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Cornish Playhouse Offers Space To Create

Charles McCall, foreground, and Patrick Milan rehearse at Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.. Photo: Courtesy of artist.

Cornish Playhouse Offers Space To Create

In a city where the space to create is hard to find, Cornish Playhouse offers artists interested in collaborations a little room to grow.

The Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator program is open to any artist over the age of 18 and is aimed primarily at those interested in trying something that stretches their boundaries, such as the collaboration between Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Charles McCall and poet Andriana Compoy. Working in the lobbies of the Playhouse, the pair combined poetry and dance to create a retelling of the changeling boy’s story from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. During a
run-through on Sunday, McCall, Campoy, Lauren Kirchner, and Patrick Milan flowed up and down the stairs, stepped into the outdoor courtyard, and ended the piece in the Founders Room on the second level.

It was, said McCall, a performance that concentrated mostly on one side of the building, seeking to get the right balance of puckish spirit and otherworld activities. For the next rehearsal, he intended to stage movements on the opposite stairs and create a “real world” counterpart for the piece, which at its heart explores identity and what it means to belong to two worlds at once. From McCall’s singing of the Irish classic “Danny Boy” to Campoy’s turns on the staircase and recitations of other poets’words, both employed and enjoyed creating art outside of their regular milieus.

The public is invited to see The Changeling Project this Thursday, July 2, with two free performances at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Cornish Playhouse’s lobby, 201 Mercer Street. McCall and Campoy hope that they will stay after the work is done and give feedback during a Q&A session.

“The goal of this program is not to create a final, polished product,” said Playhouse Manager Liisa Spink, who dropped into the rehearsal still adorned with glitter and rainbows from marching in Sunday’s Pride Parade. “We want to give artists time and space to incubate an idea or concept and explore it. We also see this as part of being on campus at the Seattle Center and providing a public benefit to the Seattle community.”

The 2014/15 recipients of the first Cornish Arts Incubator Awards were Coleman Pester and Nico Tower, Wesley K. Andrews and Jess K. Smith, Angelina Baldoz and KT Shores, Alice Gosti, Jessica Hatlo and Rosa Vissers (PE|Mo), Charles McCall and Adriana Compoy, Julia Greenway and Jessica Hoffman, Strawberry Theater Workshop, and Carl Lawrence.

The 2015/16 recipients will be selected and announced in July. Applications are now open. See this page in the Playhouse section for more information.


Nicolella Discusses CDs and Concerts

Guitarist/composer Tom Baker (Cornish’s interim chair of music) and guitarist/composer Michael Nicolella (Cornish faculty member) not only work together at Kerry Hall but also find their musical careers intersecting outside of the college. Nicolella plays one of Baker’s compositions during his solo concert tomorrow night (June 27) in Seattle.

Earlier this month, they chatted online about how Nicolella chooses work for a concert or CD as well as some of his musical influences.

BAKER: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Your programming choices are always unique and fascinating. How do you go about choosing work for a concert or a CD, and what kind of parameters do you have on the kind of music you perform?

It is a bit different for an album than a concert. With recordings I tend towards a theme of some sort, I’m not a big fan of the classical potpourri “recital” discs. My last album was my own arrangement of the complete Cello Suite cycle of J.S. Bach and my previous four albums were all contemporary discs.  Each one of those shared a similar aesthetic - mixing modern masterworks by more established contemporary composers (Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, Toru Takemitsu) with works premiered by me, written by younger emerging composers and my own compositions as well; mixing solo pieces with chamber and orchestral works; and classical guitar pieces with electric guitar music.

With concerts I lean towards an even more eclectic and varied approach.  I most often present a concert which ranges from more traditional works for classical guitar, to contemporary music for electric guitar and everything in between. When that’s the case, it is as if I am “composing” the program.  I take into account everything from the tempi and key choices to the expressive nature of each piece, trying to find works that complement each other. And, of course, it all has to be music which I genuinely enjoy playing and which I feel has real artistic merit. The truth is that I enjoy listening to an extremely wide range of music, so it makes sense to me that I would perform an equally wide range of repertoire.

On your recent recording of the complete Bach cello suites, there are some  remarkable passages that sound different than most other arrangements.  How do you approach making a guitar arrangement of traditional classical  music written for a completely different instrument? Do you consult the  arrangements that Bach himself made in that manner, or do you consult  other arrangements?

With any arrangement, I feel that there are three criteria which need to be met. First of all, it is music that I truly love, second the arrangement has to, in some manner, present the music in a light not obvious in its original instrumentation and thirdly it should take advantage of the guitar’s assets. The Bach cello suite arrangements are a good example. First it is some of the greatest music ever written, who wouldn’t want to play them?! And as to the last two requisites: the guitar is much more adept at polyphony and counterpoint than the cello, so my attempt was to capitalize on this and highlight more of the music’s somewhat hidden harmonic qualities.  To simply play what is written for the cello, on the guitar, would not present the piece in a different manner; and in a single line to single line competition the guitar would fail miserably next to the vocal like expressivity of the cello. Fortunately, this is all spelled out in Bach’s own arrangement of the fifth cello suite for the guitar’s ancestor- the lute.  So while I did not consciously consult other guitar arrangements, I slavishly referred to Bach’s own lute arrangement as a template which guided all my decisions regarding added bass lines, filled out harmonies, note durations, etc. in the remaining five suites.

As a performer of both classical and electric guitars, your concerts are often full of varied styles and influences. Who are some of your  influences as a classical performer, and then as an electric player?

Oddly enough the eminent British guitarist and lutenist Julian Bream was a strong influence not just in my classical guitar playing, but in my decision to incorporate the electric guitar into my work.  I think of electric in a similar manner as Bream did with lute - it has become another important color in my palette. Besides that, Bream’s intense expressivity coupled with his search for a more artistically substantial repertoire for the classical guitar was extremely inspiring. I guess my influences tend towards the mavericks and searchers: Glenn Gould, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, and Igor Stravinsky.

If you were to have taken a different career path altogether, what do you think you would be doing now?

Hmmm, maybe an actor. Increasingly, I imagine striking similarities between interpreting music and playing a role.

Since  we both work at Cornish College of the Arts, maybe you could say a few  words about how absolutely cool it is to teach there and why?

Cornish is really unlike any other art school and, in particular, music conservatory of which I am familiar.  There is a stressed balance between artistic fundamentals and discipline coupled with intense creativity and expression, which, at least for me, is the core of great art making. 

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Nicolella's solo concert on June 27, 7:30 pm, is at Queen Anne Christian Church, 1316 3rd Ave W, in Seattle. Tickets are $15/10 students available from Brown Paper Tickets. Nicolella will perform solo works by Franz Schubert, Isaac Albeniz, Fernando Sor, Philip Glass,Jimi Hendrix, Tom Baker, and Jacob TV.


Cornish@Amazon Summer Outdoor Concert Series Returns

Judd Wasserman ’08. Photo: Courtesy of artist.

Cornish@Amazon Summer Outdoor Concert Series Returns

Cornish College of the Arts’ popular free summer concert series returned to Van Vorst Plaza today. The series kicked off with Judd Wasserman ’08.   A musician living in Seattle, he has been solo support for Lights Siberia Acoustic’s Northwest tour and has shared the stage with members of The Presidents of the United States of America, The Posies, Flight to Mars, Screaming Trees, Unwound. Recently he appeared in the film Kurt Cobain About A Son while collaborating with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab) and Steve Fisk.

Like many Cornish graduates, Wasserman is an accomplished music maker as well as performer. He has composed pieces for the Saint Helens string quartet, Pacific Rim Percussion, and Seattle Chamber Ensemble. For The Pasties, he recorded, mixed, and produced their second album, Bikes Are Sexy.  He also has produced many of his own albums.

Now in its third year, Cornish@Amazon concert series in South Lake Union features a diverse selection of music played by Cornish students, faculty and alumni. From Latin to contemporary jazz, pop to bluegrass, there’s something new every Thursday from June 18 to Oct 1 at noon.

Current line-up for Cornish@Amazon is:

June 18: Judd Wasserman ’08 – guitar/vocals

June 25: Lucas Winter Trio  – Lucas Winter ’16 – guitar, Lamar Lofton ’96 – bass, Adam Kessler ‘06 - drums

July 2: Whitney Lyman ’09 – guitar and vocals

July 9: Mark Ivester Quartet – Mark Ivester (faculty) - drums, Chuck Deardorf (faculty) - bass, Gene Argel – piano, Jay Thomas (faculty) – horns

July 16: AC4  – Anthony Cammarota ’14 – guitar, Matthew Singler – drums, Darian Asplund ’10 – saxophone, Farko Dosumov – bass 

July 23: Matt Sircely Band  – Matt Sircely (faculty - mandolin), Joseph Mascorella – drums, Chris Herbst – multi-instrumentalist and vocals

July 30: En Canto Quintet – Roselynn De Roos ‘05 – clarinet, Jamie Maschler ‘11 – accordion, Adam Kozie ‘07 – drums, Tim Carey – bass, and Meese Agrawal Tonkin – flute 

August 6: A Cedar Suede – Jamie Maschler ‘11 – accordion, Harold Belskus ‘12 – guitar/vocals, Martin Strand ‘11 – bass, Steve O’Brien ‘11 – trumpet, Tommy Whiteside  ‘12– percussion, Joe Eck ’12 – drums,  and Amanda Fitch – violin

August 13: Michael Powers ’82 – guitar

August 20: The Blackberry Bushes – Jakob Breitbach ’03 – fiddle, Jes Raymond – guitar/vocals, Daniel Ullom – mandolin, Forrest Marowitz – bass, Alex Genova - banjo

August 27: Tomten – Brian Noyeswatkins  – keys/guitar/vocals, Jake Brady '11 – drums, Dillon Sturtevant – bass/vocals/guitar,  Robert Bennett '11 – guitar/vocals

September 3: Taylor Bowyn and Band – Taylor Bowyn ’16 – vocals, Anthony Cammarota ’14 – guitar, Matt Singler – drums, Tim Kennedy – piano

September 10: Sebastian and the Deep Blue – Featuring Barry Sebastian ’10

September 17: Maiah Manser Band  – Maiah Manser, vocals

September 24: Tai Shan ’09 

October 1: TBA

For more information on each performance and the alumni/student connection, please see the Cornish events calendar.

Interested in a music career? Tell us more about what you're looking for in a college education at our Admission page.


Cornish Joins New MOOC Site Aimed At The Arts

Open to learners anywhere in the world, Kadenze.com launched on June 16 with “Introduction to Graphic Illustration,” a "MOOC" (Massive Open Online Course) from Cornish College of the Arts.  Taught by faculty member Junichi Tsuneoka, students can explore the integration of design principals and drawing skills as well as gain an opportunity to discover new possibilities for illustrated visual expression in the market. Through six sessions available online, Tsuenoka begins with general project process and works through the principles of good illustration, stylization tips, compositional studies, digital tools demonstrations, and the creation of an illustrative trade ad using hand-drawn typography and a product photo.  Like other MOOCs offered on Kadenze.com, students can follow along for free or register for credit.

Kadenze’s other education partners include Princeton University, Stanford University, California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, Otis College of Art and Design, California College of the Arts, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Goldsmiths University of London, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Miami, Seoul Institute of the Arts, University of Saint Joseph in Macau, University College Cork in Ireland, National University of Singapore, and the Processing Foundation.

“Many students who dream of studying creative arts and technology face crippling financial barriers or simply don’t have access to educational opportunities,” said Dr. Ajay Kapur, PhD, the CEO and co-founder of Kadenze Inc. “Whether they are trying to prepare for college, return to school, or simply expand their education, I believe that everyone should have access to the highest quality education available. Together with our strong academic partners, we strive to make that access a reality.”

Designed to fill a void in the online education world with its arts-focused offerings, Kadenze’s technology platform enables media-rich lessons and assignment submissions, including algorithms to analyze and measure students’ performance and progress as they complete courses.

“Cornish College of the Arts is delighted to be participating in this historic launch,” said Cornish’s President, Nancy J. Uscher, PhD. “The importance of this access to arts education cannot be overstated. We’re proud to join Kadenze to be one of the trail-blazers, venturing into this new educational framework that stands for quality, bold thinking, creativity, and relevance in art education, and open to all.”

At Kandenze.com, students can choose the option that best  fits their needs:
Free: Enroll in any available course, watch video lectures, participate in forums;
Premium: Submit assignments, receive grades, build and share portfolio and resume, receive discounts in Kadenze bookstore, take courses for credit, and more;
Credit: Take courses for actual college credit.

“Kadenze offers students the opportunity to learn from the best and brightest in arts-focused education. We view ourselves as a bridge, and our goal is to connect students and institutions in a way that elevates everyone,” said Dr. Perry Cook, PhD., executive vice president and co-founder of Kadenze, Inc. “We have worked hard to execute on our specific vision, and today we are honored to share Kadenze.com with the world.”


Cornish Alumni Share Kudos for SIFF Audience Favorite Documentary

Still image from "Even the Walls" by Saman Maydani and Sarah Kuck. Photo: Cahn Nguyen '12.

Cornish Alumni Share Kudos for SIFF Audience Favorite Documentary

​The film, Even the Walls, selected for showing at the Seattle Film Festival (SIFF) threw light on the gentrification of Yessler Terrace. The long-time public housing development in Seattle faces extreme pressure as one of the last islands of low-income housing in a city with spiraling rents. It was a resonant theme with festival audiences, and when the festival was over, they selected it as "Best Short Film." The accomplishment was shared by three members of the film's seven-person team who are Cornish graduates: director of photography Canh Nguyen '12, sound engineer Adam McCollom '96, and composer Carlos Esparza '07. Even the Walls was directed, edited, and produced by Saman Maydani and Kirby Grey, working with producer Kirby Grey and consulting producer Warren Etheredge.

Since Cornish's program in Film + Media is brand new, it may surprise many that Cornish grads are already out in the world succeeding in this area. Allowed to follow their interests within existing Cornish departments, students have been involved for some time now in producing and working on film and media projects. In fact, the College's mixture of fine and performing arts and its long history of collaboration and working across boundaries has made this easy. Canh Nguyen is a textbook example of this. He graduated from the Art department’s video art track yet was a principle cinematographer with the Theater department’s 2012 Creating Digital Drama ensemble. Carlos Esparza holds a BFA in art from Cornish, yet composed the music for the film. Sound engineer Adam McCollom graduated in music.

Even the Walls Trailer from Saman Maydani on Vimeo.


Neddy Artist Award Finalists Announced

Wynne Greenwood Big Candy, 2008 Still from video. Photo: Courtesy of artist.

Neddy Artist Award Finalists Announced

Robin Held, director of the Neddy Artist Awards, announced today the 2015 finalists. In painting, they are Matt Browning, Paul Komada, Elise Richman and Robert Yoder. For open medium, they are: Leo Saul Berk, Wynne Greenwood, Mark Mitchell and Rodrigo Valenzuela. All the finalists will participate in studio visits by a National Juror, an esteemed arts professional from outside the region, who will determine the Neddy Artist Awardees. Two of the artists, one in each category, will receive the Neddy Artist Award, an unrestricted cash award of $25,000.

The Neddy Artist Awards, housed at Cornish College of the Arts, are among the largest artist awards in the State of Washington, providing two annual, unrestricted gifts of $25,000 to artists living and working in the greater Puget Sound region as well as smaller cash grants of $1,500 to all the finalists annually. Established in 1996 by the Behnke family, the Neddy Artist Awards are named for artist Robert E. “Ned” Behnke (1948-1989). Awards are given in the category of painting, Ned’s chosen artistic medium, and open medium, any medium or combination of media grounded in the visual arts.

All finalists’ art will be included in the Neddy Artist Awards Exhibition, September 9 through October 24, 2015, curated by Sharon Arnold of the Roq la Rue Gallery. The exhibition will be held in the Project Space/Main Gallery at Cornish College of the Arts.
The eight finalists are selected from the total pool of applicants by a group of three regional arts professionals, who bring their external perspectives and expertise to the process. From this group of finalists, a national juror from outside the Puget Sound region selects the two Neddy Artist Awards recipients, after conducting studio visits with each artist. Neddy program staff members and their immediate families are not eligible to apply for an award, serve as advisor, or serve as a selection committee member or final juror.

Neddy Artists Awards Selection

The Neddy Artist Awards finalists 2015 were chosen by Negarra Kudumu, Kolya Rice, and Storm Tharp.

Negarra A. Kudumu is a Seattle-based writer, researcher, and professional active in the arts and culture sectors. Her intellectual interests lie in the fields of cultural production and consumption, postcolonial studies, third space theory, and contemporary African and diasporic art. Professionally Negarra focuses on the development and execution of arts education and public programs, as well as community engagement strategies for arts and culture organizations. She has most recently served as the 2014 Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute Artist-in-Residence, is a contributing writer and editor to The Postcolonialist and is currently the educator at the Frye Art Museum.

Kolya Rice is a professor and independent critic/curator whose work focuses on modern and contemporary art history. He is currently a PhD candidate in contemporary art history and criticism at the University of Washington (UW), and received his MA from Rice University. He has taught a wide range of courses on western art, theory and criticism at the University of Washington, Seattle University, and the University of Puget Sound over the last decade, and lectures frequently at Frye Art Museum, and Tacoma Art Museum. He is currently a visiting lecturer at the UW and an associate professor at Cascadia College.

Storm Tharp received a BFA from Cornell University. Following the selection of his work for the 2010 Whitney Biennial, he has become widely known for enigmatic portraits that investigate the performance of identity and abstraction. Recent exhibitions include the Miami Project 2014Tiger, PDX Contemporary and Turn, Feldbuschwiesner Galerie, Berlin. Tharp lives and works in Portland, Oregon, and is represented by PDX Contemporary.
The Neddy Artist Awards honor the art, accomplishments, and community involvement of Seattle painter Ned Behnke (1948-1989). Ned was the son of Robert and Sally Behnke. Deaf from birth, Ned Behnke expressed himself in the visual arts from an early age. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Washington University, and then graduated with a Master’s in Fine Arts, Painting, from the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. He went on to teach hearing-impaired students at Cornish College of the Arts. During his life, Ned Behnke received many national arts awards; among them, a major public art commission by the King County Arts Commission, for the Seattle Hearing and Deafness Center. He exhibited his art widely, with gallery representation, by Foster/White Gallery, Seattle. Ned Behnke died in 1989.
The Neddy Artist Awards are among the largest artist awards in the State of Washington, providing two annual, unrestricted gifts of $25,000. Established in 1996 by the Behnke family, the Neddy Artist Awards are named for artist Robert E. “Ned” Behnke (1948-1989). Cornish College of the Arts has stewarded the award program since 2011, expanding its reach and programming. 

Neddy Artist Awards Honor the Legacy of Ned Behnke

Neddy Artist Awards History

In 1996, the Behnke family, through the Behnke Foundation, established the Neddy Artist Awards, as a way to honor and remember Ned. In the beginning, this was one annual award ($10,000), in the category of painting, Ned’s chosen artistic medium. In 1998, the award program expanded to include two annual awards: one in painting, and a second in a regularly rotating category, such as sculpture, photography, or ceramics, among others. For many years, the award process was by nomination only. In 2011, stewardship of the award program was moved to Cornish College of the Arts, certain adjustments were made, refreshing and expanding the program. The first of the two awards continues in the category of painting; the second is in the category of open Medium. The application process is now an open call to all professional artists in the Puget Sound region.

When stewardship of the Neddy Awards was moved to Cornish College of the Arts in 2011, the impact of the award program was expanded and deepened—for Cornish students, the artist community and the general public—by the addition of an accompanying series of events and activities. This series honors and supports the art and ideas of the Awardees. The Neddy Artist Awards are unrestricted cash gifts. Awardee participation in these programs and activities is optional.

Today the program is overseen by Robin Held, an arts leader with a record of success in shepherding strategic change, value creation, and fundraising in not-for-profit arts and media education, museums, and the private sector. Her past institutional positions include executive director of Reel Girls, which educates, mentors, and equips young women to create transformative media; deputy director of exhibitions and collections, Frye Art Museum, Seattle; and associate curator at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington.

Held has been associated with the Neddy Artist Awards for four years, acting first as an advisor before accepting the role of director in 2015.


Cornish Graduate Mary Lambert Receives SAMHSA Special Recognition Award

Cornish graduate Mary Lambert ‘11 joined U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the 10th anniversary of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day earlier this month.

Lambert served as honorary chairperson of the event, Strengthening Communities by Integrating Care, at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, DC, and performed her hit single “Secrets,” a song that addresses her personal experiences with childhood trauma and bipolar disorder. Secretary Burwell presented her with a SAMHSA Special Recognition Award for her efforts to promote openness about mental health, particularly among children, youth, and young adults with mental and substance use disorders.

“Mary’s fearless honesty has helped make her a role model and a source of encouragement for young people struggling to accept themselves,” said Secretary Burwell. “We applaud her tremendous resilience, her willingness to educate and support others, and for showing that it’s okay to discuss mental health needs.”

Through her interviews and musical credits, including the Grammy-nominated single, “Same Love,” performed with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Lambert has worked to break down barriers. She openly discusses issues related to her experience as a proud member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

“Growing up is difficult for anyone, but for those of us who experience mental disorders or childhood abuse, it can be especially challenging. As an artist living with bi-polar disorder, there are days when it is an accomplishment to just get out of bed." said Lambert. "The sooner we can be honest about our own experiences, the sooner we can focus on our own self-love and self-care. I feel incredibly honored to share my story and be a part of the 10th anniversary of Awareness Day."

Also during the program, previous national event participants Qaiel Peltier, Aneja Rentiri, and Lorrin Gehring, as well as family member Oliver Coleman, highlighted cutting-edge programs that integrate behavioral health with primary health care, child welfare, and education.

SAMHSA’s Awareness Day national event will kicked off activities in more than 1,100 communities and more than 140 public and private collaborating organizations across the country.


ALL RISE and Cornish Present Molly Dilworth Talk

​Someday the empty lot bounded by Denny Way, Pontius Avenue, and John Street in downtown Seattle will crackle with high-voltage electricity, but for a while a gentler power will take hold there. On land earmarked by the City of Seattle for an electrical power station, Brooklyn-based artist Molly Dilworth will be constructing a large scale earthwork, 2124 Miles. Using over 400 cubic yards of dirt and 182 pounds of wildflower and grass seed, Dilworth will transform the site into a living urban meadow under the auspices of ALL RISE, a series of temporary artworks at the substation site administered by the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. On Thursday, May 28, at 5:30 p.m., Dillworth will speak on the project at the Cornish main campus.

The artist’s talk will be held in the Notion Building auditorium at Cornish, which is co-presenting the event, at 1001 Lenora Street. Afterwards, all present are invited to tour the site, which is only a couple of blocks away.

ALL RISE has used this temporary space to mark a transition between last century and ours with a series of artworks. As shipping and port technologies evolved over the last century, formerly industrial areas such as South Lake Union have been redeveloped. In a short time this lot on Denny will be a power station serving the demands of the new buildings.

In recent years, Dilworth has spent time in ports along the Hudson River, studying the history of commerce between the United States and the Caribbean. At the same time, she traveled between her home in New York and Seattle as a freelance worker for a global technology company. The work is named for that commute - the number of miles between the airports of Seattle and New York - made possible by modern global trade.

Molly Dilworth’s works have been commissioned for the Salina Art Center, Salina, KS; World Financial Center Plaza, New York, NY; Times Square, New York, NY; Pulse Projects, New York, NY and exhibited at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR; MASS MOCA; among many, many other organizations.


Cornish Centennial Commencement

Cornish 2015 Commencement before the crowds arrive: (L to R) special advisor to the provost Star Rush, President Nancy Uscher, and Foundations director/chair Dawn Gavin with chairs and special guests behind them.. Photo: Mark Bocek.

Cornish Centennial Commencement

Commencement exercises in the plainest of times are occasions for a redolent mixture of reflection and introspection with a dash of augury; for a college in the midst of its 100th year, this is particularly so. The Centennial class of 2015, with friends and family, filled McCaw Hall to listen to President Nancy J. Uscher, theater icon and keynote speaker Anne Bogart, celebrated choreographer Liz Lerman, and senior Kendra Lee reflect on what has gone before and speak on the challenges of charting a path forward as artists. Bogart and Lerman were awarded honorary degrees by President Uscher. Also speaking were Richard Andriesson ’10 and former Music Chair Kent Devereaux ’82, who was recently appointed president of the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Devereaux received the Distinguished Alumni Award, while Andriessen and artistic partner Jerick Hoffer '10, who could not attend, received Distinguished Recent Alumni Awards.

Noting the many changes in this special year for Cornish, President Uscher spoke glowingly of the department chairs who have recently retired: Dave Tosti-Lane and Ron Erickson in Performance Production, Kitty Daniels in Dance, and, of course, Kent Devereaux. Dr. Uscher then turned her attention to a lingering question at Cornish:

There is a lot of anxiety around the issue about how artists will earn a living. While this important question is justifiably on the minds of young artists, their parents and families, looking at the economic return of an artist’s career is not complete without a discussion about other factors. Reframing the matter leads us to pose questions such as: How will you make meaning of your life? What will have mattered? What is a life well lived?

The return on investment, Doctor Uscher said in finishing, “from a college education, in particular the education at Cornish College of the Arts, has everything to do with nurturing and celebrating your authenticity, discovering what is exceptional about each one of you -- and then encouraging you to develop your singular qualities and grow them.”

Speaking wonderfully for the class of 2015 was Performance Production graduate Kendra Lee. Lee recounted the pain and tribulations of life as a Cornish student, in her address Love Letter to the Tears Cried in Public Bathrooms. In summation, Lee found meaning in all the trials, and that meaning resonated strongly with President Uscher’s remarks on the value of an arts education:

And, most importantly, I found my passion. I found the one thing in this world I was meant to do. The thing that energizes me, that forces me to keep a notebook next to my bed so I can write down the ideas that come all night instead of sleep. I found something that I love more than free time or regular hours or guaranteed financial security.
I found myself.
I learned to stand on my own two feet.
And maybe that’s what the pain was for.
​Congratulations to the Cornish Class of 2015.
Cornish Prep Dance Lights Up Spring with “Variance”

"Variance" poster image, featuring dancers of the Cornish Preparatory Dance Company. Photo: Coleen Dishy.

Cornish Prep Dance Lights Up Spring with “Variance”

The Preparatory Dance Program has long been a vital aspect of dance education at Cornish. The quality work of the young dancers in the program will be on display in Variance, May 16-17 on Capitol Hill at Broadway Performance Hall. Featured choreographers for the program will be José Limón, Limón Dance Company Artistic Director Carla Maxwell, and University of Washington faculty member and Dance Program Director Jennifer Salk. Additional choregraphy will be by Cornish Preparatory Dance Faculty, Steve Casteel, Christine Juarez, Dañela Lewis and Paula J. Peters. Variance will feature special guest performances by Cornish College of the Arts Dance Majors.

Information and tickets.

The Cornish Preparatory Dance Program (CPDP) offers students classical dance training of the highest caliber in the creative learning environment of Seattle's premier college of the arts, Cornish. Whether our students aspire to a professional career, to dance in college, or to study dance for recreational enjoyment, our faculty nurture potential at every level of interest and ability.

Variance, May 16, 3:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m., May 17, 3:00 p.m. At Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Seattle.


Black Box and Dhrupad Days Lead Off Busy Cornish Festival Season

​May blooms forth, the sun lingers on into the night, and in Seattle, it’s festival season. By the time summer ends, all sorts of arts and cultural “fests” will have take place across the city, including one of the largest film festivals in North America, Seattle International Film Festival; the Memorial Day Weekend's Northwest Folklife Festival; the month-long cultural celebration known as Seafair with individual neighborhood fairs and the city's beloved Torchlight Parade; and the never-mind-the-weather Bumbershoot that has grown to be one of the country's major live music festivals and nicely wraps up the summer with multi-day event over Labor Day weekend.

Several smaller festivals also take place on the Cornish campus this summer, including  the experimental film festival Black Box 2.0, the Indian classical music festival Dhrupad Days, the Seattle International Dance Festival, and  the Intiman Theatre Festival.

Cornish Presents ends its season with Dhrupad Days, the major event in America for this ancient musical practice created by Dhrupad Music Institute of America. Participants will assemble at Cornish’s PONCHO Concert Hall on Capitol Hill from all over the country and the world. An ancient style of Hindustani classical music, dhrupad began as devotional music that traces its origin to the ancient texts. This is the third year for the festival on the Cornish campus, and it attracts an international audience of participants.

Cornish Presents Pandit Uday Bhawalkar leads off Dhrupad Days on May 15 with a vocal concert at Kerry Hall in the PONCHO Concert Hall. The next day is a full one, with a Carnatic Violin concert by Shri Raman Iyer, a talk and demonstration of Indian Classical music and the American music tradition with Dr. Payton MacDonald, and finally, Sound In Unison - The Gundecha Brothers and Samvad performs at 7:30 p.m.

Black Box 2.0, an international art, film and technology festival that presents contemporary artists who expand the language of cinema, occurs in multiple locations throughout Seattle, including at Cornish. It includes screenings, exhibitions, events, installations in shipping containers, and an online program. Events on the Cornish campus take place Thursday through Sunday each week. Programming is focused on experimental film, video and new media art. Black Box 2.0 is running now through June 7, and is sponsored, in part, by Cornish's  Institute of Emergent Technology + Intermedia.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Seattle International Dance Festival is centered at Raisbeck Hall on Cornish’s main campus. More than 200 international artists take over the neighborhood. There's workshops and performances, including appearances by many Cornish alumni. This year's festival celebrates Khamabtta Dance's 25th anniversary season. For the closing weekend, the evening dance performances move to the historic Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle. SIDF runs from June 12 to 27. 

Intiman Theatre Festival takes over the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center on August 8, running in both Playhouse venues through October 3. Three plays will be presented, John Baxter is a Switch Hitter and The Children’s Hour on the main stage and Bootycandy in the Alhadeff Studio. As always, a number of Cornish's theater faculty and alumni are involved in the festival...and Cornish has a tradition of supplying interns to the festival as well.


Cornish’s Biggest Student Exhibition Opens May 8

Gallery installation in the days leading up to EXPO 15.. Photo: Winnie Westergard.

Cornish’s Biggest Student Exhibition Opens May 8

​The weather prediction is for unseasonably warm temperatures and sunny skies, so the opening of EXPO15 should become a block party event as the crowds go between multiple buildings on the South Lake Union campus. This expansive exhibition featuring the 98 graduating seniors in the Art, Design,Film+Media department is the result of months of individual work. The students involved also said the show reflects a senior class that is both provocative and supportive–as befitting the Centennial graduating class of Cornish College of the Arts.

One of the emerging artists in this show is Annieo Klaas, who grew up in Dakar, Senegal, and came to Seattle to study at Cornish. Her artwork has been displayed at shows in such Seattle neighborhoods as Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Georgetown, Fremont, and, this August, Pioneer Square. For EXPO15, she created an ethereal installation of hanging paper and embroidered collages. Klaas uses obtrusive processes such as sewing through thin paper with wet thread, piercing or ripping her materials with sharp objects, and staining them with saffron dyes, charcoal powder, or washes of oil paint to explore the relationship between the artist and the artwork.

But the show is not just about fine art. A design senior Rose Burt created a computer game titled The Pear  and the Cinnamon Roll: a Digestive Platformer that will be on display. Rose Burt explained that her game places the player in the “role of a ‘digestive spirit,’ collecting the food’s essence for the body’s use. It explores an appreciation of the beauty of food, the contrast between whole and processed foods, and the unquantifiable nature of nutrition.” The game was inspired by Burt’s conviction that it is necessary to overcome the “disconnect” between production of food and consumption in an industrial society, both for the health of the individual and for the health of the planet. Burt also created a process blog about her “foodventure” to share with fellow designers how she built her game.

Senior Lauren MacDonald created an entire room in an installation that uses both Japanese and Western woodblock techniques. “I have started to combine these with the common materials I often use in my sculpture work to create installations,” explained MacDonald. “My current work is expanding my print series, The Manor, into an installation piece examining the idea of a secret passageway. I have been building miniature rooms, to be placed within the walls of a life-sized room and visible only through peepholes.  It is playful and nostalgic with darker undertones, such as the loss of innocence or the duality of a place.” Originally from Portland, Oregon, MacDonald’s work recently was seen at Interventions (2014) at Clark Lake Park in Kent, Washington.

Pieces by Klaas, MacDonald, and the other art seniors can be seen in Cornish’s Centennial Lab, 2000 Terry Avenue. Burt's game and other design student work, which includes visual communications, interior architecture, and motion design, will be displayed in the Beebe Building, 2014 9th Avenue. Participating students’ work also can be seen online at www.cornish.edu/expo

The opening night reception for EXPO15 begins at 5 pm on May 8 at Centennial Lab and Beebe Building.


Neddy Artist Award Adds To SAM’s Collection

Detail from "Two Sides of Self" (1971) by Ann Leda Shapiro. Photo: Elizabeth Mann, courtesy of Seattle Art Museum.

Neddy Artist Award Adds To SAM’s Collection

Matthew Offenbacher decided to take his 2013 Neddy Artist Award of $25,000 and turn it into a gift to the Seattle Art Museum. Working with Jennifer Nemhauser and SAM’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Catharina Manchanda, Offenbacher assembled seven exceptional works by artists living in the greater Seattle area in to a performative artwork entitled Deed of Gift. Besides adding the local artists to SAM's permanent collection, the piece was meant to jumpstart conversations about the lack of representation of these artists in museums.

As a painter, Offenbacher takes constructive, positive positions at often difficult intersections of individuals, communities and institutions. Nemhauser is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Washington. Although partnered for 25 years, Deed of Gift is their first formal collaboration.

The works collected reflected Offenbacher’s interest in the role of shame and pride in art production. Last year, Offenbacher and Nemhauser lived and worked for several months in an artists’ cooperative in Rotterdam. Offenbacher commented: “One thing we noticed was that the European artists we met seemed less anxious about justifying their contribution to society. Like good bike paths, art was presumed to be part of daily life, useful and of interest to everyone. This is something we dearly wish for artists in Seattle.”

In a recent article by Jen Graves in The Stranger, both Offenbacher and Nemhauser characterized Deed of Gift as a way to start the conversation about why the region's leading art museum didn't have more feminist and queer art in its collection...and produce greater awareness of these local artists nationally. 

The works selected for Deed of Gift are by Daft Kuntz (Dawn Cerny and Victoria Haven), Anne Focke, Klara Glosova, Wynne Greenwood, Ann Leda Shapiro and Joey Veltkamp. “We believe that a healthy arts ecosystem is an essential part of our city,” said Nemhauser. “This project transferred resources directly to artists, while supporting the symbiotic relationship of SAM with the larger Northwest visual arts community.”

Robin Held, the new director of Neddy Artist Awards, noted:"The Neddy Artist Awards always  have been unrestricted and meant to be spent in ways most meaningful to the Awardees. Deed  of Gift is both a performative artwork and a significant gift to our city’s largest museum, where it will have lasting value into the future. It is a gesture very much in keeping with the spirit of the 'Neddies' and of legacy of artist Ned Behnke, as well as the mission of Cornish College of the Arts."

Applications for the 2015 Neddy Artist Awards recently closed. The next recipients will be announced later this summer.


The Clown Show: Who’s Laughing Now?

What are the most amazing things that Jinkx Monsoon and Lady Rizo have in common? OK, 1) they’re two of the biggest, most gorgeous divas in New York and, increasingly, on the world stage; 2) they seem to have an endless supply of jaw-dropping gowns, hairstyles and eyelashes; 3) they are both explosive performers with outstanding pipes; and 4), better than all that, they’re both alumni of Cornish College of the Arts. But there’s one more thing: both Jerick Hoffer ’10 (Jinkx) and Amelia Zirin-Brown ’99 (Rizo) point to David Taft’s clown class as instrumental in their development as performers. On April 23-24, audiences can connect the dots between this training and their remarkable careers at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center with The Clown Show.

​On stage (and all around the stage!) at the Cornish Playhouse Studio, third-year students in the Theater Department’s Original Works program show off the work they’ve been doing for the year in clown. The Clown Show is part of O! Fest (the original works festival), which is in turn part of a rich suite of performances—free to the public—put on by the department. This weekend, audiences can see The Clown Show, The Ten-Minute Play Festival, and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the studio. Next week and also for free is the 4th Annual Neo-Burlesque Showcase at the 9th Avenue Studios. Tickets can be purchased for this weekend’s performances of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock and a student-generated work, Shadows of Doubt at Raisbeck Performance Hall.

​The Clown Show is "curated" by David Taft. It's a telling choice of words. During the year, the juniors in his clown class developed their own characters and scenarios; he was there to guide, not direct. A viewing of the end-of-year show is sufficient to understand what the acting students get from the class. The best acting requires dedication to character, the courage to project, the ability to improvise, and a deep feel for the theatrical "moment." There is no hiding in clown, the performance is flat-out, pedal-to-the-metal from start to finish. Failure is always a moment away and can be staved off only with iron-clad conviction to character. Spend some time watching masters like Rizo and Monsoon, and you'll see what it's like for a performer to be totally relaxed in constant danger, each knowing how to control the moment with improvisation.

Clown, new burlesque, cabaret: all are tools of a great program to train fearless, adept actors. These innovative courses exist alongside more traditional acting classes and period style classes. Take the time to go to Seattle Center and see the next Jinkx Monsoon and Lady Rizo. Those who've seen The Clown Show in the past agree that it's not only interesting, it's hysterically funny. 

Did we mention the show is hysterically funny?


What’s Your Game?

Educators know what every kitten and puppy knows: play teaches. Consider a kitten batting a ball around your kitchen floor. It is play, but it’s more than that. What you’re seeing is a growing cat learning and honing hunting skills. Likewise, go to the fifth floor studios at Cornish where you’ll find a room full of students playing prototype board games and you’ll be seeing serious inquiry into the nature of structures, signs, and usability. 

The games are a product of a class in visual communication, Systems Communication, taught by design faculty members Sonja Durr and Megan Quinn. Examining, deconstructing, and restructuring games is the final project of a term devoted to learning to think about systems and how they function socially. As the syllabus notes, the class “focuses on semiotic relationships and the exploration of the visual language of mapping. Students will examine the visual vocabulary defining our culture and experiment with communicating challenging conceptual ideas.” Semiotics and developing a visual vocabulary could sound harrowing, but what better way to come to an understanding of these concepts than by studying simple games?

“The games are all board, card, or tabletop games,” says Durr. “The project is really about understanding, re-envisioning, and effectively translating a complex system.”

The students undertook to work out how familiar, commercial games function and how they appeal to their players. Some of the games studied were board games like “Clue” and “The Game of Life,” or card games like cribbage and “Splendor.” Once they had finished their research and understood the inner workings of the games, they reworked them with new—and often very fun or very timely—themes.

Rethinking these games was a complex assignment, but it was a challenge Megan Quinn knows her class was up to. “These students have a broad skill base—multidimensional and behavioral design,” she says, “and we wanted to put as much of this to work as we could with these projects.”

Quinn and Durr go on to point out that the class is about more than building skills, as important as those are; it is ultimately about thinking through and solving problems within complex systems. The two broke up the term into a series of “Challenges” to their students, taking on such problems as information graphics within sociopolitical systems.

The week of April 20, the class will be presenting the finished games for their fellow students to try out at two three-hour “Game Days.”


Anne Bogart Selected As Commencement Speaker

Many Cornish theater majors already know the work of award-winning stage/opera director and author Anne Bogart. Her methods and many books on finding the moment in acting are standard fare in that department. But her wider views on the importance of the creative in everyday life will ring true to the more than 200 graduates receiving diplomas this year.

Bogart is one of the Artistic Directors of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki. Her three books of essays on theater-making: A Director PreparesWhat's the Story; and And Then, You Act are standard reading for theater professionals. She has taught numerous workshops and seminars as well as written on both the Suzuki method and Viewpoints, training methods used throughout contemporary theater.  Conversations with Anne, a collection of interviews she has conducted with various notable artists, was published in 2012.

As part of the May 9 ceremonies at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, President Nancy J. Uscher will award honorary degrees to Bogart and to choreographer and McArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Liz Lerman. In addition, this year’s Distinguished Recent Alumni Awards will go to Jerick Hoffer '10 and Richard Andriessen '10 and the Distinguished Alumni Award will go to Kent Devereaux '82.

“As part of our ongoing Centennial celebrations, we’re honored to have these notable artists and alumni join us for this joyous  event,” said President Uscher.

Lerman, an American choreographer and founder of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, has visited Cornish in the past. Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, her collection of essays published in 2011 by Wesleyan University Press, was released in paperback in 2014. She has specialized in collaborative and genre-twisting work with dancers. In the course of her projects, she has included everyone from shipbuilders to physicists in her process of creation.

“Throughout its history, Cornish has opened its doors to artists with bold dreams and embraced those who wanted to make a difference in the world,” said President Uscher. “The artists we honor at Commencement, and the graduates who leave here to become the next generation of distinguished alumni, uphold that tradition. We are very excited to see what they will accomplish next as artists, citizens, and innovators.”

The Cornish Centennial Commencement will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. Cornish College of the Arts awards Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in art, dance, design, performance production, and theater, as well as a post-graduate Artist Diploma in Early Music.


Reflections on the BFA Dance  Concerts

Cornish dance seniors. Photo: Winnie Westergard.

Reflections on the BFA Dance Concerts

Mid February each year, seniors in the Cornish dance department gather in an adrenaline-induced frenzy at Broadway Performance Hall to present the physical manifestation of their college experience: two full-length programs of senior performances and choreography. In addition to performing solos composed by some of the nation’s foremost dance artists, the seniors also set their own choreography on their peers. The graduating students have the unique opportunity to demonstrate both their technical prowess and their compositional ability in the BFA Dance Concert Series.

Shortly after the show closed, when the residual exhilaration was still in the air, Miranda Chantelois '17 sat down with current senior Julia Sloane to discuss her experience. As a performer/choreographer in this year’s showcase, Sloane talked about the importance, scope, and relevance of this event both for the Cornish dance department and for the greater Seattle community.

Chantelois: So tell me, what is unique about  the BFA concerts in relation to other annual performances hosted by the Cornish dance department?

Sloane: The BFA concerts obviously  feature the seniors, typically showcasing a solo and their own choreography. This is the only show that has both student choreography and professional choreography side by side. It usually also includes a lot of underclassmen in the department because the seniors hold auditions at the beginning of the year. It's a really great combination of older and younger dancers, and highlights the trajectory/evolution of the dance students. 

Chantelois: Where did you begin for the choreographic portion of your project?

Sloane: I am very interested in  improvisation, and this was the basis for my capstone project­– both in my choreography and solo performance. I was particularly interested in exploring the experience and sensation of movement, and the unique way movement manifests on individual bodies. I began my choreography process with those ideas in mind, as well as my own personal questions on sexuality, sensuality, sexual identity, authenticity, and the passage of time.

Chantelois: You also had a solo in the show. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience working with a professional choreographer? 

Sloane: For my solo, I worked with Alia Swersky, who crafted a work inspired by my own personal, authentic movement patterns. I took a different route than a lot of seniors do by choosing to work with a local artist, intimately, over a long period of time. A lot of seniors choose a big name, learn a solo in a week, and that's it. It’s super valuable, but not what I wanted for my experience.

Chantelois: I imagine that you learned a lot–both  from Alia and from your own choreographic choices. How did the experience of your BFA capstone serve your artistic education? 

Sloane: It was fantastic to have to do  all of the things I thought I wouldn't like or be good at. I learned a lot about myself and my process, and I also gained a new respect for choreographers. I definitely want to be a performer, but it is incredibly important to experience being on the other side of the process–I am definitely holding myself to a higher standard in the way I approach other artists’ rehearsal processes.  

Chantelois: What is the attraction of the BFA Dance Concert Series for future audiences?

Sloane: The BFA show presents artists  that are just beginning to come into their own. The concert is a wonderful experience to witness that process and see all the directions we (the students) go in. It is our first debut, and while our work will get exponentially better (I hope for myself at least!) it is really special to share our first seeds of creation with our community at Cornish/Seattle.

--

Next up in the Broadway Performance Hall is the Cornish Dance Theater Spring 2015 Concert, April 17 and 18. Featuring the choreography of Donald Byrd, Pat Hon, Wade Madsen, Crystal Pite, and Deborah Wolf, this event is the final dance concert of the year. The Saturday, April 18, matinee performance will be followed by an informal question-and-answer period.

The Pite Restaging Residency at Cornish and the staging of Dark Matters on Cornish Dance Theater were made possible by funding from the Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation.

Cornish News thanks Miranda Chantelois for this article and her article on Terpsichore's Landing earlier this month.


New Chair of Dance Announced

Dr. Victoria Watts. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Victoria Watts.

New Chair of Dance Announced

Dr.Victoria Watts has been selected as chair of the Dance Department. She will replace Chair of Dance Kathryn “Kitty” Daniels, who is retiring in May after 29 years at Cornish.

“We’re all sad to see Kitty leave,” said Moira Scott Payne, Cornish's Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs. “Her impact on the Dance Department, and on so many professional dancers working in Seattle and around the world, is immeasurable. It took an international search to find an appropriate replacement. During her visit to Cornish earlier this spring, everyone was excited to hear about Vicki’s many research projects and her ideas for building on Cornish’s rich tradition of dance education in the 21st century.”

Currently lecturing at University of South Australia, Watts holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from George Mason University, an MFA in Dance (with a concentration in multimedia technology) from The Ohio State University, and a BA (Hons) Dance in Society from the University of Surrey. Her current research includes collaborative work with roboticists at Technologische Universiteit Delft exploring non-verbal communication between humans and machines; an enquiry into the effect of body-based methods and practices of teaching on students’ dispositions towards math; and ongoing exploration of professional learning models for teachers in relation to dance practice with older adults.

“This will be an amazing opportunity to work with a highly talented team of faculty,” said Watts.  “I hope to maintain and strengthen the spirit of artistic collaboration, innovation, and interdisciplinary practice that were the hallmarks of Nellie Cornish’s founding vision for the school.”

Dance, for both college (BFA in Dance) and under-18 students (Cornish Preparatory Dance Program), has been taught at Cornish almost from the very beginning. The school has a rich tradition of producing collaborative artists in the field. Early graduates include Louise Soelberg, who worked with Rudolf Laban to develop his notation system of movement as well as serving as a model for painter Mark Tobey; African-American Syvilla Fort, who performed at Cornish with Merce Cunningham and went on to teach Alvin Ailey; Merce Cunningham, who began his partnership with John Cage while at Cornish; and many more. Today, Cornish dance graduates routinely appear in “25 To Watch” lists and are featured in dance publications around the world. Recent performances locally by alumni include Kate Wallich at On the Boards this month, Amy O’Neal at the Bellevue Arts Museum in March, and Corrie Befort with Salt Horse at Henry Art Gallery in March, among others.

Watts' previous professional engagements have spanned Europe, North America, and Australia. Along with her degrees, she also is certified to Advanced level in Labanotation and Benesh Movement Notation. Her doctoral thesis combined her interests in visual culture and theories of embodiment with a comparative analysis of four scores of Balanchine’s Serenade in an investigation of the ways movement notation systems encode changes in embodied subjectivity. She has held teaching appointments at George Mason University, The Ohio State University, Roehampton University, and the University of South Australia. As part of the Faculty of Education senior management team at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, she served as program leader for the Master of Teaching (Dance), a distance-learning program with an emphasis on practice-based research. After receiving funding from the US-UK Fulbright Commission to support her graduate studies, Watts remained an active advocate for Fulbright serving as chair of the alumni association in the UK between 2011 and 2013 and as secretary for the South Australian chapter of the alumni association in Australia from 2014 to the present day.


Scholastic Writing Award Winners Featured at Cornish Event

​Hear winning entries from the Scholastic Writing Awards 2015. This event is sponsored by the Cornish College of the Arts Admission Department. . Photo: courtesy Seattle Public Library.

Scholastic Writing Award Winners Featured at Cornish Event

“Rejection letters smell like rusty nails and gas station bathrooms. They taste like stale saliva that you choke on when you wake up at four thirty in the morning for tennis team,” writes Scholastic Writing Awards 2015 silver medalist Adesuwa Agbonile. For Adesuwa and the other winners from Washington State at the national level, rejection is a sensation they won’t need to indulge. Lovers of good writing can share in the excitement of these young writers and hear the winning entries from the Puget Sound region this Sunday, April 12, at 3:00 p.m. at the Seattle Public Library. The event is sponsored by the Cornish College of the Arts Admission Department. ​

Cornish organized the Puget Sounds region of Washington State for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, providing exhibition space for the visual arts and readers for the writing portion. The art awards took place earlier this year. ​The College has arranged for the works to be read by actors in the Theater Department.

Young Washington writers in Cornish’s region include gold-medal winners Walker Caplan, Allison Hoff, Sophia Pekkanen, Esther Reichek, Pavi Chance, and Avery Savin. ​

Pavi Chance (grade 11) was a double winner in “Science Fiction/Fantasy” with a gold medal and an American Voices Medal for Room for the End of the World and a gold medal for The Weatherman. In “Flash Fiction,” Walker Caplan (grade 11) won his medal for Harold's Dad is a Cool Dad. Allison Hoff’s (grade 7) article When Teens are Facing Challenges, "A Stitch in Time Saves Nine" took a gold medal in “Journalism.” Sophia Pekkanen (8) won for The Story is About her Shoes in “Short Story.” In “Personal Essay/Memoir,” Esther Reichek (8) won for No Dumping. Avery Savin (8) took a gold medal in “Short Story” for her work Field Mouse. ​

Avery Savin was happily ambushed at her school with the news of her win. “I found out that I had won the award during the daily announcements at my school,” she writes. “There were a few average, expected things like: soccer practice starts on Wednesday, check the lost-and-found for your lost items, etc. Then out of nowhere, my science teacher says ‘And congratulations to Avery for winning a gold medal at the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards!’ I was so shocked, I couldn't move. All of my friends started screaming and jumping around and hugging me, and I was just so amazed that I couldn't get out of my seat. It was astounding to me that me, a small town girl from Olympia, Washington, could write something that impressed judges in a national competition!"

Walker Caplan writes that "it's validating to receive a Scholastic Award; it suggests that my work has resonated with others and I've created a human connection through my work. It's also humbling and inspiring to look at the work of my peers and find myself in such incredible company."

Esther Reichek writes, "I couldn't believe it when I logged into my Scholastic account on March 16.  I was in my Latin class at the time the Awards were announced (9:00 AM), and I asked my teacher permission to check.  I think I must have yelled, "I got a gold medal!" because I was so excited.  And then, a few minutes later, my friend Sophia, who's also in my Latin class, found out about her gold medal, and we started jumping up and down.  "

The writing awards are one half of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. According to representatives of the awards organization, around 255,000 original works were submitted this past year. “Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth, and provided opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated. Each year, increasing numbers of teens participate in the program, and become a part of our community–-young artists and writers, filmmakers and photographers, poets, and sculptors, along with countless educators who support and encourage the creative process.” ​


Grand Hotel Ready to Open at the Playhouse

The concentration is intense: there are mere hours left to get the production elements right and the actors' cues tight before Grand Hotel opens 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 8. It's a big show. The musical, with book by Luther Davis, music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest, and based on the novel by Vicki Baum, garnered 12 Tony Nominations at its 1989 opening and ran for an astounding 1,000 performances. Grand Hotel runs for this week only in the 450-seat auditorium of the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Tickets are available now.

It is 1928. The world is between wars, the stock market is booming, Berlin is a playground for the wealthy, and optimism rules the day. But darker shadows lurk in the corners. High society, financial ruin, love, and murder converge as people come and go through the lobby of the Grand Hotel created by the Performance Production and Theater departments. Grand Hotel is directed by Richard Gray with choreography by Dannul Dailey and music direction by D.J. Gommels. Grand Hotel is performed by an ensemble of Cornish juniors and seniors.

Grand Hotel is the latest project in a thriving program within the Theater Department. ​The dynamic and growing Musical Theater program is taught by working professional artists such as Timothy McCuen Piggee (Catch Me if You Can on Broadway, ACT Theatre/5th Avenue Theatre’s current production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris), Frances Leah King (the 5th Avenue’s recent production of Carousel), Tinka Dailey (many productions at the 5th Avenue as performer and dance teacher), Hugh Hastings (Village Theatre’s recent production of Mary Poppins) and others.

​After extensive singing, dance and performance skills studies, graduates have gone on to work at local and regional theaters, as well as on Broadway (Don Darryl Rivera in Disney’s Aladdin) and touring internationally (Jerick Hoffer/Jinkx Monsoon and Richard Andriessen/Major Scales in The Vaudevillians).

​Each year Cornish presents a number of musical productions to enable the students to synthesize their acting, singing, and dance skills through performance. The annual Spring Musical at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center also allows Cornish’s Performance Production students to display their skills in theater design and technology.

Grand Hotel, Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center; April 8 through April 10, 8:00 p.m.; April 11, two performances, 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Tickets: $5 to $17. ​


Terpsichore’s  Landing, Poised to Make Its Mark

Terpsichore's Landing. Photo: courtesy of Cornish Dance department.

Terpsichore’s Landing, Poised to Make Its Mark

When Rebecca Smedley first started Terpsichore’s Landing (a.k.a. Terps) in 1998, she was a sophomore dance student with a determinable spark, intent on presenting her own choreographic work before the year’s end. Although the Cornish dance department already had an annual student choreography showcase called New Moves, it was limited by audition, providing only 10 to 15 selected students the opportunity to exhibit their choreography annually. Not having been selected for New Moves that year, Smedley and three other sophomores (including alumna and current adjunct faculty member, Corrie Befort) decided to take matters into their own hands. The dancers talked to Dance Chair Kitty Daniels, who agreed to mentor the students in producing their own concert. The sophomores created the whole show, from auditioning pieces to organizing posters, publicity, and programs. Though they performed in the cramped studios of Kerry Hall, the show was a smashing success. Smedley and her peers were invigorated by the challenge of producing their own concert and grateful for the opportunity to present their choreography to the public.

Seventeen years later, Terpsichore’s Landing remains a standing tradition. Once a concert for those not cast in New Moves, the show has become a choreographic endeavor in and of itself; many students now choreograph specifically for Terps each spring regardless of their participation in the fall New Moves production. Each year, a fresh board of student producers continues to work under a faculty advisor to organize the concert, making Terps a unique opportunity for performance as well as for professional practice, allowing students to prepare for the high demands of choreography, collaboration, risk, and self-promotion in the greater dance community. “Terpsichore’s Landing is a foreshadowing of the future,” writes one of this year’s producers, Abby Zimmerman, “a raw, surprising, first glimpse at choreographers and dancers we haven’t really seen yet.”

This year’s show is expected to be just that: a gratifying array of aesthetic choices composed by an experientially diverse group of choreographers. From sophomores like Hannah McClean (for whom this year’s Terps will be her second ever choreographic endeavor) to Laura Rodriguez (a returning student with 12 years of professional experience in choreography), the students selected for this year’s production are poised to present their latest creations on April 5.

Although this particular show boasts a generally young selection of choreographers, there will be nothing juvenile about the range of topics presented. In fact, it may be an atmospheric roller coaster for audiences and dancers alike. With works inspired by text, social dance, depression, comedic relief, paintings, anxiety, and more, the 2015 Terpsichore’s Landing should prove to be an exciting showcase of ideas, concepts, and explorations expressed through movement in a myriad of ways.

Levi Ryan for example, will be presenting Want, a dark meditation on desire, change, and condition set to the ominous soundscape of Olafur Arnalds’ Endalaus II. Although Ryan encourages audience members to interpret the work for themselves, he has described this piece as an image of struggle, particularly at the circumstances in life that necessitate serious adjustment: “I am attempting to touch on the want that we all have at times to leave something behind us,” he writes. “Whether that is an addiction, a bad job, a dysfunctional relationship, or whatever, it can be difficult and frustrating to find the strength to set out in a new direction completely on our own.”

Want will serve as an interesting contrast to the more buoyant  works that will appear onstage this year including the girls-gone-wild ferocity of Hannah McClean’s quartet and the playful character study choreographed by three of this year’s sophomores. 

An eclectic show to say the least, Terpsichore’s Landing is sure to have something for just about everyone and will serve–as it has since the beginning–to demonstrate the agency of Cornish dance students and their capacity to create, collaborate, and produce with the help of a skilled faculty. Free and open to the public, Terpsichore’s  Landing will take place on Sunday, April 5, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at PONCHO in Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St., and should prove to be a rousing display of talent among some of Cornish’s most talented budding choreographers.

Article by Cornish dance student Miranda Chantelois '17. Chantelois will perform in the 2015 Terpsichore’s Landing concert in the works of Allison Burke, Julia Kusanagi­, and Laura  Rodriguez.


Denise Martel Named Chair of Performance Production

Cornish's new Performance Production Chair was announced in March.. Photo: courtesy of Denise Martel.

Denise Martel Named Chair of Performance Production

After a rigorous national search that began in 2014, Denise Martel was named Chair of Performance Production in March. Martel most recently worked as associate production manager of Seattle Children’s Theatre. She also was a festival producer and associate producer at Village Theatre in Issaquah, WA.

"I am delighted to have Denise take this position," said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Moira Scott Payne following the announcement.“She brings Cornish a wealth of real world and academic experience, something that has always been important to our Performance Production department.”

Martel holds an MFA in Theatre Technology from the University of Illinois and a BA in Fine Arts/Drama from St Michael’s College, Colchester, VT. She was a senior lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin, a faculty technical director at Stanford University, and a faculty technical director at San Francisco State University.  While in Austin, she served as the resident stage manager for the American Repertory Ensemble, a contemporary ballet company.

Professors Ron Erickson and Greg Carter have served as interim co-chairs of the Performance Production Department since January. Former Chair of Performance Production Dave Tosti-Lane retired in December 2014.

"Greg and Ron made this a seamless transition," said Scott Payne, “and all the Performance Production faculty, staff, and students gave us great feedback during the search about how they wanted to see this department develop under Denise’s leadership in the coming years.”

Performance Production will be welcoming their new Chair as well as toasting graduating seniors and retiring members of the department during their senior portfolio review and traditional “Mothers’ Tea” on April 29 at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. 


Women in Design & Metal Speak at Cornish

Forging in Pratt's metal shop. Photo: courtesy Pratt Fine Art Center.

Women in Design & Metal Speak at Cornish

​Sometimes the stars just align. Tuesday and Wednesday March 25 and 26, Cornish will play host to two arts organizations featuring panels of women—and all during Women’s History Month. The Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Seattle Chapter leads off with Women in Design: Leadership and Community on Tuesday, featuring a panel of four distinguished designers. The next day, the Pratt Fine Arts Center brings four metal artists to Cornish with Women in Metal: A Conversation.

Both events are at the Main Campus Center, 7th Floor.

SEGD’s Women in Design: Leadership and Community is part of its XPAND Speaker Series, which intends to “provide our design community with an educational and informative platform to share and connect on relevant topics throughout the year.” The one-hour moderated panel discussion brings together four women from diverse backgrounds and disciplines who are shaping design, the community, and the future. The four will share their values, challenges, and what drives them to make a difference through their craft and practice. March 25, 5-7:00 PM.

Tickets for Women in Design are available through Eventbrite; SEGD members $8, non-members $16, SEGD student members get in for free, and non-member students $4.

The panelists for Women in Design are Faith Berry, Senior Designer at Studio SC; Julie Myers, President, JMD Consultants, Inc., and Associate Professor in the Design Department at Cornish; Paula Rees, Principal of ForeSeer; and Andrea Weatherhead, Principal, Weatherhead Experience Design, Inc.


Pratt recognizes Women’s History Month with Women in Metal: A Conversation. The event is in celebration of local female artists who are successfully navigating a traditionally male-dominated artistic discipline. The intention is to not only celebrate artists currently working professionally in metal, but to also create exciting and inviting opportunities for women to experience working in metal for the first time, or to deepen their ongoing artistic practice. Audience members will have the opportunity to listen and ask questions about their artistic journey and how they are paving the way for the next generation of female metal artists. The panelists include artists creating large-scale public and private commissions, unique gallery work, and decorative metalwork. March 26, 6:30-8:00 PM. 

Women in Metal: A Conversation is free of charge and open to the public.

Moderated by Bellevue Art Museum’s Curator of Craft, Jennifer Navva Milliken, the conversation will include Judith Caldwell, Hazel Margaretes, Chelsea Gaddy, Amie McNeel, Lauren Osmolski, and Julie Speidel.

In addition to Women in Metal: A Conversation, Pratt is offering twelve metals classes this March through May, taught exclusively by female instructors including two “Ladies Forging & Welding Nights.” By offering classes taught by professional female instructors, Pratt aims to create an environment where women feel free to create and explore in the realms of the foundry work, forging and metal fabrication. Women in Metal Classes
Bach to the Future: Cornish Celebrates the Composer’s 330th Birthday

Montage, Bach and "Westlake Station DSST Portal"; both images are Wikimedia Commons license. Photo: Oran Viriyincy, Westlake Station image.

Bach to the Future: Cornish Celebrates the Composer’s 330th Birthday

Birthday gifts: what do you give to the guy who has everything? In the case of birthday boy Johann Sebastian Bach, you and thousands of your friends play his music all over the world. The great composer turns 330 on Saturday, March 21; organized worldwide as “Bach in the Subways,” musicians express their love of his music and work to widen his audience by playing Bach in public places. In Seattle, Bach will be happening all over the place on Saturday by many musicians, including ensembles and musicians from Cornish.

Bach in the Subways started with a cellist in New York, as the organization’s site explains. “The power & beauty of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music consistently transcend social & musical boundaries and inspire deep appreciation and strong emotion. Sadly, in many countries classical music audiences continue to shrink. In 2010, convinced this trend was largely because many people never have the chance to experience classical live and up close, and believing Bach to be the perfect ambassador for his art form, Dale Henderson began frequent performances of the Bach Cello Suites in the subways of New York City.”

There’s no requirement that the various ensembles gathered for Bach in the Subways actually play in a rail station. However, for those Cornish musicians taking part in this year’s festivities, that’s just what they’ll do. From 9:45 to 11:00 a.m. in the SeaTac/Airport light rail station, various ensembles from the College will entertain people coming and going from their flights at Sound Transit's Central Link light rail. At 1:00-1:45 p.m., professor Jovino Santos Neto will play piano.

Professor Paul Taub is helping to organize Cornish's participation in the festive, international celebration. The Chamber Music class at Cornish will join the effort. There are at least seven distinct ensembles getting ready for the event, coached by Taub, Peter Mack, Roger Nelson, and Tom Varner.

For anyone who can’t make the airport performance, the ensembles will reprise their performances in a free concert on March 25, Mid-day Music: Bach the Cornish Way. The concert will be at PONCHO Concert Hall from 12:00-1:15 p.m.


Seattle Jazz Experience Fills Cornish Playhouse

Concerts at Cornish Playhouse bring together the best of local college and high school bands during March event. Photo: courtesy of Seattle Jazz Experience.

Seattle Jazz Experience Fills Cornish Playhouse

Started in 2014, the Seattle Jazz Experience gives college and high school bands a chance to experience the Northwest’s distinct brand of music. Since jazz has been taught for more than 50 years at Cornish College of the Arts, it made sense for the college to become an early sponsor of the event, said Tom Baker, interim chair of music at Cornish. His predecessor, Kent Deveraux, was a founding member of Seattle Jazz Experience and helped place the festival on the Cornish campus.

This year’s Seattle Jazz Experience takes place March 13 and 14 at the Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center. Bands from around the region will play during the day (the public can drop into these sessions for $5!) and special guests will perform full concerts in the evening.

Cornish Creative Ensemble and Cornish Ensemble 3 will be participating in the festival and can be heard during Friday sessions afternoon taking place between 2 pm and 4:30 pm.

A featured composer-in-residence, Canadian saxophonist and composer Christine Jensen, will provide compositions for the bands to work on, and work in clinics with selected ensembles.

Other guest artists in the workshops and concerts are the genre-defying group Kneebody, guitarist Julian Lage, trombonist Robin Eubanks, pianist Darrell Grant, drummer Eric Harland and bassist Scott Colley. Both the Julian Lage Trio and Kneebody will perform in the evening.

In a recent interview at KPLU, David Deacon-Joyner, another member of the Seattle Jazz Experience steering committee, expressed his hope that the festival could find more sponsors and become an annual event. As director of jazz studies at Pacific Lutheran University, he sees the festival both alerting the world to the quality of jazz in the Seattle area and giving student bands a great educational experience.

How To Enjoy Seattle  Jazz Experience March 13 and 14


A $45 two-day pass allows entrance into all day performances, clinics, and workshops as well as the evening performances of Julian Lage Trio on Friday and the Best of the Fest Bands with Kneebody on Saturday. A $20 ($15 seniors and $10 students) evening only ticket is available for either Friday or Saturday night. The two-day pass or the evening only tickets are available ahead of time at Brown Paper Tickets or by calling 1-800-838-3006, ext. 1.

During the day, a $5 ticket is sold at the door (not available on BPT) which allows entry to the college or high school bands performances at the Cornish Playhouse, Cornish Playhouse Studio, or Vera Project at the Seattle Center. These peformances begin around 11 am and last until 6 pm. This ticket does not permit entry into any of the workshops or evening performances. See Seattle Jazz Experience for more information on the bands playing this year.

Cornish College of the Arts is a festival sponsor of Seattle Jazz Experience, along with Seattle JazzEd, Earshot Jazz, and Seattle Center. The other sponsors include Downbeat, KPLU, Starbucks, Kennelly Keys Music, Yamaha, and Classic Pianos of Bellevue. 


New exhibition of Cunningham photos shows unseen history of Cornish

The Cornish exhibition includes many photos, including this one, not seen for nearly 80 years. Photo: Imogen Cunningham, poster design by John Engerman.

New exhibition of Cunningham photos shows unseen history of Cornish

While preparing for Cornish College of the Arts’ centennial celebration last November, college officials reached out to Meg Partridge, granddaughter of famed Northwest photographer Imogen Cunningham, about using a Cunningham photo of Martha Graham, a frequent visitor to Cornish in its early years. During the discussion, Partridge revealed that the Imogen Cunningham Trust held numerous negatives of photos taken at the college that had not been seen in public for nearly 80 years.

“In 1935, The Cornish School (as it was called then) celebrated 21 years. Nellie Cornish, the school’s founder, asked Imogen to return to Seattle to photograph the college and the students,” said Bridget Nowlin, Cornish’s visual arts librarian. At Partridge’s invitation, Nowlin went through the Cunningham Trust’s negatives, discovering many photographs used for a 1935 Cornish catalog and then stored away. These photos form the basis of “A Stitch in Time: Imogen at Cornish,” a new exhibition of Cunningham’s work curated by Nowlin that opens March 18 in the President’s Gallery at Cornish College of the Arts, 1000 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA.

Cunningham’s photos of student life at the school, which even then combined the teaching of visual arts and performing arts, show a wide range of activities that would look familiar to Cornish students today. Dancers rehearse at the college’s Kerry Hall, stage technicians ready a set and prepare lighting cues for a theater show, artists sketch indoors and outdoors, and musicians practice on their instruments.

“While the photograph “Three Harps” is a familiar image, the remaining photographs are being displayed in an exhibition for the very first time,” said Nowlin. “There are many beautiful moments that Imogen
created of the Cornish School students as they worked and studied.”

There are 17 photos in the exhibition, including a portrait of college founder Nellie Cornish and photos of dancers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham (no relation) taken elsewhere by Cunningham. The former frequently visited Cornish while the latter was a student there in the 1930s.

A Stitch in Time: Imogen at Cornish
The Centennial Exhibition 
March 18 to June 30, 2015
President’s Gallery, Main Campus Center, 7th Floor
Cornish College of the Arts, 1000 Lenora St, Seattle, WA

Exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

Centennial Celebration Year Partners

Bernstein Global Wealth Management
City Arts
Hermanson Company LLP
Peterson Sullivan
Sellen
Vulcan, Inc.
Willis of Seattle


Cornish Commons Tops Off

The roof is done and interior work is not far behind on Cornish's newest building. Photo: Ankrom Moisan Architects, Inc.

Cornish Commons Tops Off

Cornish Commons, the new residence hall and academic building being developed for Cornish College of the Arts is on schedule and students will be able to move into their brand-new rooms starting in September. Construction on the 20-story building topped out with the pouring of the roof slab in January. The next milestone for the project will be completion of the building enclosure, which is scheduled to occur later this month.

Located on Cornish’s campus in downtown Seattle, the building will become the next Cornish Commons* in recognition of its upcoming use as Cornish’s “living room” as well as a residence hall, with studio spaces, a fireside lounge, and Student Life offices on the first two floors. The project is being developed by Capstone Development Partners (Capstone) with Ankrom Moisan Architects and Howard S Wright as design builder. In a deal that is very favorable to Cornish, Capstone arranged financing in a way that minimized the impact to the college's operating budget.

From the start, the team worked together to create a quality environment that fits Cornish’s requirements as a school of visual and performing arts.  During the initial design phases, they surveyed the Cornish population, sought input from all levels, and then considered and evaluated the needs of both students and faculty. This approach informed the overall design of the building and construction of spaces like the movement studios on the second floor. It also led to the addition of many small but telling details suited to Cornish’s artistic population, like walls that will allow for creative expression in the upper residence floors..

Capstone and Cornish broke ground on the project a year ago. Besides being a home to students who live on campus, the practice rooms, art studios, movement studio, and classroom space – as well as a 20th-floor garden, fitness room, and student lounge, among other amenities – make this addition to the South Lake Union neighborhood truly a place where people live, learn, work, and create.

More information will be released throughout the spring and summer with details regarding grand opening ceremony events.

Partners Make New Building Possible

Capstone  Development Partners, LLC is a Birmingham, Alabama based student-housing developer with more than 23 years of experience in higher education and student housing specializing in the finance, development and operations of urban, on-campus and campus-edge projects through Public Private Partnerships.  With their assistance, Cornish was able to create a viable solution to the rising cost of living off campus in Seattle as well as replace two aging residence halls. 

Because the new space initially will have more residence rooms than Cornish requires, nearby City University will use certain residence floors for their students, including many international students. Both schools look forward to interesting exchanges of ideas and developing friendships between their student bodies.

*The building currently called Cornish Commons and housing computer labs and studios on 9th and Virginia will be renamed in June 2015.

Cornish Residence Hall Partners

Ankrom Moisan
Capstone Development Partners, LLC
Cochran
Coughlin Porter Lundeen
Howard S. Wright
Holaday Parks, Inc.
Raymond-Northwest LLC


Alumni Centennial Bash a Huge Success

Maiah Manser and her band perform at the Alumni Centennial Bash. Photo: Winifred Westergard.

Alumni Centennial Bash a Huge Success

It was the largest Cornish alumni gathering ever, a testament to the new energy being put into reconnecting graduates with the College. On February 13, the stage of the College’s new premiere performance venue, the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, was thrown open to around 300 alumni and graduating seniors who were asked to "Party like it's 1914." Nearly everyone looked sharp in full period regalia from the 1910s to the 1920s. Of course: when the graduates and seniors of an arts college are challenged to dress up for an event, you can bet the results will be fantastic. Cornish seniors were invited: it’s viewed as the start of a new annual tradition, welcoming the next graduating class into the alumni family.

“Everyone had a fantastic time celebrating 100 years of Cornish and of our alumni making things awesome,” said Alumni Relations Manager Chris Sande, who organized the event. “The entertainment was absolutely fantastic, largely due to the incredible talent of the Cornish community - Opal Peachy, A Cedar Suede, Maiah Manser, and the many other alumni and student performers and artists were really what made the evening special.”

Opal Peachy ’04 acted as emcee for the event. A Cedar Suede includes Jamie Maschler '11 on accordion, Harold Belskus '12 on guitar, Tommy Whiteside '12 on percussion, Joe Eck '12 on drums, Martin Strand '11 on bass), and Amanda Fitch on violin. Alumna Maiah Manser appeared with her band, which included Jason Cairati '12, and James Squires.

​Seattle Met magazine was in attendance with their popular photo booth. Cornish grads outdid themselves in posing for their shots, available (including for purchase) on the Seattle Met site. The pictures are also on the Cornish Alumni Facebook page


Rizo Rocks Zinzanni

Lady Rizo makes a world for you at her performances, a place of danger but offering — paradoxically — the ultimate safety. She demands vulnerability of you, and offers it herself. Give in to her charms and you’ll arrive someplace safe, where anything, be it ever so outrageous, can be said out loud. She teases, she cajoles, she jokes, she seduces, she sings to you, and slowly, you give in to one of the best performers going. A friend of hers got to the heart of the Lady Rizo experience. “It’s dangerous. We really don’t know what you’re going to do, and that’s what makes you so intoxicating.” Intoxicating, amazing. Does she tire of hearing that she’s amazing? “I’m never tired of hearing that I’m amazing,” she quips. “People always love to say that to me: ‘You don’t need to hear this.’ And I’m like, ‘I do! I need to hear it!’ Every performer does, you’re just a crying little baby looking for approval.” She thinks for a moment and says, a little more seriously, “I need it less these days because I’m comfortable in what I have to give.”

Amelia Zirin-Brown ’99 — Lady Rizo offstage —couldn’t look more natural or at home lounging on a velvet couch, even with an impossibly exuberant spray of paper flowers behind her and a gilded side table beside her so florid it would make Louis XV blush. The setting must be over-the-top, of course, for she is in the lobby of Seattle’s own palais des rêves, Teatro Zinzanni. Lady Rizo is appearing in the latest Zinzanni explosive confection, The Hot Spot, through June. No spoiler alert here, let’s just say her entrance and exit at Zinzanni will be show-stoppers.

“I love being in a circus,” she says of working at Zinzanni, “These people have these … clowning skills and acrobatic skills, and they also are singing and dancing and acting.” Those familiar with Rizo’s act should prepare for some surprises over and above those she always offers her fans. “This is a different version of me for sure.”

Amelia was always a star, certainly at Cornish, where she was presented with a full scholarship, and before that, probably. But now she’s a seasoned performer at the top of her game and a star on the New York City diva circuit. She’s a staple at Joe’s Café, the cabaret space of The Public Theater. When the theater’s packed and the lights go down, she’s the master. “The doors are closed, and then I’m in charge,” she says. “I set that very clearly. Because I’m in charge there, we’re in an alternate reality. Like people use booze or drugs to create freedom, I do feel like the alter ego of Lady Rizo can be that portal, and that people feel that viscerally. … I’m in a space of taking any impulse and following it.”

Cornish provided an important step in Amelia’s success, especially in her work with cabaret and another class that might surprise many. “There were seeds that started in David Taft’s clown class,” she says. “My clown was this very sexual French clown — I would speak gibberish French." Taft’s annual clown class performance has been packing Raisbeck Hall to the rafters and been the hysterical scene of wholesale comic murder. The show has gotten so big that this April it’s been moved to the Studio of the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, doubling capacity. It's part of O! Fest: Original Works by Cornish Juniors, the first annual celebration of the creativity of the Theater Department's Original Works program. Look for it running in repertory with Twelfth Night.

The clown class and Cornish have become something of a “Diva U.” Jinkx Monsoon (Jerick Hoffer ’10), winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race and off-Broadway sensation with partner Major Scales (Richard Andriesson ’10) also honed his act in clown class. If you’re wondering, Jinkx and Rizo are indeed friends, and more. “What’s exciting is that this year we were up against each for a Helpmann Award,” she says, “which is the Tony of Australia, for best cabaret show. And we both lost.” Amelia says that Jerick has suggested they do a duet on his upcoming album; fans will be salivating for that, no doubt about it.

Amelia understands how Jerick found the clown class valuable in developing Jinkx Monsoon, and offers her own angle. “I mean, drag and clown, it’s about exaggerating life. I mean, I’m a bio-fem drag queen,” she says, astonishingly. “I’m the kind of woman that people base drag queens off of. … If I’m truly as successful as I want to be, in 10 years there will be drag queens of Lady Rizo.”

Big success of the household-name variety is somewhere down the pike, but for Amelia, the joy of being Lady Rizo is enough for now, that and the joy she brings to her fans. “I love the audience, and that’s genuine. I love people. I love what I do. And I love the moment that I’m creating. I love to sing. I serve the purpose of being a prism, reflecting the light that is coming at me, reflecting a celebration of the people in the room.

“It’s feeling like the people in the room are special,” Amelia continues. “Because this night is only going to happen tonight.” ​


Cornish Presents Continues with Pianist Dr. Peter Mack

Dr. Peter Mack. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Cornish Presents Continues with Pianist Dr. Peter Mack

Sometimes you look far and wide to bring in the best; sometimes they are to be found right next door. Dr. Peter Mack is in great demand as a performer, yet he is to be found on the campus of Cornish College of the Arts as professor of piano performance. A Steinway artist, Dr. Mack will perform a solo piano concert that features seldom-heard gems from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries at Cornish’s PONCHO Concert Hall in historic Kerry Hall on Sunday, February 22, at 7:00 p.m. Presented as part of the Cornish Presents series, the program will include works by Grieg, Medtner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Sorabji, and Julian Scriabin.

As the year 2015 is the 330th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach and the 100th anniversary of Alexander Scriabin’s death, the evening’s program will also explore works by these composers.

Tickets and information.

Mack’s talent has been recognized with a series of competition wins, including the New Orleans, Young Keyboard Artists, and Pacific International Piano competitions. He has performed all over the country and the world. "Mack is one of those lucky ones,” writes Albert Goldberg of the Los Angeles Times, “born with a completely balanced set of talents.  He has perfect piano hands, his technique is all but infallible, he has boundless temperament, style and taste, and above all, he communicates directly. …  In all capacities he is indefatigable."  

Dr. Peter Mack is in great demand as a clinician, convention artist, adjudicator, and teacher, as well as for his work as a performer. He is celebrated for his moving playing and his easy rapport with audiences and his extensive repertoire, having performed 26 concertos with orchestras.  A choral scholar at Trinity College Dublin and a fellow of Trinity College London, he holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Washington. Mack's 2014-2015 list of engagements includes performances in two of the most acoustically perfect performance spaces in Europe; the Salle Cortot of the École Normale in Paris, and the Haydnsaal of the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria.  

In the program:

J.S. Bach: Prelude in B minor, transcribed by Alexander Siloti

Edvard Grieg: 'Holberg' Suite, op.40

        i) Praeludium  
        ii) Sarabande
        iii) Gavotte
        iv) Air
        v) Rigaudon

Nikolai Medtner: Sonate-Elegie in D minor, op.11, No.2

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: A Song of India from the opera Sadko, transcribed by Alexander Siloti

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Pastiche on the Hindu Merchant's song from Sadko by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1922)

Alexander Scriabin
        Prelude for the Left Hand alone, op. 9, No.1
        Albumleaf, op. 45, No.1
        Prelude, op.51, No.2 (Lugubre)
        Prelude, op.74, No.2 (Très lent, contemplatif)

Julian Scriabin: Two Preludes, op.3

Alexander Scriabin: Etude in D sharp minor, op.8, No.12


Dance Seniors Show Off Their Style

2015 BFA Dance seniors.. Photo: Winnie Westergard.

Dance Seniors Show Off Their Style

An eclectic array of dance styles and viewpoints make up the 2015 BFA Dance Concerts this Saturday and next. The seniors will perform pieces ranging from modern dance to contemporary ballet, jazz and performance art, with some dances performed to live music. The concert series also includes performances of works commissioned from professional guest choreographers.

As part of their preparation last fall, the seniors also organized a photo shoot and the design of their marketing materials for the concert, including their elegant red-and-black poster. The BFA capstone project is intended to represent the graduating senior’s highest level of accomplishment and reflects a synthesis of the learning experience at Cornish College of the Arts, according Dance Chair Kitty Daniels. Senior Caitlyn Pumphrey created a work for five dancers called To You Baby, a process that she called "a fun journey" in her program notes. In addition, she will dance a solo work created by local choreographer and Cornish faculty member Wade Madsen, Corner of Fifth and Broadway. "I enjoyed working with [Madsen], hearing all of his feedback and learning from him," she said in the program for tomorrow's performances.

All BFA Dance Concert performances take place at the Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, in Seattle. The performances are open to the public and free but advance reservations for seats can be made through Brown Paper Tickets. 

February 14, 2 p.m and 8 p.m.
BFA Dance Concert - Program One
Featuring: Mariah Davis, Christine Dickson, Madison Haines, Mackenzie Kimbrel, Caitlyn Pumphrey, Kenysha Smith, and Phelicity Thompson.
Guest choreographers: Corrie Befort, Barbara Caioli,  Mike Esperanza, Jamie Karlovich, Wade Madsen, and Molly Sides.

February 21, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
BFA Dance Concert - Program Two    
Featuring: Jennifer Allie, Maya Horowitz, Yamari Maynard-Berley, Sage Miller, Elizabeth Monsoor, Sean Rosado, and Julia Sloane.
Guest choreographers: Sidra Bell, Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz of MADboots Dance Company,  Solomon Dumas, Terence Marling, Dennis Nahat, Alia Swersky, and Kate Wallich.


Nienkämper Brings Design Star Power to Cornish

You should have learned the name if you love design, but even if you haven’t, you know the work of Nienkämper. You've seen it everywhere. It is the name of a man and of the company he owns, a company that has set the standard for beautiful, functional, and rugged furniture for public spaces. It is furniture that has architectural integrity, which inhabits modern buildings with award-winning grace. In Seattle to visit Cornish on February 10, Klaus Nienkämper delighted and charmed the audience of design students, faculty, and staffers with collected photos of the work of the Nienkämper company and his personal stories of coming from postwar Germany to start his business.

Afterwards, Nienkämper toured the new combined offices of Art, Design, Film + Media and heard about the exciting changes in the Design Department’s Interior Architecture program. Interior Architecture students are now taking part in the foundation year with all the students of the combined art and design departments, which will bring new insights and inspiration. Like its counterpart tracks, Interior Architecture will be integrated and cohort-based, emphasizing collaboration.

Interior Architecture, under the guidance of Julie Myers, has amassed a fantastic success rate for its students. Design studios around Seattle and beyond come to Cornish every year to look for fresh talent. This year, as so many other years, the juniors and seniors in Interior Architecture captured top awards from the area’s professional organization.


Cornish Art Show Illuminates Changes in Curriculum

At a century-old beloved Seattle institution where Mark Tobey once taught painting, changing up the visuals arts curriculum caused such an uproar in the local arts community that Seattle Magazine selected Cornish College of the Arts’ Provost and Vice-President Moira Scott Payne as one of the 51 most influential people in the city last year.

Now the public can see some of the early results of those changes in the Northwest's grande dame of arts education. After a series of “studio walks” last Fall at the college’s South Lake Union campus, a selection of work by 33 current Cornish sophomores, juniors, and seniors has been hung in main gallery under the title “Changing Our Stripes: The New Art Program at Cornish.”

“We are in our 100th year at Cornish and the newly launched art program represents the future where integrated learning and cultivating communities of practice are at the heart of what we do,” said Art Department Chair Christy Johnson. “Students took this exciting and challenging opportunity to investigate the externals factors which shape and frame contemporary art today, and the broader world in which they live.”

Shared themes and topics addressed by the students include civil disobedience, consumer culture, systems and process art, postmodernism, and art history.

“The selection of work is also meant to represent the variety of mediums, approaches, and genres with which students are encouraged to experiment. Collectively these works get at the core mission of our new program: the idea that creating objects and images is also a form of critical thinking,” said Melissa Feldman, the critical and contextual studies faculty member who served as the guest curator for the show.  

Works on display range from flat to three-dimensional -- and some even light the space surrounding them.

During Wednesday's opening night reception, faculty, students, staff, and friends filled the gallery. The festive atmosphere included a myriad of discussions ranging from the art on display to the new energy sizzling through Cornish.  Everyone agreed it was a great start to the school's second century of teaching art.


Theater Winter New Works Festival Underway

​The 2015 Cornish Winter New Works Festival is in production and set to open February 6 at the Studio of the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. A series of readings of new plays by members of the senior class in the Theater Department's Original Works program, the writers are supported by professional directors and dramaturgs with casts made up of Cornish theater students. Each play goes through a three-week development process: a week of rehearsal, an interim week for the playwright to do rewrites as indicated, and then another week of rehearsal, capped by two public readings.​ All readings are from 8-10:00 p.m. and are free to the public.

​“We've got three ambitious plays by Cornish seniors — two Theater and one Performance Production Original Works — that are being directed by three top-flight directors,” writes department chair Richard E.T. White. The directors include Gregory-winner Kate Jaeger, Cornish’s own Kathleen Collins, and Intiman artistic director Andrew Russell. Dramaturgs for the projects include Stephanie Timm of New Century Theatre, Elizabeth Heffron, Cornish faculty and author of Bo-nita which premiered at Seattle Rep last year, and Christine Sumption of the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival.

Polyphony, by Kendra Lee
​Performance Production ​2015
Director: Kate Jaeger
Dramaturg: Christine Sumption
Original Music by Mitchell Gustin, Music ​2015
​A man with a great talent for piano is found, sopping wet and mute, walking along the side of the road. He is taken to the hospital where, despite his silence, he changes the lives of people he meets while coping with hauntings from his own past.
Public Readings Friday, February 6 and Saturday, February 7, 8:00 p.m.

Stranded! or Where There's a Will...  by Taylor Westerlund
​Theater ​2015
Director: Kathleen Collins
Dramaturg: Stephanie Timm
​In the midst of a crisis a young man named Will finds himself stranded on an island off the Northwest coast. His fears, desires and secrets seem to have followed him there and take shape before his eyes. As the island's populace grows, Will must face himself and the manifestations of his subconscious in order to find his way home.
Public Readings Friday, February 13 and Saturday, February 14, 8:00 p.m.

Definitely Native, by Kalea Salvador
​Theater ​2015
Director: Andrew Russell
Dramaturg: Elizabeth Heffron
Marie Sanchez lives with her family on the Acoma Reservation in New Mexico,​in a home whose door is a window that you climb through. On a night shot through with pain and love, Marie relives her complicated upbringing (which she believes to be completely average). Coping with her brother’s thieveries, her grandmother’s sharp tongue, her aunt’s control freak habits, and her uncle’s taste in cowboy attire, Marie must learn to balance her strict traditions with her family’s shortcomings and find a way to accept them for who they are.
Public Readings Friday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21, 8:00 p.m.


Cornish College of the Arts Joins Kronos’ Fifty For The Future

Kronos Quartet. Photo: Jay Blakesberg.

Cornish College of the Arts Joins Kronos’ Fifty For The Future

The Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association’s new program, Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, was unveiled on January 28. With a lead partner, Carnegie Hall, Fifty for the Future will provide musicians with the most recent approaches to string quartet, designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals.

Cornish College of the Arts will be one of the first institutions of higher education to take advantage of this exciting new initiative. “We are delighted and honored to be a partner in Kronos’ Fifty for the Future,” said Cornish President Nancy J. Uscher. “Creating new music and new ways of teaching music is very much a part of Cornish's pioneering spirit and legacy. Most importantly, this partnership with Kronos exemplifies the type of distinctive collaboration that Cornish will continue to develop in its second century.”

Cornish also will be working with Kronos’ Fifty for the Future commissioning partner Seattle Theatre Group for local presentations, added Uscher.

Beginning in the 2015/16 season, Kronos’ Fifty for the Future will commission a collection of 50 new works – ten per year for five years – devoted to the most recent approaches to the string quartet and suitable for training of students and emerging professionals. The works will be commissioned from an eclectic group of composers – 25 men and 25 women – and the collection will represent the truly globe-spanning state of the art of the string quartet in the 21st century. “I see a need for a thought-out and comprehensive primer, created by some of our very best collaborators. This primer is in part inspired by Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos, which he wrote for his son as an entry point to piano studies,” said David Harrington, the artistic director and founder of Kronos.

Harrington’s championship of new music began in 1973. Living in Seattle, the then 22-year-old Harrington commissioned his first composer, Ken Benshoof (also a Seattle resident), and paid him with a bag of doughnuts. Kronos’ very first performance included the resulting “Traveling Music” by Benshoof – along with Bartók’s Third Quartet, “Black Angels” by George Crumb, and Webern’s Six Bagatelles – all performed at North Seattle Community College before an audience of friends and family. According to Harrington, they also performed at Cornish College of the Arts during that first year. More recently, Kronos received honorary doctorates from Cornish in 2012 and headlined the 2013 Cornish gala.

For more than forty years, Kronos has premiered literally hundreds of new compositions. “Now Kronos has access to a worldwide community of exceptionally creative people capable of making a multi-faceted introduction for the youngest enthusiasts among us. We’re trying to use all of our experience to create a body of music for future generations,” said Harrington. “Our idea is that as we're touring and playing these 50 pieces, Kronos will be working with and mentoring younger quartets, and the music will begin to appear in concerts of other groups all over the place; being played in homes, in schools, art galleries, concert halls, wherever music is played and listened to.”

Through jointly designed master classes, workshops, and residencies, Kronos will work with Cornish and other Kronos’ Fifty for the Future partners to extend the reach of this educational program. “As Kronos/Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) enters its fifth decade, we are incredibly pleased to be launching the largest artistic and organizational undertaking in our history - Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire,” said Janet Cowperthwaite, managing director of the Kronos Performing Arts Association. “Building on Kronos’ more than 40-year success in working with both a wide range of immensely creative composers and a dedicated, adventurous group of presenters, funders and other partner organizations, this project exemplifies the curiosity, ingenuity, and diversity that has been the hallmark of Kronos’ vision and artistic output since day one.”

Kronos will premiere each work and create companion materials, including recordings, video, performance notes, and composer interviews. All of Kronos’ Fifty for the Future project materials – including scores and parts – will be distributed online and made available at no charge, in perpetuity. In the forward-looking spirit of Kronos’ decades-long history, Fifty for the Future will present string quartet music as a living art form, providing emerging musicians with both an indispensable library of learning, and a blueprint for their own future collaborations with composers.


"What truly excites me about this project is how it goes beyond our music department and will have the opportunity to involve students from all the disciplines at Cornish. The first piece, in 2016, will have elements of film and visual arts as a component," added Uscher.


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.

Next up will be Thumbscrew featuring the adventurous young guitarist Mary Halvorson along with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Their compositions are based on a co-operative spirit in the truest sense with  bass and drums solo fully part of the ensemble. As Thumbscrew explains on their website: "No one needs to be loudest. The blend is tight: one string (or metal) sound may bleed into another. It’s something to hear—something twisty and turny and always on the move."


Other Cornish Present jazz concerts include vocalist René  Marie and her tribute to the legendary Eartha Kitt, , the noted New York-based trombonist Ryan Keberle and his group Catharsis.

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

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: 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: 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.

--

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: 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: 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: 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: 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.