voice),  Sue Orfield (tenor sax, voice) and Tarik Abouzied (drums) share their own approach to music-making with Cornish student musicians.

Thumbscrew
February 9 at 12 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
The jazz trio - Mary Halvorson (guitar), Michael Formanek (double bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums)  - presents a master class.

New West Guitar Group
February 18 at 12 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
The cutting-edge guitar ensemble New West Guitar Group (John Storie, Perry Smith and Jeff Stein) presents a master class.

Morgan Smith
February 26 at 12 p.m.
One of America's top young baritones today, Morgan Smith returns to Cornish to present a master class for classical vocalists.

Hal Galper
March 3 at 1 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Noted jazz pianist Hal Galper presents a master class for Cornish student jazz composers and pianists.

René Marie
March 24 at 1 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Daring singer, actress, and writer René Marie conducts a master class with Cornish vocal jazz students.

Ryan Keberle
April 7 at 1 p.m.
PONCHO Concert Hall
Trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle presents a master class.

More About Cornish Presents


For more than than 35 years, Cornish College of the Arts’ professional music series has introduced Seattle audiences to both emerging artists and established masters in jazz, chamber music, world music, electronic arts, and more. Whether in theintimate PONCHO Concert Hall on Capitol Hill or the larger Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center, these low-cost concerts and the accompanying free master classes enhance not only the student experience at Cornish but also provide musicians and music lovers in the community a way to connect with the artists.


Cornish Throws a TASK Party for Everyone

Update: Happy, whirring, spinning pandemonium in the Beebe Building at Cornish's Main Campus as Oliver Herring's TASK Party blew open the doors January 16. With the crush and the constant action it was hard to count, but some 150-200 people took a task from the box and wrote one for someone else. Participants built castles, became robots, were invisible, hugged random folks, painted the floor, and carried out all manner of other creative, assigned tasks. The afternoon and early evening put collaboration and creative thinking on display. According to Art Department chair Christy Johnson, TASK was a wonderful introduction to the spirit of the department's new core curriculum it shares with the Design and Film+Media departments.

See more images from the TASK Party on the Cornish Facebook page.


Jan 8. It’s not everyday that a Cornish event calls for participants from the community, not just audience members and viewers. The concept and brainchild of Oliver Herring, TASK events have been held around the country in all kinds of venues. On Friday, January 16, from 2 pm to 6 pm, Cornish’s revamped Art Department acts as host, inviting members of the community to its Main Campus Beebe Building on 9th Avenue. The TASK Party is open to the public and absolutely free of charge. No one has to be an artist to take part, no one has to have any skills, and age doesn’t matter.

Participants don't bring anything to the event but themselves — and a friend or two, if they wish. “The tools are your imagination,” event creator Oliver Herring says of TASK, “and your imagination is limitless.”

Structured like a game, TASK is an improvisational event with a simple structure and very few rules. It’s art, but its meant to be fun and it is fun. Each participant draws a slip of paper with a task written on it from a box or bucket and follows the simple instructions and replaces it with a task they have invented. It’s that simple. The room is filled with tape and cardboard and paint and foil and all sorts of other materials with which to accomplish the tasks. What happens next is unpredictable except that it’s predictably fascinating as individuals grow together into a creative machine:

TASK’s open-ended, participatory structure creates almost unlimited opportunities for a group of people to interact with one another and their environment. TASK's flow and momentum depend on the tasks written and interpreted by its participants. In theory anything becomes possible. The continuous conception and interpretation of tasks is both chaotic and purpose driven. It is a complex, ever shifting environment of people who connect with one another through what is around them. It is also a platform for people to express and test their own ideas in an environment without failure and success (TASK always is what it is) or any other preconceptions of what can or should be done with an idea or a material. People’s tasks become absorbed into other people’s tasks, objects generated from one task are recycled into someone else’s task without issues of ownership or permanence."

In 2002, Oliver Herring created the improvisatory art event, which is really an ongoing series of events, workshops and parties in which participants of all ages and demographics collectively dream up instructions and carry them out with the materials provided. Increasingly, TASK is becoming a tool in classrooms and communities to access contemporary art in a way that is experimental, open-ended, and accessible to anyone.

Herring’s work has been exhibited widely. In the United States, his work has been shown at the MOMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney Museum of Art, the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and The Frye Art Museum, among many others.  Internationally, his work has been seen in London, Kyoto, Nagano, Lyon, and Erfurt, Germany. Herring was featured on Season 3 of PBS’s program Art21, Art in the 21st Century


Erickson, Carter Named Performance Production Interim Chairs

Professor Ron Erickson. Photo by Star Rush.

Erickson, Carter Named Performance Production Interim Chairs

Cornish Provost Moira Scott Payne has announced the appointment of Ron Erickson and Greg Carter as interim co-chairs of the Performance Production Department. They have already assumed their duties. The two replace long-time Cornish professor and chair of Performance Production Dave Tosti-Lane

"I am pleased to have Greg and Ron in this shared position," wrote Scott Payne, "and am confident their leadership will serve the department and college well."

Associate professor Greg Carter is the founding artistic director of Strawberry Theatre Workshop, where he has directed Our TownThis Land: Woody GuthrieInherit the WindGutenberg! The Musical!, and An Enemy of the People.  "Strawshop" won the 2007 Stranger Genius Award for an Arts Organization, and was nominated in four consecutive years for the TPS Gregory Award for Outstanding Production between 2010-13.  Carter is the former production manager at Book-It Repertory Theatre, where he designed scenery for productions on the stages of Seattle Rep, ACT, Intiman, and On the Boards.  He has also designed for Portland Center Stage, Seattle Symphony, Cornish, and designed puppets for ACT.  

At Cornish, Carter teaches classes in stage management, scenic design, and scenic construction. He has served as the lead contract negotiator for the Cornish Federation of Teachers since 2003 and served as president of the faculty Senate Executive Committee in 2013-14.  

Ron Erickson has designed costumes and scenery for many northwest theaters. His theater credits include designs for Pacific Northwest Ballet, Intiman, Tacoma Opera, Spectrum Dance, Book-It Theater, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Taproot Theater, and Strawberry Theater Workshop, among others.  Ron is currently Head of Wardrobe at Seattle Opera.

Erickson has taught at Cornish College for more than 30 years and is a founding faculty member of the Performance Production Department, where he is a professor and the area head of costume design. He has received three Excellence in Teaching Awards at Cornish College. He has studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and has a BFA in sculpture from the University of Washington. 


Scholastic Art & Writing Awards at Cornish

Student work for the Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards at Cornish on display at the Playhouse. Photo by Mark Bocek.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards at Cornish

Cornish hosted the Washington regionals for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for high school students from every part of the state save Snohomish County. The students were honored at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center on Sunday, January 11. An exhibition of the students' work currently is on display in the lobby of the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center from now through January 23rd on selected dates and times. Award winners at this level will go on to nationals at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Cornish Vice President for Enrollment Management Jonathan Lindsay said the College's support the awards is a natural extension of its work developing artists and innovators. The awards "creates an opportunity to build relationships with area art educators, helps us to identify strong students, and enhances the visibility of the College," he said.

The individual pieces submitted "made us smile, think, laugh and wonder," said Craig Snyder, Assistant Director of Admission and Adjunct Professor, Art / Humanities and Sciences Department. "Collectively, the work it made us appreciate that art instruction is alive and well in middle schools and high schools and that art is still a powerful tool to communicate with others."

Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of students  in grades 7 through 12The national program relies on regional affiliate partners to bring the Awards to local communities. Teens from public, private, or home schools, applied in a variety of categories of art and writing for a chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited and published. Each year, an increasing number of teens have participated in the program - 255,000 original works were submitted to the program overall last year.

More information on the exhibition.


Since its founding, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have established an amazing track record for identifying the early promise of such creative talents as Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Cy Twombly, Robert Indiana, Kay WalkingStick, and John Baldessari; writers Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Bernard Malamud, Maya Goldberg, and Joyce Carol Oates; photographer Richard Avedon (who won for poetry); actors Frances Farmer, Robert Redford, Alan Arkin, and John Lithgow; and filmmakers Stan Brakhage, Ken Burns, and Richard Linklater.

"In our inaugural year of hosting the awards at Cornish, we received over 1000 entries from 500+ students," said Lindsay. More than 200 works from 125 individual artists were found worthy of Honorable Mention, Silver Key or Gold Key Awards, and many of these award winners can be seen as part of the exhibition currently on display in the lobby of the Cornish Playhouse.

"As a native Seattleite, it was a great honor to witness the breadth of strong work coming from students across the state of Washington," said Emily Gewax, Admission Counselor.

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A list of all artists receiving Honorable Mention, Silver Key, or Gold Key Awards can be found here.


Cornish Looks Beautiful At 100

Student volunteers mingled with the guests at the Paramount.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

Cornish Looks Beautiful At 100

Cornish College of the Arts celebrated 100 years in Seattle on Friday, November 14, 2014, with a Centennial Gala at the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St. The sold-out event attracted a record number of alumni, past and present trustees, and Seattle notables.

Graduate Mary Lambert headlined the entertainment in the grand gold-and-white theater that originally was built in the silent movie heyday. Overlooking the formally attired crowd, all black tie and ball gowns in normally laidback Seattle, Lambert remarked, “You look so beautiful out there. Like the Titanic. But we’re going to be OK.” 

Currently on tour supporting her new record, “Heart On My Sleeve,” Lambert and her band sang an expanded version of the hook she wrote for Macklemore’s “Same Love” called “She Keeps Me Warm,” followed by “Body Love,” and “Red Lipstick.” After graduating in 2011 with a Bachelors in Music from Cornish, Lambert was  nominated for a Grammy and signed to Capitol Records.

In honor of Cornish’s 100th anniversary, long-time supporters James and Sherry Raisbeck, joined by Carl and Renée Behnke, started the “Raise the Paddle” with each couple pledging of $100,000. Additional donations, including sponsorships and matching funds brought the final evening total to $850,000. The net proceeds of the Gala will fund student scholarships.

Founder Nellie Cornish started her school on November 14, 1914, in Seattle, WA. Today the college’s campus includes facilities in the three neighborhoods: a 1921 historic landmark on Capitol Hill, multiple buildings in the South Lake Union neighborhood that serves as a home to Seattle tech giants such as Amazon.com, and the Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center.

“Throughout  its history, Cornish has been defined by innovation, risk-taking, and creativity,” said Cornish College of the Arts President Nancy J. Uscher during her opening remarks. “What is profoundly exciting in 2014 is that Cornish is expanding the thinking about the role of the artist in contemporary society. And we are leading the arts higher education community in this transformative work.”

Before and during a supper catered by Tom Douglas Catering, guests also were entertainedby animation performance artist Miwa Matreyek, and several student performances. Actor and Cornish faculty member Timothy McCuen Piggee acted as the host for the evening. Speakers included Dr. Nancy J. Uscher,Chair of the Board Virginia Anderson, and a special surprise guest, Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray.

In honor of Cornish's Centennial, Murray proclaimed November 14, 2014, as Cornish College of the Arts Day in Seattle. A similar announcement was sent to the Gala by Governor Jay Inslee in recognition of Cornish’s contributions to Washington State. Letters of congratulations were received from Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

More About Centennial Sponsors:

The Cornish Centennial Gala set new records due in part to the following sponsors:  Amazon, Boeing, Bon Appetit, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Foster Pepper, KeyBank, Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, Merriman, The Rainier Group, Seattle Theatre Group, The Vance Corporation, and Weinstein A+U.

The  Centennial Gala kicked off a year-long Centennial Celebration for the College that will be marked by a series of events throughout the year. The Honorary Committee for the Centennial Celebration includes: Eve and Chap Alvord (Co-Chairs), Ida Cole, Dave Dederer, Joshua and Pam Green, Sherry and James Raisbeck, Scott Redman and Shawn Anderson, Norm and Constance Rice, Jon Shirley, David Skinner and Catherine Eaton Skinner, Julie Speidel, Severt Thurston, Howard S. Wright and Katherine Janeway, Virginia Wyman, The Honorable Ed Murray, Major of Seattle, Jim Kelly of 4Culture, Randy Engstrom from the Office of Arts & Culture, David Armstrong from The 5th Avenue Theatre, Jim Baker of Pilchuck Glass School, Kurt Beattie from ACT Theatre, Peter Boal from Pacific Northwest Ballet, Stefano Catalani from Bellevue Arts Museum, Lane Czaplinski from On the Boards, Luis Croquer from The Henry Gallery, Leonard Garfield of MOHAI, Robert Hunt of Village Theatre, Josh LaBelle from Seattle Theatre Group, and Aidan Lang from Seattle Opera.

Support  for the Centennial Celebration year is made possible by the following sponsors: Bernstein Global Wealth Management, City Arts, Hermanson, Peterson Sullivan, Sellen, Vulcan, Willis of Seattle, and the Cornish Residence Hall Partners, which includes Capstone Development Partners, Ankrom Moisan, Cochran, Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Holaday-Parks, Howard S. Wright, and Raymond Northwest.

Pictured: Student volunteers at the Centennial Gala, photo by Mark Bocek


Baker Named Interim Music Chair

Tom Baker (left) with Triptet. Photo by courtesy of artist.

Baker Named Interim Music Chair

Tom Baker, DMA, officially assumes his new position as interim chair of the Music Department on January 1, 2015, but his appointment already is creating buzz and excitement with local music media and professionals familiar with his work. According to Provost Moira Scott Payne, music study at Cornish will benefit from Baker’s previous experience as a faculty member as well as his lengthy professional resume.

“I am delighted to welcome Tom to this position,” said Scott Payne. “The department, and indeed the whole college, will benefit from his contributions. We look forward to a bright future under his capable direction.” 

Baker is ready for the challenge. “I am very excited to step into this position at what is an exceptional time here at Cornish College of the Arts,” he said. “I look forward to working through this period of great change in collaboration with the students, my faculty colleagues and our dedicated administration. The future seems open to a multitude of possibilities.”

Dr. Baker takes the place of Kent Devereaux ’84 who is leaving the Music Department and his alma mater for the presidency of the New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA). Baker has been a faculty member in the department since 2011.  He has been teaching composition, music theory, electronic music, and inter-arts at the College. Baker received his doctorate in composition in 1996 (Doctor of Musical Arts) from the University of Washington. He also holds a master’s degree in classical guitar performance from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree from Boise State University. Before coming to Cornish, he taught composition and music theory for thirteen years at the University of Washington.

Baker has been active as a composer, performer, and music producer in the new-music scene since arriving in Seattle in 1994. He is the artistic director of the Seattle Composers’ Salon, co-founder of the Seattle EXperimental Opera (SEXO), and an advisory board member of the Washington Composers’ Forum.

Baker’s works have been performed throughout the United States and Canada, and in Europe. His two most recent chamber operas, The Gospel of the Red-Hot Stars (2006) and Hunger: The Journey of Tamsen Donner (2008), were both premiered by the Seattle EXperimental Opera and are available on the Present Sounds label. Baker is also active as a performer, specializing in fretless guitar and live electronics. His group, Triptet, released their third album, Figure in the Carpet, on Engine Records in 2012.


Hang Ups Draws Crowd of Poster Lovers

2014 winners of Hang Ups.. Photo by Robynne Raye.

Hang Ups Draws Crowd of Poster Lovers

Robynne Raye declared that Hang Ups: Cornish Poster Show was a great success. "We had more than 200 people present at the event, with many student coming in from area schools including Seattle Central College, the University of Washington, and Shoreline Community College," said Raye, a Cornish faculty member and the co-founder of design studio Modern Dog.

The show was held at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center where designers Art Chantry, Frida Clements, Jesse Le Doux, Derek Vander Griend, Shawn Wolfe, Dan Shafer, and Raye led a lively discussion on the state of the art.

Attendees viewed the student work and the judges awarded eight prizes. Runner-ups each received $50 and Best of Show was awarded a cash prize of $500. (All prize money was donated by Modern Dog Design Co.). In addition. the eight posters that placed during the show were invited to be in the permanent archives of Cornish College of the Arts by Cornish archive librarian Bridget Nowlin.

"I would like to congratulate my entire class for the additional planning, branding, marketing, and installation design that went beyond the class requirements," said Raye. "Their efforts made came together to form a memorable presentation."


Judges Choice Awards
Art Chantry: Mica Gaxiola-Flynn (2D or not 2D)
Frida Clements: Renee Legaux (Keaton Henson)
Jesse LeDoux: Haley Luden (No More Meat)
Derek Vander Griend: Zach Davis (Japanese Experimental Film Festival)
Shawn Wolfe: Kat Curtis (Pay it Forward)

Second Runner-up: Noelle Hoffman (Floss)

First Runner-up: Robert Baxter (The Black Keys)

Best of Show: Alex Wallace (Ingmar Bergman)


Clues to Music Development Found In Bird Song

Emily Doolittle. Photo by Photo supplied by E. Doolittle.

Clues to Music Development Found In Bird Song

“We need to be careful not to just project sound structures we are familiar with on to animal songs,” said Emily Doolittle, an assistant professor of music at Cornish who worked on the study about the possible relationship between bird song and human musical scales.  “But if we avoid looking at pitch relationships entirely, than we are missing out an an important way to understand the songs.”

In new research recently published, faculty members from Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA, Philipps University of Marburg, Germany, and University of Vienna, Austria, demonstrated that the bird songs share certain traits with human music.

This research is the first to demonstrate note selection from the harmonic series occurs in the “song” of a non-human animal. The study, published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (PNAS), is particularly relevant to the ongoing nature/nurture debate about whether musical traits, such pitch relationships, are biologically or culturally driven.

Doolittle and her colleagues found a North American songbird, the hermit thrush, uses notes that are generally related by simple integer proportions similar to that found in human music and that hermit thrushes probably select the pitches they sing. To arrive at this conclusion, Doolittle and Tecumseh Fitch of the University of Vienna analyzed high-quality recordings of the songs of 14 male hermit thrushes. Bruno Gingras, University of Vienna, and Dominik Endres, Philipps University of Marburg, then used two different statistical methods to demonstrate that the notes of the hermit thrush song were related to an overtone series.

Further research is needed to explain why hermit thrushes choose to sing pitches whose relationship follows the harmonic series. One possibility, mentioned by the researchers, is that female hermit thrushes may evaluate a male’s singing accuracy by its ability to follow the overtone series. Another possibility is that, like humans, hermit thrushes find it easier to remember or process pitches that follow the overtone series.

“A number of my compositions are inspired by bird or other animal songs, in various different ways,” said Doolittle. “I’m fascinated by the fact that bird and other animal songs are created by other living beings that are making choices about what they sing, but with minds so different than our own. Writing music based on animal song is, for me, a way of trying to understand the world from a perspective completely different than my own.”

This research, along with other work along the same lines, can help scientists and musicians better understand the relationship of nature as well as nurture when it comes to creating music.


Ferguson Piece Leads CDT Fall Concert Lineup

Mystery of Iniquity, Iyun Ashani Harrison’s offering for the Cornish Dance Theater Fall Concert, does not look back: the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is today’s news. The events set in motion by the shooting of a young, weaponless African-American man by a police officer are not just fresh in our collective memory, they are searing. Harrison writes: “The piece is created in solidarity with the national outcry against police brutality.” Mystery of Iniquity, which is premiering at the concert, was a collaboration of Harrison’s and the group of sophomore’s dancing the piece.

For the first time, the concert took place at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, a theater built for the 1962 World's Fair.

Cornish Dance Theater (CDT) is the performing ensemble of the Dance Department at Cornish College of the Arts.  The CDT Fall 2014 Concert featured choreography by Harrison and faculty and guest choreographers José Limón, Vivian Little, Amy O’Neal ‘99, and Michele Miller.

Appearing along with the premiere of Mystery of Iniquity, were: Opus Provoco, choreographed by Vivian Little; No Excuses (2010), choreographed by Amy O’Neal ‘99 with rehearsal assistant Alice Gosti; Suite from A Choreographic Offering, choreographed by José Limón with staging and direction by Brenna Monroe-Cook; and I AM the Bully, choreographed by Michele Miller in collaboration with Catapult Dance.