Paul D. Miller Premieres “Peace Symphony” at Cornish

Design by John Engerman. Photo: Lyle Owerko (of Paul D. Miller) .

Paul D. Miller Premieres “Peace Symphony” at Cornish

​by Tom Baker, Chair, Music Department

​Paul D. Miller has carved himself an important niche in popular music as DJ Spooky, a "turntablist" and experimental artist whose work has transcended hip-hop, admired as "trip-hop." But Miller's work transcends popular music as well, and beyond that, goes on to transcend music itself. He is a writer, an editor, a producer, an educator and a philosopher. On December 4, his new work, Peace Symphony: 8 Stories, will receive its world premiere at the Cornish Playhouse, for one performance only. Miller. Miller was inspired by the everyday stories of the last remaining survivors of the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and chose this year, the 70th anniversary of the destruction, to premiere the work.

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​I have been using the book Sound Unbound, of which Paul D. Miller is the editor, as an unofficial textbook in many of my classes here in the music department at Cornish College — classes in music theory, foundations of electronic music, live-electronics, and so forth. It is a fascinating and enlightening collection of essays and ideas. In his essay, "In through the Out Door," Paul has a great line: "There's always a rhythm to the space between things. Pause, hold the thought, check the moment. Repeat. Wait. There it goes again. Another thought, another pause in the stream of conscious in another abstraction - the reader, the listener. Speak these words out loud, and the same logic applies - there's always a rhythm to the space between things". I find this quote to have profound implications not only for the essay, but perhaps metaphorically for his work in general. It’s a great jumping off place for our interview.


Tom Baker: First of all, how in the world do you find the time for all that you do as a creative artist? And secondly, do you find the time to notice the rhythm of the space between things with what must be an incredibly busy life?

​Paul D. Miller: I would say everyone is feeling that they never have enough time in the 21st century. For me, music, art, and literature are all simply reflections of the same creative impulse. It's a core issue in the 21st Century. Capitalism forces our attention span to be framed by the huge array of commercial advertising that inundate us. I guess you could say that I use my art and compositions to create more time and space to think about all the issues facing us, and distill it all in one form. Music is the language we all speak.

​TB: This new piece, Peace Symphony, draws on a dramatic and profoundly disturbing time in world history. I know that you were artist-in-residence for Peace Boat (an international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment). Was that experience an inspiration for this piece?

​PDM: Japan and Germany took radically different routes after World War 2. Japan has an amazing group of peace activists and so does Germany, but Japan has a very different relationship to its collective memory of the war. I wanted to talk about memory with the survivors to see what could be done with their story. It's a story we Americans never get a chance to actually hear. That's what this project bears witness to: it has to be about purple to people shared experiences. Anything else is government propaganda. I try make this as much about humanity as possible.

​TB: Your work encompasses so many disparate pathways, thought there always seems to be singular vision at play, even in the midst of intertwined collaboration. How do you reconcile these diverse adventures and creative work into an aesthetic focus?

​PDM: Inter-disciplinary art is the legacy of some of my favorite composers - from John Cage on one hand and Nam June Paik on the other. Aesthetics in the 21st century is one of the most complex forces because it encompasses everything about what it means to be a creative person in this Era. DJ culture is a kind of template because it's always about searching for new ways to reconsider history. That's what a good mix does. It gives you a good idea of what is possible.

Desdemona Chiang Talks About Directing at Cornish

Poster for "Anon(ymous)". Photo: Alexandra Mojica.

Desdemona Chiang Talks About Directing at Cornish

Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department’s fall season has been focused on contemporary adaptations of classic tales as well as how characters have to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. In Naomi Iizuka’s play Anon(ymous) is one of the Junior shows this season, selected long before the headlines and debates began on the fate of refugees stranded in Europe, Anon must navigate through a chaotic, ever-changing landscape in this an adaptation of Homer's Odyssey that seems as timely as timeless.. Separated from his mother, a young refugee called Anon journeys through the United States, encountering a sinister one-eyed butcher, beguiling barflies, and more. Here the Cyclops, the sirens, and other classical dangers become the challenges faced by any stranger trying to reach home.

More Information on (Anon)ymous.

Interview by Leah Erickson Webster '16

I sat down with the director of Anon(ymous), Desdemona Chiang, today at the beautiful Cornish Commons. Chiang teaches directing at Cornish, and brings a lengthy and sparkling resume to the job, including work at theaters all over the country. Named for Shakespeare's heroine, this Asian-American director also is the co-founder of Azeotrope, a theater company dedicated to  creating a space where audiences confront the marginalized and obscured, bringing visibility to the invisible.

Chiang arrived smiling — relieved to be through the always busy "tech week" Cornish productions go through — when production elements like lights, costume, set, and sound are integrated into the performance. The show has just opened.

LEW: Where are you in the process now, as a director?

DC: I'm done! I think it's healthy for the director to walk away about now. At some point, it can't be about "fixing it" anymore. I don't think the director should be looking over the actors shoulder, at a moment…Sometime during tech- that's when I start stepping back. It changes from me giving major notes to just tweaking things. But a perfect tech will be one where I'm not talking much. I was talking for six weeks — now it's time for the stage manager to have authority, to have answers.

LEW: How has this process been different from other shows you directed in the past?

DC: It's my first time directing juniors- I've always directed the fall shows for seniors. It's important to remember where the students are in their education. The pedagogy for juniors at Cornish is more about the ensemble. In senior shows it's more about applying the skills you've learned, whereas we are working on creating something as a group. I feel an obligation with this particular group to show everyone that they are "important", for lack of a better word. Everyone should have a special moment.

LEW: What has it been like working with an assistant director? There have been several very successful matches this year.

DC: My assistant is Senior Original Works major Michael Zsala. The assistant/director relationship is always different. I think having Mike in my directing class benefitted him. You can't get to know someone as a director without spending substantial time with them. So much of directing is taught anecdotally or experientially. I had the same situation with Kalea Salvador last year when she assisted me on She Kills Monsters. Teaching directing doesn't happen in lecture form- it happens in rehearsal or at the bar chatting. I've definitely had that time with Michael.

LEW: There is a question dramaturges like to ask directors: Why this play now?

DC: This play was written in 2004, when there was a huge immigration crisis. I read it in 2006, I think, and it was still very topical. The questions of global displacement, war, home- they're not going away. It seems to me we've always been asking them. There will always be countries who want to wage war with each other. There are always people blowing each other up, destroying whole neighborhoods, homes. It's not "Why this play now?" it's "Why this play always?". Why do we keep asking the same questions, and getting the same answers?

LEW: And, why this play here?

DC: This is hard to do here, because we are so comfortable and privileged, for the most part. The material is so hard to understand for most of us on this project. Most of us grew up with a home, able to walk to that home safely. Most of us. So how do you get people to identify with the idea of being displaced, being homeless? There are homeless refugees in Seattle, but Cornish is so expensive. The bulk of the demographics I'm working with as a director won't truly understand the experience of their character.

LEW: I guess by nature of being at college, you're working with a lot of people who are far from home.

DC: But that's just it — they have a home. It's so difficult- a big question in this play is: Where do you go when your home is gone? When your home is reduced to ashes? How do you find a new home? That's something I struggle to understand emotionally, though of course intellectually I can understand it. This is always my artist's conundrum, maybe I'm taking too much responsibility as an artist here.

We can "play” with these terrible things in the theatre. We can talk about homelessness and refugees and murder and rape and horrible things. But at 10:30 every night, I get to go home. How do we make theatre and the arts more than just a privilege? How do I make it productive? I'm still asking these questions …

Leah Erickson Webster is a senior in Theater, studying dramaturgy in the department’s Original Works concentration.

Cornish’s Second Century Starts With Worldwide Classes

As Cornish began its second century this month, two of its global offerings let people around the world essentially step into a Cornish classroom and participate in a class for free.

As announced earlier, the Design Department launched its first MOOC (massive online open class) on this fall. Faculty member Junichi Tsuneoka leads students through his introduction to graphic illustration in five online sessions. Through a series of projects, students can explore the translation, production, and distribution of their visual ideas. At the same time, Tsuneoka discusses new opportunities for illustrators to work in a variety of industries. The class made a top 10 list for MOOCs compiled by Class Central in November. Hitting the top ten at Class Central was a first for Cornish and for Kadenze, a site that specializes in MOOCs related to the arts.

On November 16, the Provost Office and Music Department hosted a Master Class taught by Yitzhak Yedid, an Israeli-born composer/pianist/scholar. Yedid conducted Cornish students Austin Larkin, violin; Trevor O'Loughlin, contrabass, and Colin Wood, piano, from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Cornish students gathered in PONCHO to watch their classmates work with Yedid via a global streaming link.

The Google Hangout Live is now available to the public and has picked up more than 200 views since this master class finished on Monday.

Yedid is known for his “third stream” music that combines jazz, Western classical, Arabic, and Jewish music styles. An accomplished jazz pianist, he is equally adept as a composer of orchestral and chamber music. Among his recent awards are the prestigious Israeli Landau Prize for the Arts, the Israel Prime Minister’s Prize for Classical Composers, the first composition prize at the International Oud Festival and the first composition prize at the 17th International Harp Contest. Currently Yedid is a Lecturer at the Queesnsland Conservatorium Griffith University.

In the Google Hangout, anyone anywhere in the world can watch how a master music class operates at Cornish. The class began with opening remarks from Yedid in his studio followed by a performance and coaching of the Cornish students on his Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio. Yedid also answered questions from the audience, both those present in PONCHO Concert Hall at Cornish College of the Arts and those listening online. 

Cornish’s Next Century Gala Launches Next 100 Years

Cornish's centennial year ended with the event, marking a time to focus the College on the its next 100 years. The Next Century Gala brought board members, contributors, friends, students, faculty, and staff to the stylish Four Seasons Hotel on November 13 to celebrate the moment. This gala, as it does every year, has a vital interest: raising money to make a Cornish education possible for deserving students. This year, over half a million dollars was raised for this purpose. The gala's purpose was serious, but so was its fun.

After the black-tie guests to Cornish's Next Century Gala entered the Four Season Hotel, they were greeted by Cornish students and invited to watch performances of “Tiny Dances” choreographed by Wade Madsen. Next up was a screening of “itsy bitsy,” a film created by Cornish dance student JuJu Kusanagi '16  and her sister Lisa Kusanagi. The Kusunagi Sisters (as they call their production company) won the Audience Choice Award at the 40 NORTH Dance Film Festival 2015 and "itsy bitsy" has been screened at multiple festivals. Other student performances included musicians Andrew Forbes, Ruby Dunphy, and Michael Conlin, as well as the alumni-student jazz ensemble Lucas Winter Trio (Lucas Winter, Adam Kessler, and Paul Gabrielson).  

The evening’s welcome speeches began when Linda Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees, acknowledged faculty member Timothy McCuen Piggee’s recent receipt of the 2015 Gregory A. Falls Award for Sustained Achievement and his many contributions to theater in Seattle as well as at Cornish. Piggee acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

Dr. Nancy J. Uscher acknowledged the distinguished history of Cornish, which figured prominently in the birth of the American avant garde movement, and the many achievements of its alumni in Seattle and around the world.  She noted the evolving role of the artist in society and the ways in which Cornish prepares its students to be leaders in a changing world. “Our own graduate, and now trustee, Eleuthera Lisch, has spent decades using her artistic talents to work on the prevention of gang violence and to frame gang behavior as a public health issue,” Uscher said.

Her remarks were followed by the Honorable Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle, and student speaker AnnaClaire Laush '17. Murray touched on the recent tragedy in France as well as the importance of the arts to bridge cultures and bring people together. Lausch spoke of being a "rebel" who dared to take her dreams of a career in the arts seriously, rather than seeking a college degree that led to a more mundane job. Laush also acknowledged the support of people like the Gala audience that made her scholarships and college career possible.

Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and director Brian Yorkey, who directed the current production of My Fair Lady at Village Theatre, also spoke movingly about the arts. Then the crowd was presented with what the power of art can do, via the vocal pyrotechnics of special guest Stephanie Block. Everyone learned what kind of star quality puts an artist in Broadway musicals and earns a Tony Award nomination. Block received warm applause punctuated with standing, whooping, ovations for "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl and for a song from a role she defined on the national tour of Wicked, Elphaba's "Defying Gravity." 

The evening was a celebratory start to Cornish's second century that helped fund more than half million dollars in scholarships for students like Lausch. 

15/16  Arts Incubator Residencies Begin with Kusanagi’s Durational Art

Julia Kusanagi. Photo: Lisa Kusanagi.

15/16 Arts Incubator Residencies Begin with Kusanagi’s Durational Art

The Arts Incubator residencies at the Cornish Playhouse began last year as part of the facility’s extensive public benefit program. Recognizing the artists of all types need a place to experiment, the residencies support artists in the creation of work that is outside the boundaries of their genre, discipline, or comfort zone. “The intention of Arts Incubator is not to create a final, polished product,” said Playhouse Manager Liisa Spink. “Instead, the program seeks to give artists time and space to incubate and begin to develop an idea, concept, or exploration. The chosen recipients receive free space at the Playhouse to nurture their projects.”

The first residency was completed by Julia (JuJu) Kusanagi '16, a student in Cornish’s Dance department. Last month, Kusanagi worked on a durational performance that combines visual art, dance improvisation, and body art film on the screen in the Playhouse’s Founder’s Room. The visual art component, which included 200 dried flowers, was complemented by the body art film aimed at separating the audience from the outside world. Other elements included a dance improvisation score and a durational performance to highlight the idea of the constant change of the matter. By allowing the audience to enter and leave anytime during the performance, according to Kusanagi, the project gave the space and the body to change and made the art alive visibly.

In November, Veronica Lee-Baik will work in the main auditorium on “Her Name is lsaac” which confronts the journey of being a woman in a man's world. Lee-Baik’s work challenges viewers to re-think their emotional and physical response to viewing the female form. “As an Asian artist, I investigate topics that fly under the radar. I want to invoke experiences that connect and engage the community in ways that promote understanding across social boundaries,” said Lee-Baik. “A single red balloon is an ever-present reminder of the duality of burden and hope all women carry (in Eastern cultures the color red signifies positivity). lsaac also means 'laughter.' In this work, laughter symbolizes hope for the end of a society where men make decisions for women and their bodies.”

Alice Gosti worked on her project TO|GET|HER last year at the Playhouse. “The residency was a crucial moment in the development of the piece. In 11 days, huge steps were made in the design and content of the work,” she said. In January, Gosti will use the Alhadeff Studio to develop a new project called “Bodies of Water.” This five-hour performance spectacle dedicated to the politics of water is scheduled to premiere later in 2016. “The piece will be a celebration of Seattle while also creating a conversation around its historically problematic and layered relationship with its own bodies of water,” said Gosti.

Hannah Simmons’ choreographic work sits at the intersection of dance, math, and technology. “I find that generating movement material can be equated to developing an algorithm: the choreographer provides a structural impetus and the dancers carry out the instructions to reveal a precise output. I am interested in experimenting with visualizing choreographic structures and exploring what it means to quantify a choreographic system,” she said. In February, Simmons will explore these inquiries by creating a number of interactive and analytical tools that can be employed to understand and reframe choreographic structure and form.

“With percussion and contemporary dance, we plan to experiment with the idea of the audience having control over an aspect or aspects of our live performance through unplanned obstacles and challenges,” said Melanie Voytovich in her proposal for a March project in the Founder’s Room. The audience input could include physical structures in the dancer’s path, giving instruments to a musician or taking them away, a graphic score for the musician that can be rotated, and even changing the tempo of the musician, dancer, or both the whole piece at once. “Within this context, we also aim to balance the two art forms in both the creative process and finished project,” she said.

Applications for residencies at the Cornish Playhouse begin in the spring, with final decisions made by the start of the summer. The Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator Residency is open to anyone age 18 and older, including professional and non-professional artists, teachers, ensembles and groups, and students. The residency is open to both those within the Cornish community and those outside the Cornish community. The lead artist applying must be a Washington State resident. 

Fever One Energized By Cornish Students

By Drew Lewis '18 and Julia Sloane '16

A Seattle native, Fever One grew up in the 70s around West Coast funk styles popping and locking, and was immediately drawn to the culture of hip-hop dancing. Fever found his passion in breaking, an East Coast style, when the media brought it over in the 1980’s. After Fever had been dancing for about five years, he met Icey Ice, a B-boy from the Bronx and member of the New York City Breakers, who moved to Seattle to finish high school and became Fever’s first mentor.

In the late 90s, Fever moved to NYC where he performed with many groups on the scene including the off-broadway show Jam on the Groove and eventually battled his way into the internationally acclaimed Rock Steady Crew, as well as gaining many other television and music video credits. He continued his teaching in after-school programs with teenagers and then began lecturing and teaching workshops at universities including Yale, Princeton, and Rutgers. He is currently involved in Opposing Forces, a show directed by Cornish dance alum Amy O'Neal '99, which blends modern/contemporary dance with breaking and street styles. A role model and esteemed elder in the community, Fever judges many battles/competitions, including those staged in Seattle by local hip-hop group Massive Monkeys, and teaches internationally.

Fever teaches in Seattle at the Beacon, a studio run by Massive Monkeys, with whom he occasionally does shows as well. This was his first time teaching at Cornish, and his semester-long course at Cornish Commons included dance students Drew Lewis and Julia Sloane. The pair sat down to interview him following class in October.

JS & DL: What was it like when you started?

FO: Back then it was not so happy-go-lucky, where you could just try it and everyone would be like 'Oh cool' and encourage you, it was actually kind of the opposite, like if you were no good people would laugh at you and diss you, right? So I was a little bit like 'Ah, I should just watch.' And then around 1982 is when the media started jumping on breaking, the style that came from the East Coast. I first saw that when I was 12 years old. And I saw that it was more something that I felt like I could do, because I was more into martial arts, and was hyper, you know?

JS: Did you have any important mentors, or did you do it mostly on your own?

FO: When I first started, I started on my own, kind of how most people start, savage schooling, you know, you see it, and you try to emulate what you see. With breaking, it would come on TV … and you would be lucky if you had a VCR … you press record to catch it. And if you were able to do that you were gold, you could rewind it and watch it a bunch of times. And then someone would say 'Aw that’s not how you do it, you do it like this.'

JS & DL: When did you begin teaching hip-hop?

FO: I started work in middle schools in Seattle in the early 90s working with a lot of … inner street youth, they called them … but you know it was just kids who had older brothers in gangs.

JS & DL: How would you describe the local scene now?

FO: The thing that is really cool about Seattle is that we've had a really strong local scene for a long time, so no matter what battles you go to, you'll see really good competition … and [audience] turnout.

DL: How do you feel about teaching at Cornish or other colleges? That’s an environment completely different than the one you learned this art form in.

FO: This is my first time teaching in a college for the arts, and being in that setting, [I’m] dealing with people who already have more of an interest than somebody who would just be taking a course, because they [Cornish students] care a little bit more about the history, where it’s coming from, where it’s going. So I just really enjoy being able to teach in an atmosphere where you are getting the energy back.


Drew Lewis and Julia Sloane are students in the Dance Department.

Solis’ “Quixote” Journeys to the Playhouse

Octavio Solis, writer of "Quixote: Book One," speaks at a Cornish Theater Department original works class. Photo: Mark Bocek.

Solis’ “Quixote” Journeys to the Playhouse

​Octavio Solis is relaxed and in fine humor in the lobby of his hotel, which is strategically placed equidistant from Cornish’s Main Campus and the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. It is at the Playhouse that Quixote: Book One, an important second production of his adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote will open November 6 in the 440-seat main auditorium. It is co-produced by the Cornish Theater and Performance Production departments and is co-directed by Sheila Daniels and department chair Richard E.T. White. Solis  now lives on a farm near Ashland, Oregon, where the first production of his adaptation was presented. “The production at Oregon Shakespeare Festival could have used a bit more time,” he says. Solis has come to Cornish to work with the students who are helping him refine the script even as they prepare to present the play to the public. His time in Seattle includes work with Cornish students in the rehearsal hall and the classroom.


Don Quixote is the story of a journey of the mind and the imagination more than of physical distance. As an adaptor of the classic work by Cervantes, Solis reminds us that as widely as Quixote and Sancho Panza roam, they actually never leave their small province in Spain. Solis sees Don Quixote as an act of migration that is much more than a journey measured in miles and border crossings. He believes that our every move individually and as a people is first made in our minds: movement and migration are natural to us.

Solis is fascinated by the idea of migration, tracing its intellectual course through classics such as The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and all the way up to Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, which he has used as the basis for a script. “It’s an ancient story,” he says, “It goes back to Exodus. It goes even further back than that.”

He comes by this fascination with migration naturally, as the son of parents from Mexico who settled in El Paso, Texas. “I feel there’s been a gradual, epic migration over the last hundred years of Mexicans to this country," says Solis. "They represent people who have lost faith and hope in their own country, and in the way of life there … they come here to find new life, to energize their blood again, find new spirit. … They’ve altered the American landscape. They’ve altered the American character and revitalized it, changed it in a dramatic way.” But migration works both ways, as a people are transformed by their journey. “They will be changed. … wherever they go, they’re going to be a different people. They’re not only going to change the landscape, they’re going to be changed by it.”

“That’s what’s happening to Quixote as well," Solis continues. "Don Quixote wants to abandon his house, wants to abandon the life that he has lived, which he finds so tedious, so boring, and a waste. A waste of his youth, of his heart, of his imagination, and he wants to live the life that he’s been reading in his books. He want to transform, he wants to go out into the world to do that. He wants to be Spiderman. He wants to be a superhero. He wants to save the world.”

Like Quixote, early on, Solis journeyed widely but within his own province, Texas. From his home town of El Paso he went to college at Trinity University in San Antonio and then into the art world in Dallas. There, he toyed with writing, but felt as though theater he knew was too small and too prosaic for what he wanted to do. “I had started writing some of these pieces for myself, these strange musical, lyric, poetic dramas that were kind of silly, kind of fun, but I never felt permission to share them, or air them or to stage them,” he says.

Then he got a part in Eric Overmyer’s language-drenched drama about a late-night underground disc jockey, Native Speech, at the Dallas Theatre Center. “I had never read anything like Native Speech," says Solis, "Never come across any of that kind of stuff, except maybe those of the early, early 20th century, the lyric poetry, the poetic dramas of Yeats or Beckett.” Solis had discovered a model for a more poetic theater. “It turned my head around.”

After Overmyer, he gravitated towards other playwrights who shared the same sort of vision and freedom, such as Sam Shepard and Maria Irene Fornes—who he considers a mentor—and Erik Ehn, with whom he collaborated on Shiner for Dallas’ Undermain Theatre. It is this kind of theatrical energy that led Solis to the story of Quixote, like Native Speech, Quixote is in his hands “a dreamed reality, through a prism that was more lyrical, more poetic and less realistic.”

Octavio Solis’ works include Alicia’s Miracle, Se Llama Cristina, Ghosts of the River, Lydia, June in a Box, Lethe, Marfa Lights, Gibraltar, The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, The 7 Visions of Encarnación, Bethlehem, Dreamlandia, El Otro, Man of the Flesh, Prospect, El Paso Blue, Santos & Santos, and La Posada Mágica. Among the theaters at which he has been presented include the California Shakespeare Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, El Teatro Campesino, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Magic Theatre, South Coast Repertory Theatre, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, Latino Chicago Theatre Company, the New York Summer Play Festival, Teatro Vista in Chicago, Campo Santo, and the Imua Theatre Company in New York.

Jungalbook - Observing an Evening at Cornish

Cast of "Jungalbook" at Cornish. Photo: Leah Erickson Webster.

Jungalbook - Observing an Evening at Cornish

by Leah Erickson Webster '16

Jungalbook is the next production up at Cornish, opening Wednesday, October 28, in the Alhadeff Studio at the Cornish Playhouse. Based on The Jungle Book, a collection of Mowgli stories by Rudyard Kipling, and adapted by local playwright Edward Mast, Jungalbook is an addition to a season composed entirely of adaptative scripts. Set on a jungle gym instead of the jungle of India, this continuation of The Jungle Book stories breathes new life into the classic tale of the boy raised by wolves. Will Mowgli honor the code of the jungle creatures who raised him, or turn to the ways of man, leaving the jungle forever?

Jungalbook was the first junior class production to begin rehearsals at Cornish this year. It’s being produced by Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department, under the direction of Rhonda J. Soikowski, professor of voice and speech and a Cornish alumna, and assistant directed by her former student, original works major Charlotte Deutsch. Full disclosure - Charlotte and I have been friends and collaborators for many years.

I began my investigation by stopping by rehearsal to get a cast photo. I arrived at the space 30 minutes early. There was Charlotte, already busy discussing costumes and lights with her team of designers. Several actors were already moving around the space.One actor was rehearsing his lines while another did a sun salute and then laid for ten minutes in savasana position, flat on her back. Other black sweatpant-clad students started filling in, with tea and marked up scripts.

They begin warming up, some jumping around full of energy, some stretching on the ground practicing lines, others debating the nuances of their characters’ relationships. Their ferocity and enthusiasm makes sense, as I remember that Rhonda teaches a unit in her voice class on the importance of developing a personal warm-up. Rick McKenzie walks in with a ladder, causing Charlotte to jump up and help set up a temporary version of what will eventually become a fully-realized jungle gym set in a few weeks. Some actors pause their warm-ups to try out their new ladder, finally able to work with the shapes, height, and distance they have been imagining for weeks. A cacophony of noise fills the echoey studio. And then finally it’s 7:30, and Rhonda walks in. Immediately the energy shifts, and the vocalizing calms slowly to a quiet hum. The actors put away their tea and extra layers of clothing, gathering around the table where the design team sits with Rhonda and Charlotte. “Hi, guys.” She says with a smile.

After she calls the rehearsal to order, I get my picture and clear the room. The process is at a very delicate stage. They had just finished blocking and were ready to do their first run-thru. This is when the real energy of the show emerges. When I spoke to Rhonda after the run, she was giddy with discovery.

There is a question that dramaturgs often ask directors at a first meeting and then repeatedly throughout a process to see if the answer changes. They assume that every production is somehow “called” by the community. Why this play here? Why this play now?

RJS: I’m not sure I know the answer to that question for sure yet. But this show is called. It reminds us that we are wild in our civilization. Cornish kids are nothing if not wild within their structure. Artists in general, really. But we have been trained to believe we are helpless to change that structure. We all have to unlearn that. We’re paralyzed. It has become clear to me that we don’t all start at zero. In this play, I see the privilege conundrum- I’m still in the process now, and I'm asking the play how I can help it tell its story better.

I’m very glad to know that the privilege conundrum is being addressed this season at Cornish, as we are all so privileged to be a part of the Cornish community … and many of us for other reasons.

RJS: There is a global paradigm shift happening. It’s an illumination of truth that the web is making possible. Black Lives Matter is a part of that global illumination of truth. In the 90s, Los Angeles was on fire, and before that, and before that, and now it’s everywhere.This play is about a privileged young person- can he accept the advantage he has and avoid moving forward abusing it?

Mowgli is frail and human in a menacing environment, but for much of his life, the knowledge of his frailty is kept from him and he is kept safe. He grows up thinking he is king. But he has an awakening. He sees his fragility, his fallibility, vulnerability, and power. He sees how he can use his power for good or evil. His privilege is illuminated to him - but also his vulnerability. It’s confusing. The world is in a huge shift. The cast and I are finding glimpses of these shifts in our Jungalbook.

Is this project different from other shows you have worked on as a director?

RJS: Well, what I’m doing here is using my directing skills to further [the students'] careers, this isn't what I’d consider part of my professional career. I consider it a part of my career in academia. I learn more by doing, so part of my privilege as a director with a certain amount of success is to help young artists to grow, while still learning myself.

And how has it been working with a student director?

RJS: At Cornish, an assistant director can expect to observe a professional director work and take notes on the process - but often a deeper collaboration occurs. I don’t usually like to work with ADs because of all the teaching that goes on already when working with student actors. The teaching can take energy from the artistry, and vice versa.

I thought with this process it just wouldn’t work. However, over the summer I worked with Charlotte Deutsch on another project and I saw the deep respect to the process, the deep strength she added to the room, her attention to detail. I remembered those traits from working with her as an actor in her voice class sophomore year. Seeing her work as a member of the production team showed me she would be the kind of person who could bring herself and her strength to the room.

I trusted that I could give her whole rehearsals and she wouldn’t be hurt when I made adjustments. That was what I did in my senior year at Cornish, in the late 90s, working with Rosa Joshi. It was great. She let me take a scene into a different room, and then we would present it to her for adjustments. That is what I did with Charlotte this week, and it went very well.

Your directing career at Cornish has really come full circle!

RJS: Yes, you could say that.

More information and tickets.

Broadway Stars Headline Cornish’s Next Century Gala

Stephanie J Block. Photo: Tess Steinkolk & Bill Westmoreland.

Broadway Stars Headline Cornish’s Next Century Gala

Musical theater star Stephanie J. Block and acclaimed playwright/director Brian Yorkey will headline Cornish College of the Arts’ Next Century Gala on November 13, 2015, at The Four Seasons Hotel.


Block is best known for her portrayal as Elphaba in the Broadway company of Wicked as well as performing the role in the First National Tour for which she won numerous awards including the prestigious Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. She also received both the 2013 Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Alice Nutting/Edwin Drood in The Roundabout Theatre's production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

American playwright, lyricist, and theatre director Brian Yorkey developed his musical Next to Normal with composer Tom Kitt at the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington. The play receved both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for its portrayal of a family dealing with mental illness. Yorkey began his musical career as a KidStage student at Village Theatre and subsequently served as their associate artistic director for six years. Most recently, he returned to the Northwest to direct Cabaret.

In addition to a special performance by Block and remarks by Yorkey, the audience will enjoy performances by Cornish students. This black-tie dinner event celebrates Cornish’s next century of artistic innovation as well as conclude the celebration of a centennial that included the addition of a BFA program in Film+Media, the completion of the Cornish Commons residence all, and the planning of a new Creative Corridor to enhance the intergration of performing and visual arts.

Throughout its long history, Cornish has been known for attracting ground-breaking artists and thinkers to Seattle. This October, Cornish hosted the 2015 Arts Schools Network national conference. This year’s conference focused on the future of arts education at all levels, including how to incorporate technology into the K-12 classroom in a meaningful way. Held for the first time in the Pacific Northwest, the international confence attracted arts educators from across the United States, Canada, and South Africa.

Also in October, Cornish began a new collaboration between the College and its near neighbor the Institute of Systems Biology. Through this Consillience Program, Cornish and ISB will host artists and scientists  in an effort to bring together science, arts and humanities to engage a wider public.

Interdisciplinary “Nightmare”  at Cornish

​Eerie, creepy sounds are filling the 6th and 7th floors of Cornish’s Main Campus Center. It’s a sound design being prepared for opening of “Nightmare Gallery” which represents the latest wrinkle in a 100-year tradition of cross-disciplinary dreams at Cornish. Designed and rigged by students from every department at Cornish in both the visual and performing arts, the “Halloween haunted gallery is produced by Students for Interdepartmental Collaborative Events (ICE), a student interest group (SIG). The exhibition will run from October 26 – 31, with performances on Monday, October 26, and Saturday, October 31, from 7–9:00 p.m.

The exhibition is centered on the stairwell that connects the visual arts studios on the 6th floor of the MCC with the meeting rooms on the 7th. “The gallery is a Halloween haunted gallery featuring and displaying art works from most if not all disciplines at Cornish College of the arts,” reads ICE’s release. There will be actors and dancers in a series of designed environments. “We will be displaying paintings, sets, costumes and costume designs, animation, make-up, sculpture, wood-burning, sound design, and much, much more.”

“Nightmare Gallery” is just the beginning for ICE. “Students for Interdepartmental Collaborative Events is a SIG dedicated to branching out from our departments, extending olive branches, and creating interesting events with our combined creativity,” representatives said recently. “We are hoping to have 2 shows a semester, one larger and the other smaller.”

ICE promises a “few live performers … and one who will visit us from the grave.” Woooooooo …

Cornish Faculty Lead Sessions at Arts Schools Network

Teaching students for a career in the arts that won’t start until 2021 or later informed many of the seminars planned for this year’s Arts Schools Network national conference. Held for the first time in the Pacific Northwest, ANS Executive Director Kristy Callaway had no problem enticing  her membership to Seattle. The 2015 conference focuses the ways that technology enhances and impacts the arts, and it quickly sold out. “We barely had to market this one after we said that it would be in Seattle,” mentioned Callaway. “Everybody wants to come here and see what’s going on.”

With the bulk of sessions taking place at the Cornish Playhouse and surrounding venues at the Seattle Center, Cornish faculty led many of the discussions on how to craft a truly 21st century approach to arts education.

Following tours of Cornish’s South Lake Union campus on Wednesday, Provost Moira Scott Payne and leaders of Cornish’s visuals arts programs discuss how to create student-centered learning guided by a balanced approach to thinking and making, as well as rigorous conceptual inquiry and research. Although this model of higher education for the arts has been used in Europe for almost a decade, Cornish is the first arts college to implement it in the United States. Payne will be joined in this discussion by Design Chair Jeff Brice, who recently returned from addressing an international design conference in South Korea, Interim Chair of Visual Arts Dawn Gavin, and Assistant Provost Star Rush.

On Thursday, Program Leader of Film+Media, Lyall Bush, leads a panel of local film experts in an examination of what forms and what new languages must be made available to the media makers of 2025.  ​Executive director of Northwest Film Forum from 2008 to 2015, Bush joined Cornish this year to shape the college’s newest BFA program. He will be joined in this discussion with Cheryll Hidalgo, film faculty at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences; Stefanie Malone, executive director of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY); and Liz Shepherd, youth programs director at Northwest Film Forum.

Also on Thursday, Interim Music Chair Tom Baker asks a panel of teachers and composers to consider ways to create interactivity, collaboration, and innovation in classes for younger music students. The founder of the Cornish Live-Electronics Ensemble (CLEE), Baker discusses how the real technologists are the middle school and high school “sound-makers” who are equally comfortable with creating on their computers as with their instruments. He is joined by Steve Barsotti, sound artist and music faculty at Cornish; Shawn Tolley, music teacher at Stevens Elementary School (Spokane, WA); and Josh Parmenter, composer and software engineer.

On Friday, more than 100 high school students attending the conference will have master classes with Cornish alumna Kate Wallich and faculty members Tinka Gutrick-Dailey and Timothy McCuen Piggee. Wallich is a Seattle-based choreographer, director, and teacher who was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2015.  She will lead a dance master class in her own brand of movement technique. Piggee, an award-winning performer familiar to Seattle theater audiences for his work in drama and musicals, will lead the class on musical theater technique with choreographer/dance teacher Gutrick-Dailey.

Callaway also noted that Cornish Performance Production alumni turned out to help produce the conference and the performances by the high school students scheduled for Thursday evening.

Arts Schools Network Conference Held At Cornish

Nancy Uscher will open the plenary session of the 2015 ASN Conference.. Photo: Courtesy of artist.

Arts Schools Network Conference Held At Cornish

Arts Schools Network's 2015 Conference focuses on how arts educators can use technology in their classrooms, a fitting theme for its conference set on the grounds of the 1962 World's Fair and within the shadow of the Space Needle, Gates Foundation, and ever-expanding Amazon empire. 

ASN is a non-profit association founded in 1981, dedicated to providing leaders in arts schools with quality resources, support, and networking opportunities. The 2015 conference will bring more than 300 educators and administrators for grades K-12 to Seattle, WA, to discuss arts and technology. This is the first time that the conference has been held in Northwest. The majority of the conference sessions will be held at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center and surrounding venues on the Seattle Center campus. The educators will tour local area schools with strong arts programs including Spruce Street School, Adams Elementary School, Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, Tacoma School of the Arts, Washington Middle School, and host Cornish College of the Arts.

In addition, 100+ students from Idaho Arts Charter School, Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Seattle Academy, and Orange County School of the Arts will be in attendance. They will participate in a number of student workshops taught by Seattle artists and Cornish faculty as well as touring the EMP and other nearby arts facilities. The students will perform for the conference attendees on Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Cornish Playhouse.

Keynote speakers for the conference will be Monica Ponce de Leon, Dean and Eliel Saarinen Collegiate Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning of University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Jeff Poulin, Arts Education Program Director, for Americans for the Arts. Cornish faculty speaking at the conference include  Dr. Nancy Uscher, President; Moira Scott Payne, Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs; Jeff Brice, Design Department Chair, Dawn Gavin, Interim Chair of the Visual Arts; Star Rush, Associate Provost; Genevieve Tremblay, Design Faculty and Coordinator; Lyall Bush, Film + Media Program Lead; Tom Baker, Music Interim Chair; Jonathan Lindsay, Vice President for Enrollment Management; and theater faculty Tinka Gutrick-Dailey and Timothy McCuen Piggee.

As part of the Arts Schools Network 2015 Conference, local students can attend a free summer programs and college fair at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center on Oct. 21, 4 pm to 6 pm. Representatives from 25 summer programs and arts colleges will be on hand to answer questions about audition process, portfolio reviews, and applications. Information on scholarships and financial aid will be available.

College And University Colleagues Meet At Cornish

Emily Lardner, Director of the Washington Center, and Jean MacGregor, Senior Scholar and Director of the Curriculum for the Bioregion, the Washington Center at the Evergreen State College. Photo: Star Rush.

College And University Colleagues Meet At Cornish

On Oct 16 2015, Cornish hosted nearly 40 colleagues from Washington state's colleges and universities for the 2015 Learning Communities Coordinator's Meeting. "I'm excited to welcome this group which has faculty and administrators from 2- and 4- colleges throughout the state to Cornish," said Tanya Matthews, who serves on the Steering Committee for the Washington State Communities Consortium. 

The Washington State Learning Communities Consortium is operated as part of the National Resource Center for Learning Communities by the Evergreen State College's Washington Center, which is directed by Emily Lardner, Ph.D. Cornish Humanities & Sciences faculty and First-Year Specialist Matthews worked to coordinate the meeting that brings educators together to exchange best practices, explore collaborative learning, and innovations in team or co-teaching. During the meeting, Cornish faculty presented on the college's newly revised integrative curriculum in the Visual Arts programs. Panelists were Gala Bent, Program Leader in Foundations; Ruth Tomlinson, Art Faculty, Susan Boye, Design Faculty, and Gayle Clemans, Critical & Contextual Faculty. Sonja Durr, Design faculty, and Rob Rhee, Art Faculty, hosted attendee visits to classrooms, and Nadya Zimmerman, Humanities & Sciences faculty, facilitated studio tour and discussion.

The Washington Learning Communities Consortium works on integrative teaching and learning in a number of contexts in post-secondary institutions across the state. Cornish is pleased to share the college's  work in developing integrative curricular design and pedagogy. For information contact Matthews in the Humanities & Sciences Department at Cornish.

Cornish’s Fall Theater Season Brings Playwrights To Campus

Cornish College of the Arts’ fall theater season emphasizes works by contemporary playwrights and includes three Seattle premieres. "This fall we explore the theme of adaptation," said Theater Chair Richard E.T. White. "These are works adapted from some of the greatest works of literature and some of the cheesiest B-movies about 'women behind bars.' Moreover, each of these plays, in its own way, raises the question of how we (and whether we should) adapt to extreme circumstances. It's particularly exciting that a number of the writers are local to Seattle and one is a Cornish alumna."

Between Oct. 22 and  Dec. 18, Cornish students will perform in Kelleen Conway Blanchard’s Kittens In A Cage, Edward Mast’s Jungalbook,  Octavio Solis’s Quixote: Book One, Dipika Guha’s Blown Youth, Naomi Iizuka’s Anon(ymous),
Karen Hartman’s Wild Kate: A Tale of  Revenge at Sea, and a cabaret revue, Golden. With many of the plays, the students are able to rehearse or meet with the writer and discuss the process of moving a project from page to stage.

This year Cornish is offering a fall season ticket, making it possible to see all seven works produced between October and December for $35 for students, $47 for seniors, and $84 for ageneral admission.  Individual show tickets range from $5 for students to $17 for general admission. All ticket sales help support scholarships for theater students at Cornish.

The season opens Oct. 22 with local playwright and Cornish Theater alumna Kelleen Conway Blanchard’s black comedy Kittens In A Cage. The play about “tough broads who can’t get no breaks” inspired a successful web
series starring l. Kittens In A Cage will be performed at the Skinner Theatre in the 100-year-old Raisbeck Performance Hall on Cornish’s South Lake Union campus.

Local playwright  Edward Mast’s adaptation of Kipling’s Mowgli stories resets the action of Jungalbook on a jungle gym. This fresh look at the stories will take place in the Alhadeff Studio at Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center on Oct. 28 to 31 and Nov. 1.

Opening on the Cornish Playhouse mainstage on Nov. 6 is Quixote: Book One by Latino playwright Octavio Solis (El Paseo Blues). Previously staged at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this new adaptation of Don Quixote makes its Seattle premiere with these performances. Solis uses uses poetic language, song, dance, sword-fighting, and dynamic transformation to bring the denizens of Quixote’s Spain, both human and animal, to vivid life. The playwright worked with the students earlier this fall and the production is co-directed by White and local director Sheila Daniels. The production runs Nov. 6 through 8, and Nov. 12 through 13.

Dipika Guha’s Blown Youth, inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, was originally commissioned by Barnard College at Columbia University and the New Georges theater company also make its Seattle premiere this season.  This original, feminist work on gender inequality in theater dares to ask what would happen if the center of the play was a woman. Blown Youth runs Nov. 12 to 14 and Nov. 19 to 21 at the Alhadeff Studio at Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.

Homer’s Odyssey is reimagined by Naomi Iizuka in Anon(ymous). Separated from his mother, a young refugee called Anon journeys through the United States, encountering a wide variety of people — some kind, some dangerous and cruel — as he searches for his family. Anon(ymous) plays Nov. 18 to 22 at the Skinner Theatre in Raisbeck Performance Hall.

Cornish Theater moves to Capitol Hill in December for the Seattle premiere of Wild Kate: A Tale of Revenge at Sea at 12th Avenue Arts Black Box.  Local playwright Karen Hartman has crafted a seagoing adventure inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick and the Deepwater Oil Rig disaster. Wild Kate plays Dec. 9 through 13.

The fall theater season at Cornish closes with a cabaret revue. Conceived and directed by Frances King and award-winning faculty member Timothy McCuen Piggee, with music direction by Katherine Strohmaier, Golden, A Cabaret, explores themes of thankfulness and gratitude.

More on each work can be found in Cornish's student calendar.

Coming to Cornish: Jean-Baptiste Barrière On Music and Visual Art

Jean-Baptiste Barrière. Photo: Tianyue Sun.

Coming to Cornish: Jean-Baptiste Barrière On Music and Visual Art

French composer and sound designer Jean-Baptiste Barrière is known for incorporating the visual arts into performances of his works. He has teamed up with internationally recognized flutist Camilla Hoitenga to present a a multi-media concert  featuring breathtaking electronic music by Barrière and Kaija Saariaho for flute, electronics and video. Seattle audiences can experience Hoitenga and Barrière at the PONCHO Concert Hall on October 15. Cornish Music Chair Tom Baker spoke to Barrière recently about his work and his upcoming concert.

TB: Camilla Hoitenga will be joining you for your residency and concert here at Cornish in October.  What do you find most rewarding about your collaboration with her?

J-BB:  Camilla Hoitenga is a unique musician, dedicated and inventive. Her long collaboration with Kaija Saariaho and her intimate knowledge of her music, has been for me a permanent source of admiration and inspiration for 30 years. She understands perfectly what I am looking for musically, in particular in terms of color and expression. Communication between us is straight and easy, and collaboration therefore very productive. I find myself privileged to be working with such a musician.

TB:  You worked on a "prop opera" with Peter Greenaway, called 100 Objects to Represent the World. I imagine this collaboration to be inspiring and profound, given both of your work. Might you talk for a moment about your views on collaboration, and how this or other projects have informed those views?

J-BB:  This should be a time of “interdisciplinarity,” in particular in the domains of music and arts. However, many people talk about it, but few do it in practice. All fields of knowledge are saturated: nobody can pretend to master all the aspects of even one single domain. Therefore collaboration is a practical necessity, but it should also be the ultimate artistic challenge: by confronting with the others, we get to go beyond our own limits, to make things which we would not do otherwise, and while learning about the artistic visions of others, we learn in the same time to better understand ourselves, and we enrich ourselves. This is what I have learned from my experiences with Greenaway, and even further through the 20-years-long common endeavor with the French artist Maurice Benayoun: collaboration forces you to go beyond boundaries, to reconsider your — sometimes unconscious — a priori, and therefore to venture  into new territories and make discoveries, including about yourself.

TB: What were some of the first works you did in in electronic music and composition, and how did this merge with (or stay parallel to) your work in acoustic composition?

J-BB: I started electronic music very early, when I was 13 years old in 1971. This was the high time of analog synthesizers. My father being an electronics engineer,  we did also construct at some point analog modules to complete my equipment. I was then doing studio works as well as live works, including with a synthesizer ensemble consisting of composers from all over Europe, performing our own pieces in France and in Germany, mixing instruments and electronics, and also Stockhausen repertoire for live-electronics.

But after some years, I was disappointed by the poor level of musical control and reliability of analog devices, so as soon as it became possible, I started to study computer science at Université de Paris I - Panthéon Sorbonne, as part of my studies in Philosophy, which were including Mathematical Logic as well as the Arts.  Computer Music was representing the theoretical possibility to access to the totality of the sonic universe, with infinite precision, and without the constraints and limitations of the instrumental world.

TB:  Your work as a composer seems to be intricately tied to your work as a visual artist, video artist, etc. How do you reconcile and integrate these different artistic pathways in your work and life?

J-BB:  I have always been fascinated by image as much as by music, and more specifically by the combination, the interactions of both. My education and training actually included both. Today computers are capable of transforming and synthesizing sound and image in real time. Moreover, the same software can often be used to describe image and sound, therefore it becomes possible to imagine and realize parallel, evolving processes in two dimensions, musical and visual, in totally new ways. Not in order to achieve synesthesia—which is a utopia—which is not an aim in itself, but to develop our aesthetic experiences, and beyond that, our senses.


Barrière also will lead two master classes for Cornish students on Oct. 15 and 31. These classes are open to the public. For more information, see the Visiting Artists section of the calendar.

Timothy McCuen Piggee Receives Theatre Puget Sound’s Sustained Achievement Award

Timothy McCuen Piggee. Photo: Larae Lobdell, courtesy of TPS.

Timothy McCuen Piggee Receives Theatre Puget Sound’s Sustained Achievement Award

Cornish faculty member Timothy McCuen Piggee will receive the Sustained Achievement Award from Theatre Puget Sound (TPS) in October as part of the 7th Annual Gregory Awards. As a vital part of the Seattle’s theatre ecosystem, Piggee has taught and directed at Cornish College of the Arts for 21 years, as well as directed productions and readings at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, Village Theatre, Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and many others.

In addition, Piggee has appeared on most Seattle stages, including leading roles with ACT Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Village Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Showtunes, Seattle Group Theatre, The Empty Space Theatre, and Tacoma Actor’s Guild, among others. Nationally his work has been seen on Broadway and at the Denver Center Theatre Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Portland Center Stage and Pioneer Theatre Company, and his film and television credits include Late Show with David Letterman and the 65th Annual Tony Awards

Throughout his career, Piggee has worked to let “the work matter, and making sure there are always opportunities for myself and others to work," he said in the announcement of the Sustained Achievement Award. "I aim to by ‘symphonic’ or ‘hyphenated’ - unlimited in my own mind about the opportunities available to me. You have to find your own route to the truth - artistic, emotional, civic, and human - and then you’re able to be an agent of change and find joy in the serious business of living.”

The 18th Annual Gregory Awards will take place on October 26 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.

Next at Cornish for Piggee is the December cabaret show, which he conceives and directs with Frances King and with music direction by Katherine Strohmaier. This year's cabaret, Golden, will explore themes of thankfulness and gratitude, featuring Cornish theater students performing songs by Katy Perry, Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Blossom Dearie, Stevie Wonder, and others.

Student Show Becomes Part of South Lake Union Art Walk

Cameron Fletcher's New York Retrospectives II will be open as part of the South Lake Union Art Walk on October 1.  This show is the second part of the exhibition displayed at the Closet Gallery featuring the work done by two juniors who participated in the New York Studio Residency Program.

The New York Retrospectives I and II showcased the works made by Diego Suarez and Fletcher. The works of Suarez were on display earlier in September in New York Retrospectives I, which opened September 11. Fletcher's exhibition, New York Retrospectives II, opened last week and will be available for public viewing through October 2.

Each spring, two juniors from Cornish participate in the New York Studio Residency Program, a semester long, off-campus program for fine art majors located in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Students receive access to individual studio spaces and weekly critiques while being immersed in the New York art world.

Suarez started off this year's Closet Gallery shows with an installation conceived for the final exhibition of his residency as well as collaborations which extended beyond the program itself. In "The Violence of Absence," he examined absence as a metaphor and as a physical presence in an installation piece. "The white space becomes dirty over time as visitors come in, much like the way memories collect histories," said Suarez in his artist statement. "The multi-layered symbolism of the objects in the installation, including three collages, revolve around themes of identity, hybridity, the absurd, history, and image as a tool for discourse." More of Suarez's work can be seen at

Fletcher is a transdisciplinary artist using art making and performance as a vehicle to explore states of being. His work takes a scientific approach to measuring and quantifying, hypothesizing and speculation. Fletcher questions how objects are societally designated, and asks the audience to consider their personal connotations. Through meditation and repetitive acts he investigates the possibility of accessing and altering energy contained within materials. He utilizes the trance-like states brought on by performance, body suspension, ritual, and movement to explore honest, authentic, automatic flow and subconscious spaces. More of Cameron Fletcher's work at


Located in Cornish's Centennial Lab, The Closet Gallery is an exhibition space curated and managed by the Student Curators. With the motto of "for the students, by the students," the Closet Gallery hosts group shows, solo exhibitions, and cross department celebrations of visual arts. All current students at Cornish, regardless of their major, may submit proposals to the Student Curators.

Ninety-Four and Going Strong: Kerry Hall Gets a Facelift

A Capitol Hill landmark was gleaming when the wraps came off recently. The building was welcomed to the Seattle scene in 1921 as “The Cornish School Building” and is known as Kerry Hall today. Still used by Cornish's music, dance, and prep dance departments, Kerry has undergone a number of remodels over its 90+ years, including additions required by changing building codes. Starting in June 2015, Cornish began restoring this Seattle treasure, which is featured on the National Registry of Historic Places. All the repairs and renovations also had to meet with the approval of the Harvard-Belmont Historical District.

Kerry Hall is a solid masonry structure, brick covered with stucco with accents of bright-hued architectural terracotta. Like other Seattle buildings of similar age, there had been some separation of the brick from the stucco with subsequent cracking visible outside, so that nearly every façade of the building needed work. Parts of the facade were removed, patched, and replaced with true stucco on the south elevation. On the west end of the building, all failing stucco on the third floor porch was replaced. The two “wing walls” that flank the Roy Street stairs were stripped of stucco, brick repairs were made, and terra cotta planters cleaned and reset. The entire stucco façade of the building (east, west and south—the north face is un-stuccoed brick) was painted as was all the trim and the three “Juliette Balconies.” The signature portico that runs along outside the PONCHO Concert Hall is of concrete construction. It, too, was cleaned and repaired..

The original wooden windows on the south elevation of the building were removed and restored. This included repairing damaged or rotten wood and glazing, then installing new weather stripping and sash-weight ropes. The windows were then sealed, flashed, and painted inside and out. New flashing and drip edges added to the windows and doors on the third floor will protect against any further water intrusion. 

Since Kerry opened for the fall term of 1921, the sounds of music floating through the air have given this corner of Capitol Hill its atmosphere and caused some comment. In the latest restoration, magnetic storm windows were installed on the inside of many of the studio windows to keep the music inside.

Kerry's Spanish Revival style had suffered the addition of exterior lighting in 1980s style. These fixtures were replaced with period and architecturally correct lighting that utilize energy-saving LED lamps. New lighting was added at the southeast corner to improve safety. The old lighting on the north side also was replaced with new “dark sky” 100-percent-down lighting. 

Also restored was the Roy Street Lobby, changed back to its original Spanish Revival style with new flooring and more period lighting, including a new ceiling light fixture for the Harvard Street PONCHO Lobby. The public will be able to view many of these improvements as the free Midday Music and student recitals begin in October along with the Cornish Presents professional artists series . For a complete list of all events happening at PONCHO this fall, check the college's online calendar.

Illustrator/Animator David  Bolinksy Visits Cornish

Virus-scape. Photo: David Bolinsky.

Illustrator/Animator David Bolinksy Visits Cornish

Nearly 1.5 million people have watched David Bolinsky’s TED talk about how he and his team illustrate scientific and medical concepts with high-drama animation.On October 1, Bolinsky will bring his vision and expertise to Cornish  to mark the beginning of a cross-disciplinary partnership between Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) and Cornish. Part of ISB’s newly announced Consilience Program, this partnership brings scientists, artists, and scholars together to engage Cornish students and the wider public with systems biology. 

The term “Consilience” is defined as “a jumping together” of knowledge. Edward O. Wilson’s book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, inspired ISB founder Leroy Hood to use this name for ISB’s program that brings artists, scholars, and scientists together to create meaningful connections between the arts and science. Systems biology studies the large world of organisms—the manner in which they work together—and absorbing the broad swaths of knowledge contemplated by Wilson is a guiding concept.

Resident Research Fellow and Assistant Professor of Design Genevieve Tremblay has been working closely with Allison Kudla, senior communications designer at ISB, since last May to create this exciting collaboration. Bolinsky’s visit will include a film screening, presentations, and workshops with design, interior architecture, film, and visual arts students as well as one-on-one meetings with the frontier medical research scientists at ISB.

“Artists and designers bring valuable and diverse perspectives to research-based fields,” said Tremblay. “Allison and I have been working together with our respective colleagues to create ways to expand their engagement and exposure to advances and challenges in these frontier fields. This partnership with ISB is an extraordinary opportunity for our students, as it enhances their ability to traverse disciplinary boundaries as they develop their creative practices.”

David Bolinsky was chosen because his work represents this bridge between the disciplines like no other. As an artist, he has created a new way of interpreting and expressing cell biology. CEO and Chief Creative Officer of e.mersion studio, LLC, in Wallingford, Conn., Bolinsky has created interactive animation to advance science education. He is currently partnered with the new Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at nearby Quinnipiac University in North Haven, Conn., to craft a series of innovative interactive apps for medical students. As a grant partner/recipient with Smart Sparrow and the University of Arizona of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Education Grant, he is working on enhanced interactive online science courses for community colleges.

The relationship between Cornish and Institute for Systems Biology has been developing for some time. In 2014, Provost Moira Scott Payne was invited to speak at a symposium hosted by ISB that was focused on Systems Biology and Systems Art, which explored intersections of art, science, and systems. The Provost, along with Design Chair Jeff Brice, Interim Visual Arts Chair Dawn Gavin, and Julie Myers, program lead for interior architecture, have been great supporters of the collaborative initiative (see below for more information).

As part of his visit, Bolinsky will give a public presentation and screening of “Inner Life of the Cell” at ISB for the South Lake Union Art Walk. ISB’s office are located at 401 Terry, within easy walking distance of Cornish’s South Lake Union campus.

Inner Life of the Cell 
Screening followed by presentation  and Q&A with David Bolinsky

Thursday, October 1
6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Institute for Systems Biology,
Main Floor, 401 Terry Ave N, Seattle

Additional South Lake Union Art Walk events can be found here


Consilience Program at Institute for Systems Biology: Partnering with Cornish
by Moira Scott Payne, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs

The Consilience Program in the Communications Department at Institute for SystemsBiology (ISB) is an internal effort to bring together Science, Arts, and Humanities to further ISB's mission and reach for the purpose of engaging a wider public with systems biology and the core values of ISB.

ISB holds six basic core values: that effective systems biology requires constant attention to a very complex, very human social experiment; they cherish intellectual freedom; they value collaboration across disciplines; they have a responsibility to share what they learn; they don’t seek roadmaps, they create them; and they expect to invent the future of human health and environmental sustainability. 

The interdisciplinary, cutting-edge and social experiment that is ISB is growing beyond the confines of being interdisciplinary within technology, engineering and science. The collaborative nature of ISB extends to including Affiliate Scholars in the Arts and Humanities. We believe the inclusion of these new disciplines to the culture and energy at ISB will not only positively impact our organization internally, but will also extend our reach to a wider public. 

Cornish is now positioning its focus and engagement with the public in a way that re-imagines the role of the artist. Global issues need us to find solutions to big questions and the arts become an important part of collaborative research. 

Our creative processes naturally challenge assumption and the habits of thought. Our working processes can encompass an improvisational response. We are comfortable with ephemera, intuition and sensory and material knowledge. Our communication skills traverse disciplinary boundaries and knowledge transfer is an important part of what we can bring to highly specialized fields.

The opportunity to work with ISB brings us also the chance to participate in this deep look at what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world.

Cornish Offers Free Music at Midday

Flute quartet in front of Cornish's Kerry Hall: Leonard Garrison, Sydney Carlson, Cornish faculty member Paul Taub, and Jennifer Rhyne. The quartet plays midday October 12. Photo: courtesy of IWO Flute Quartet.

Cornish Offers Free Music at Midday

Each semester, the Music Department in Cornish College of the Arts hosts free concerts that benefit both Cornish students, and the community: The Midday Concert Series. It’s an exciting opportunity to see works-in-progress, to catch pieces while the ideas are still being developed—for many, that’s the best time to come. It’s a rare chance to experience the thrill of art as it's being created at Cornish.

The series is a collection of hour-long afternoon concerts put on by a mix of students, faculty, and guest artists. Performers have the opportunity to showcase pieces their ensembles have been working on and gain experience performing on stage in front of an audience. The free performances are open to anyone who wants to come, but Music Department Chair Tom Baker is particularly hopeful the they will open up what the department is doing to the rest of the College.

“The Midday Concerts are an excellent opportunity for music students to experience each other’s work and for building a sense of community within our department,” says Baker. “But it’s also a good chance for students from Art, Design, Film+Media, Theater, Dance, and Performance Production to hear what their peers in music are working on outside their discipline.”

All Midday Concerts are free, open to the public, and take place in Kerry Hall’s 200-seat PONCHO Concert Hall. Below is a list of the Midday Concert Series schedule for Fall Semester.

    October Dates
  • October 7, 12:30: Jazz IV – Cornish’s top jazz combo performing new and traditional works.
  • October 12 12:00 – IWO Flute Quartet - WO Flute Quartet (Sydney Carlson, Leonard Garrison, Jennifer Rhyne and Cornish faculty member Paul Taub) will perform a program that includes the Second Grand Quartet for Sixteen Flutes - The White Labyrinth by Harvey Sollberger, a piece that IWO commissioned from the National Flute Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award-winning composer, and Song and Dance by Seattle composer and Cornish adjunct faculty member Angelique Poteat. Also on the program will be two duets: Shadows IV: My Song by Robert Aitken, and Dialogo Angelico by Gofreddo Petrassi. Sollberger and Poteat will be present at the performance. The IWO Flute Quartet (named after the members' home states of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon) was formed in 2011 by four leading Pacific Northwest flutists. Its purpose is to provide excellent performances of the best repertoire for four flutes with special emphasis on new music.
  • October 15 12:30 – Cornish Creative Ensemble – An 11-piece jazz ensemble led by Tom Varner performing non-traditional works by Eric Dolphy and more.
  • October 21 12:30 – Latin Ensemble – An 8-piece ensemble led by Jovino Santos Neto performing a variety of Latin works. The ensemble features instrumentalists and vocalists.
  • October 22 12:30 – Jazz III – A jazz combo led by faculty member Randy Halberstadt featuring a variety of traditional and modern works.
  • October 28 12:00 – Chamber Ensemble – Mixed chamber ensembles performing a variety of classical and contemporary works.
  • October 29 12:30 – Improvisation I
    November Dates
  • November 4 12:30 – Chorus/Classical Guitar – A split performance between Chorus: a choir including both music students and students from around the College; and solo classical guitar works.
  • November 5 12:30 – VOX Jazz Vocalists/Vocal Jazz Standards – Vocal Jazz Students performing a variety of standard and modern tunes.
  • November 12 12:30 – Jazz I/II – Two jazz combos performing a variety hard bop and jazz standards from different eras.
  • November 18 12:30 - Piano Performance – A showcase of classical piano works from students in the studio of Peter Mack.
  • November 19 12:30 – Classical Instrumentalists/Vocalists – Classical instrumentalists and vocalists performing solo traditional and modern repertoire.
  • November 23 12:00 – Eartraining

Cornish Presents Fall Season Offers Mix of Jazz and New Music

Some Places Are Forever Afternoon. Photo: Courtesy of artist.

Cornish Presents Fall Season Offers Mix of Jazz and New Music

Tom Baker, the artistic director of the Fall 2015 Cornish Presents series, announced the addition of the local premiere of the Peace Symphony by Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, on Dec. 4. In this moving examination of the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the audience will experience a sound and visual portrait of one of the defining moments of the 20th century. Commissioned by UN Peace Boat in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing, Miller interacted with eight Hibakusha (bombing survivors) to create the Peace Symphony, combining their stories with historical footage, music, and the DJ Spooky App.

“We are very excited to welcome DJ Spooky to Cornish College of the Arts,” said Baker, interim chair of music at the college. “This composer, multimedia artist, author and thinker is a unique and important voice on art, culture and digital technology in the 21st century. His work and writing, which can bridge the liminal divide between culture, politics and technology, has had profound influence on other young artists. It is with great anticipation that we welcome DJ Spooky to Cornish Presents this December.”

The Cornish Presents season opens on Oct. 10 with the previously announced Some Places are Forever Afternoon featuring Cornish faculty member Wayne Horvitz performing his suite of 11 pieces based on the poems of Richard Hugo with members of his Gravitas Quartet and Sweeter Than The Day groups. Additional highlights of the October and November concerts are the appearance of flutist Camilla Hoitenga in a multi-media concert with composer/sound designer Jean-Baptiste Barrière on Oct. 15 and the 80th birthday celebration of trombone legend Julian Priester on Oct. 24.

Ticket prices vary by event, ranging from $16 to $34 for general admission to $5 to $15 for students or seniors. Free parking is available for the PONCHO Concert Hall events Oct. 10 through Nov. 10. The Peace Symphony will be performed at Cornish Playhouse at the Center on Dec. 4.

For additional information or to purchase tickets, visit

Cornish Presents Fall 2015 Season

Cornish Presents: Some Places are Forever Afternoon 
October 10, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Tickets: $28, $26 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $14 Students 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
“Some Places are Forever Afternoon/11 Places for Richard Hugo,” composed by Cornish Faculty member Wayne Horvitz, is a suite of 11 pieces based on the poems of Richard Hugo. Horvitz is on piano with members of his Gravitas Quartet and Sweeter Than The Day groups: Ron Miles (trumpet), Peggy Lee (cello), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), Timothy Young (guitar), Keith Lowe (bass), Eric Eagle (drums). Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: IWO Flute Quartet 
October 12, 12 to 1 p.m. 
Free and open to the public 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
IWO Flute Quartet (Sydney Carlson, Leonardrrison, Jennifer Rhyne and Cornish faculty member Paul Taub) will perform a program that includes “Second Grand Quartet for Sixteen Flutes - The White Labyrinth” by Harvey Sollberger, a piece that IWO commissioned from the National Flute Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award winning composer, and “Song and Dance” by Seattle composer and Cornish Adjunct faculty Angelique Poteat. For more info about the composers, visit and

Cornish Presents: Camilla Hoitenga and Jean-Baptiste Barrière 
October 15, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $20, $15 Seniors, $10 Students, $5 Teen Tix 
Multi-media concert by flutist Camilla Hoitenga and composer/sound designer Jean-Baptiste Barrière featuring breathtaking electronic music by Barrière and Kaija Saariaho for flute, electronics and video.

Cornish Presents: Edmar Castañeda 
October 16, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $18, $16 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students 
In a rare solo performance, the “hippest harpist” (WSJ), from Colombia, demonstrates the virtuosic command that explains his growing acclaim, the world over. He produces symphonic, rapid-fire, melodic Latin American rhythms. Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: Kris Davis Trio 
October 19, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $18, $16 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students 
The Vancouver-raised pianist, who has just won a prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award, appears with drummer Tom Rainey and bassist John Hebert, performing her darkly energetic, nuanced compositions. Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: Julian Priester, 80th Birthday Celebration 
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
October 24, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $16, $14 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $8 Students 
The trombone legend's many Seattle-area friends pay tribute to his long career, which has seen him in the company of Sun Ra, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and many more. His own quartet with pianist Dawn Clement will be on hand, as will many friends, and fellow trombonists like Stuart Dempster and David Marriott! Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: Joel M. Ross Quartet 
October 30, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $18, $16 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students 
To recast expectations of jazz vibes is no mean feat, and to do it while still a teenager is truly remarkable. In the spirit of Thelonious Monk, Chicago newcomer Joel M. Ross, a stand-out at the last two years’ Seattle Jazz Experiences, plays in with edgy, surprising, hugely likable style. He appears with similarly highly anticipated pianist James Francies as well as Jalon Archie (drums) and Ben Tiberio (bass). Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: Gamelan Pacifica 
November 1, 7 to 9 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $20, $15 Seniors, $10 Students, $5 Teen Tix 
Gamelan Pacifica is joined by four outstanding string players from the Seattle area (violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim , violinist Brittany Boulding Breeden, violist Melia Watras, and cellist Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir) in this unusual chamber music concert featuring performances by each ensemble as well as the premieres of several new works for the expanded instrumentation ofmelan and string quartet together, including new works by Seattle composers Marguerite Brown and Stephen Fandrich.

Cornish Presents: Art Lande Quartet 
November 6, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $18, $16 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students 
It’s a major Seattle jazz event: a one-off reunion of the veteran, world-traveling, singular pianist with his great Seattle post-bop band of the early 1980s, with Dean Johnson, bass; Dave Coleman, drums; and Dave Peterson, guitar. Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: Jay Clayton & Friends 
November 8, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $16, $14 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $8 Students 
Now a fixture of New York jazz, Clayton perennially topped jazz-vocals polls in Seattle while teaching a generation of singers at Cornish College of the Arts. Joining her are old friends from all around the Seattle jazz world. Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: Anat Cohen Quartet 
November 10, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts 
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102 
Tickets: $30, $28 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $15 Students 
Conversant with modern and traditional jazz, classical music, Brazilian choro, and Argentine tango, the Israeli clarinetist has established herself as a leading voice in jazz moving forward. Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival

Cornish Presents: Peace Symphony by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky Featuring Nouveau Classical Project 
December 4, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
Cornish College of the Arts Cornish 
Playhouse at Seattle Center, 201 Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98109 
Tickets: $24 to $34 
Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky) uses interviews from eight survivors of the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to weave together a sound and visual portrait of one of the most powerful moments of the 20th Century.

Music Faculty Shines in New Release

UPDATE: Seattle Weekly praises American Dreams and the Saint Helens String Quartet (and faculty member Wayne Horvitz). The American Dreams CD Release Party takes place September 17, 6:30 p.m. at Steve Jensen Gallery.

Several members of the music faculty, past and present, are found on a new release on Navona Records, American Dreams, by Seattle's Saint Helens String Quartet. Paige Stockley, who teachers her instrument at Cornish, plays cello in the quartet, which also includes violinists Stephen Bryant and Adrianna Hulscher, along with violist Michael Lieberman. Among the compositions on the recording is a piece by Professor Janice Giteck, Where Can One Live Safely, Then? In Surrender and one by former faculty member Bern Herbolsheimer, Botanas. The album received a good review from KING FM's "Second Inversions."

"The album explores a sonic vision of American culture presented by four contemporary composers," writes Morgan MacLeod of Navona Records "Grammy Award-winning composer Peter Schickel, Kenneth Benshoof, Bern Herbolsheimer, and Janice Giteck — offering an intersection of classical, popular, and folk music."

The public can hear the Saint Helens String Quartet play selections from the release the week of September 13 at several locations.  

  • September 16 at Jack Straw Cultural Center, 4261 Roosevelt Way, 7 pm, performance, plus Q and A with the performers and composers
  • September 17 at Steve Jensen Gallery Seattle, 1424 10th Ave 6:30 pm, $10 admission includes performance, open bar and apps
  • September 20 at Second Sunday in Snohomish 5 pm, 230 Ave B, Snohomish, wine tasting before the show
Additionally, Design faculty member Robynne Raye's design firm, Modern Dog, shares credit for the design of the CD.

Commons Comes to Life as Students Arrive

​The Cornish Commons, the new live-study-create residence hall developed for Cornish College of the Arts, had been winning applause since hardhat tours began earlier this spring, but real appreciation came from students and parents as they arrived in the long awaited rooms. On September 2, as the flood of students arrived with their families, a team of Cornish "movers" sprang into action. Housing & Residential Life staff, Cornish trustees, Vice-President of Enrollment Jonathan Lindsay, the Admission team, and many friends of Cornish helped unload cars and fill the rolling bins destined for residence rooms. Everyone wanted to make the transition into the new space as smooth as possible. The surprise and delight was palpable as the Commons came to life.

The move-in peaked, naturally, as students poured onto the top floor, the 20th, and discovered the massive views of Seattle and such amenities as the lounge, outdoor lounge, student art studio, music practice rooms, a laundry that texts them when their wash is done, and a workout room outfitted with a barre and mirror for dancers as well as the usual training equipment. Each window of the Commons reveals how the campus is immersed in the heart of the country’s fastest growing high tech neighborhood. The west-facing workout room overlooks new additions to the Amazon campus while north views from the lounges frame such iconic images as Seattle’s famed Space Needle. A late evening costume party was certainly enhanced by night views of city lights. One RA mentioned that on very clear nights, stars can be seen looking up through the ceiling cutaway in the outdoor space.

The tower officially opened a week before on August 27 with Cornish president Nancy Uscher and Capstone Development Partners principal Bruce McKee cutting the Cornish-red ribbon. More than 100 dignitaries including community leaders, distinguished alumni, building partners, and supporters then ascended to the 20th floor student lounge to raise a toast in celebration of the successful completion of the project on time and on budget. 

McKee returned the next week to help move students into the building, unloading cars with everyone else. President Uscher mingled with students and staff in the first floor "living room" outside Student Life offices, helping freshmen sort out their orientation packets and greeting returning students.She stayed for dinner with the students and later popped into the evening parties to make sure everyone was having a great time in their new home.

Partners Make Project A Success

​The 20-story building located at the corner of Terry Ave. and Lenora St. marks the first “ground up” project since 1921 since Nellie Cornish built Kerry Hall on Capitol Hill. Like that earlier project, many partnerships helped create a project that finished on time and on budget, as President Uscher noted in her remarks on August 27, a "phenomenal spirit of collaboration that has permeated every aspect of this venture" from design to groundbreaking in March 2014 to final completion.

​The project was developed by Capstone Development Partners (Capstone) with Ankrom Moisan Architects and Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company, was the design builder. City University of Seattle also reserved four floors of residence rooms at Cornish Commons. Other Cornish Commons partners included Cochran, Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Holaday Parks, Inc., and Raymond-Northwest LLC.

Cornish Well Represented In Gregory Awards Nominations

Kirsten deLohr Helland, William A. Williams TH '04 (center), and Justin Huertas in Lizard Boy at Seattle Repertory Theatre. . Photo: Alabastro Photography, courtesy of SRT..

Cornish Well Represented In Gregory Awards Nominations

Earlier this month, Theatre Puget Sound has announced the nominees for the 2015 Gregory Awards*, honoring outstanding achievement in theater in the Pacific Northwest in the 2014-2015 season. Alumni and faculty in the Theater and Performance Production departments were – as is often the case – well represented among the nominees. Below are the members of the Cornish community nominated for this year’s Gregory awards. ​The winners will be announced on October 26. ​


Blood Countess by Kelleen Conway Blanchard TH ‘96, Annex Theatre
Christmastown: A Holiday Noir by Wayne Rawley TH ‘93, Seattle Public Theater 


Conner Nedderson TH ‘10, Mary's Wedding, New Century Theatre Company


Emily Chisholm TH '04, The Flick, New Century Theatre Company
Hannah Mootz TH '11, Slowgirl, Seattle Public Theater
Amy Thone (faculty), Our Town, Strawberry Theatre Workshop


Timothy McCuen Piggee (faculty), Angels In America, Intiman Theatre


William A. Williams TH '04, Lizard Boy, Seattle Repertory Theatre


Nicole Beerman TH '02, Cabaret, Village Theatre


Greg Carter (faculty), Our Town, Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Desdemona Chiang (faculty), Measure For Measure, Seattle Shakespeare Company


Matthew Smucker (faculty), The Invisible Hand, ACT - A Contemporary Theatre


Melanie Taylor Burgess (faculty), Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, ACT - A Contemporary Theatre


Brendan Patrick Hogan (faculty), The Invisible Hand, ACT - A Contemporary Theatre

Announeced on September 22:

People's Choice Nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actor in  a Musical

Quinn Armstrong TH '12 for Cabaret at the Village Theatre

​* The awards are named after Gregory A. Falls, the founding artistic director of Seattle'sACT - A Contemporary Theatre.

President Uscher’s Remarks On Opening Of Cornish Commons

My dear friends: Today we are making history.  The new Cornish Commons is the first ground up building at Cornish since Kerry Hall was built in 1921.  When Nellie Cornish opened up her piano studio in 1914, six years before women had the right to vote in the United States, she had an audacious dream to invent a new kind of school, one that would link the arts to the best thinking about education and innovation. She was a maverick and had tremendous impact on her students and the communities of her time – in Seattle, in the country and even across the Atlantic Ocean – which in her era was a world away.

The meaning of today flows  beautifully from Nellie’s dreams.  Now we have Cornish’s long-term solution to student housing.  We are further anchoring our campus in the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union. We are creating the capacity for growth of our student body and growth in our innovative academic programs. Perhaps most exciting of all is that we’re deeply committed to providing a bold, distinguished and inspiring 21st century education for artists. This impressive and elegant live/learn center will be a fundamental part of student success and the holistic student experience at Cornish. This breath-taking building will serve to encourage our students and our community to think about the grand opportunities in store for them as their lives unfold.

As we mark this historic moment of Cornish’s second century, I want to recognize our partners in this remarkable endeavor.  I also want to acknowledge the phenomenal spirit of collaboration that has permeated every aspect of this venture. Capstone Development Partners, headed by Bruce McKee.  Ankrom Moisan Architects, with the lead architect Jason Jones. And the fabulous team at Howard S. Wright, our construction partner.  Jon Bunnell, our owner’s representative on the project.  I also want to thank the many subcontractors who contributed to this brilliant effort.  

City University of Seattle and National University, you have been with us every step of the way. Welcome to your new Residence Hall!

Please join me in giving a round of applause for the incredible work that these fine colleagues have undertaken and for the collaborative ethos that has carried us through the process of creating thisamazing building!  

Before we actually cut the ribbon, I want to introduce you to the Chair of the Cornish Board of Trustees, Linda Brown, who will also recognize many in our own Cornish community who played such important roles in this incredible effort and glorious project. Thank you very much.

Taub Takes on National Post, New Project

Paul Taub at recent performance at Cornish. Photo: Mark Bocek.

Taub Takes on National Post, New Project

​ Music professor and flutist Paul Taub has been elected to a two-year term on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the National Flute Association (NFA), as assistant secretary for one year and secretary for the next. His term begins on November 1. Previously, Professor Taub had served as chair of the New Music Advisory Committee for five years and as an at-large member of the board for three years.

​ “I’m looking forward to my new 'job,'" said Taub, “and to the upcoming two years with NFA.”

​ The NFA is the largest instrumental association in the world. With over 6000 members from dozens of countries and a full-time staff of five professionals based in Chicago, the association hosts an annual convention that attracts thousands of members, publish the Flutist Quarterly, the leading international periodical for flute professionals and amateurs. Taub serves on the Editorial Board.

​ The association has commissioned more than 80 new works including pieces by composers Toshio Hosokawa, Shulamit Ran, Anne LaBerge, Giya Kancheli, Robert Aitken, Martin Bresnick, Mario Davidovsky and many more including several current and former colleagues of Professor Taub’s at Cornish: Bun-Ching Lam, Wayne Horvitz and Paul Dresher.

​ Professor Taub has also embarked on a new project, New Works for Flute + Ensemble. He is commissioning five composers — four with direct Cornish connections — to be premiered at the Chapel Performance Space on November 20, 2015. The composers are Tom Baker (Chair, Department of Music); Andy Clausen (a Roosevelt High and Juilliard Jazz Program grad); David Dossett (Cornish class of of 2013); Jessika Kenney (Cornish alum and Adjunct Professor); and Angelique Poteat (Adjunct Professor). He has initiated an Indigogo campaign to help raise funds for the project.

​ “I have chosen these composers because of the quality of their work,” says Taub, “each composer has a truly unique sound and style that really speaks to me and to a wide audience.”

​ Joining Taub onstage to perform the works will be Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Walter Gray, cello; Joe Kaufman, contrabass; Cristina Valdes, piano; and Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion.

"It’s a dream to be able to look forward to rehearsing and performing with five of my closest colleagues."

Cornish Announces Fall Events

Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Photo: Mark Bocek.

Cornish Announces Fall Events

Since opening in 1914, the Cornish College of the Arts has introduced Seattle audiences to iconic visiting artists as well as the stars of tomorrow in music, theater, and dance. Art exhibitions are free and theater/music/dance performances range from $5 to $30 per ticket. With a campus and performances spaces that stretch from Capitol Hill to Seattle Center, Cornish continues to provide almost weekly entertainment during fall and spring semesters to its three neighborhoods. Additional performances will take place at 12th Avenue Arts and Velocity Dance Center.

Raisbeck Hall & Main Campus, South Lake Union
Cornish’s main campus is located at South Lake Union. The Art, Design, Film+Media Department, the Theater Department, and the Performance Production Department offices are located on this campus. Art exhibitions in the fall take place in the Main Campus Center’s multiple galleries at 1000 Lenora Street. Raisbeck Hall’s Ned & Kayla Skinner Theater serves as an intimate black box setting for theater and music shows at 2015 Boren Ave.

PONCHO Concert Hall, Capitol Hill
The Capitol Hill landmark PONCHO Concert Hall is used for visiting artists as well as student performances. The hall was built into the Cornish School building, now Kerry Hall, where dancer Martha Graham, composer John Cage, and Northwest painter Mark Tobey all instructed students. The vintage 1920 building continues to serve today as the home of the Music and Dance departments.

Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, Alhadeff Studio Theater
In addition, Cornish operates the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair and former home of the Seattle Rep and Intiman Theatre. Today the Cornish Playhouse and the Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff Studio Theater (formerly known as the Cornish Playhouse Studio), 201 Mercer St., are used for theater, dance, and music student productions as well as serving nearly 40 nonprofits annually.

Tickets for Cornish events are sold through Brown Paper Tickets.


2015 Neddy Artist Awards 2015
September 9 through October 24
Tickets: free and open to the public
Cornish College of the Arts
Open Project Space/Main Gallery
Main Campus Center, 1000 Lenora St., Seattle 98121
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. All the finalists for 2015 will be on display. This year’s finalists in painting are Matt Browning, Paul Komada, Elise Richman and Robert Yoder. The 2015 finalists for open medium are Leo Saul Berk, Wynne Greenwood, Mark Mitchell and Rodrigo Valenzuela.

Remembering Ned Behnke
September 9 through October 24
Tickets: Free and open to the public
Cornish College of the Arts
Open Project Space/Main Gallery
Main Campus Center, 1000 Lenora St., Seattle 98121
A selection of key paintings, in Behnke’s signature style, along with photographs of the artist, highlights his roles as painter, teacher, and artist-peer. This exhibition, curated by Neddy Artist Awards Director Robin Held, offers a glimpse into the life and practice of the artist who inspired the Neddy Artist Awards.

Sidra Bell Dance Residency Lecture-Demonstration
October 9, 12:00 –1:00 p.m.
Tickets: free and open to the public
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
Visiting choreographer Sidra Bell and Cornish students present a lecture-demonstration of an original work in progress.

Cornish Presents: Some Places are Forever Afternoon
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival.
October 10, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $28 General, $26 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $14 Students
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
Some Places are Forever Afternoon/11 Places for Richard Hugo, composed by Cornish Faculty member Wayne Horvitz, is a suite of eleven pieces based on the poems of Richard Hugo. Horvitz is on piano with members of his Gravitas Quartet and Sweeter Than The Day groups: Ron Miles (trumpet), Peggy Lee (cello), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), Timothy Young (guitar), Keith Lowe (bass), and Eric Eagle (drums). 

Cornish Presents:  IWO Flute Quartet
October 12, 12:00 –1:00 p.m.
Tickets: free and open to the public
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
IWO Flute Quartet (Sydney Carlson, Leonard Garrison, Jennifer Rhyne and Cornish faculty member Paul Taub) will perform a program that includes Second Grand Quartet for Sixteen Flutes - The White Labyrinth by Harvey Sollberger, a piece that IWO commissioned from the National Flute Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award winning composer, and Song and Dance by Seattle composer and Cornish faculty member Angelique Poteat.

Cornish Presents:  Camilla Hoitenga and Jean-Baptiste Barrière
October 15, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $20 General, $ 15 Seniors, $10 Students, $5 Teen Tix
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
Multi-media concert by flutist Camilla Hoitenga and composer/sound designer Jean-Baptiste Barrière featuring breathtaking electronic music by Barrière and Kaija Saariaho for flute, electronics and video.

Cornish Presents: Edmar Castañeda
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
October 16, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $16 General, $18 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
In a rare solo performance, the “hippest harpist” (WSJ) demonstrates the virtuosic command that explains his growing acclaim the world over. From Colombia, Castañeda produces symphonic, rapid-fire, melodic Latin American rhythms.

Cornish Presents:  Kris Davis Trio
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
October 19, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $18 General, $ 16 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
The Vancouver-raised pianist, who has just won a prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award, appears with drummer Tom Rainey and bassist John Hebert, performing her darkly energetic, nuanced compositions.

Cornish Presents: Julian Priester, 80th Birthday Celebration
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
October 24,8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
Tickets: TBD
The trombone legend's many Seattle-area friends pay tribute to his long career, which has seen him in the company of Sun Ra, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and many more. His own quartet with pianist Dawn Clement will be on hand, as will many friends, and fellow trombonists like Stuart Dempster and David Marriott!

Cornish Presents: Joel Ross Quartet
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
October 30, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $16 General, $14 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $8 Students Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
To recast expectations of jazz vibes is no mean feat, and to do it while still a teenager is truly remarkable. In the spirit of Thelonious Monk, Chicago newcomer Joel M. Ross, a stand-out at the last two years’ Seattle Jazz Experiences, plays in with edgy, surprising, hugely likable style. He appears with similarly highly anticipated pianist James Francies as well as Jalon Archie (drums) and Ben Tiberio (bass).

Cornish Presents:  Gamelan Pacifica: Music for Gamelan and String Quartet
November 1, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Tickets: $20 General, $15 Seniors, $10 Students, $5 Teen Tix
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
Gamelan Pacifica is joined by four outstanding string players from the Seattle area (violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim , violinist Brittany Boulding Breeden, violist Melia Watras,  and cellist Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir) in this unusual chamber music concert featuring performances by each ensemble as well as the premieres of several new works for the expanded instrumentation of gamelan and string quartet together, including new works by Seattle composers Marguerite Brown and Stephen Fandrich.

Cornish Presents:  Art Lande Quartet
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
November 6, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $18 General, $16 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
It’s a major Seattle jazz event: a one-off reunion of the veteran, world-traveling, singular pianist with his great Seattle post-bop band of the early 1980s, with Dean Johnson, bass;Dave Coleman, drums; and Dave Peterson, guitar.

Cornish Presents: Jay Clayton & Friends
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
November 8, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $18 General, $16 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $9 Students
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle 98102
Now a fixture of New York jazz, Clayton perennially topped jazz-vocals polls in Seattle while teaching a generation of singers at Cornish College of the Arts. Joining her are old friends from all around the Seattle jazz world.        

Cornish Presents:  Anat Cohen Quartet
Co-presented with Earshot Jazz Festival
November 10, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $30 General, $28 Seniors and Earshot Jazz Members, $15 Students
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle  98102
Conversant with modern and traditional jazz, classical music, Brazilian choro, and Argentine tango, the Israeli clarinetist has established herself as a leading voice in jazz moving forward.

Cornish Presents: Peace Symphony by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky Featuring Nouveau Classical Project
December 4, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center,
201 Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98109
Tickets: TBD
Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky) uses interviews from eight survivors of the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to weave together a sound and visual portrait of one of the most powerful moments of the 20th Century.


The Next Century Gala
November 13, 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Tickets: $300 per person
The Four Seasons Hotel
Cornish College of the Arts closes its Centennial Celebration year with The Next Century Gala, celebrating 100 years of Cornish informing the cultural vitality of the region. Proceeds benefit The Cornish Scholarship Fund.


Hutch Exhibition 2015: Selected work, Cornish Art Alumni
September 11, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. – through May 2016
Tickets: free and open to the public
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Robert M. Arnold Building - Atrium
1100 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle 98109
The long-running exhibition partnering Cornish with Fred Hutchinson opens with a reception on Friday, September 11, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Exhibited alumni artists include Fatima Al Khuzaei, Debra Betz, Shyla Carter-Braxtan, Kristen Cheely, Brigitte d'Autremont, Emily Epperson, Savannah Filson, Simon Gifford, Kristian Gursli, Pralhad Gurung, Bristol Hayward-Hughes, Jason Hess, Jade Highleyman, Kaylee Jacobson, Jenny Jun, Amy Kim, Michael King, Annieo Klaas, Lauren Koo, Ryan Lofftus, Lauren Macdonald, Zoe Maddalena, Sean McNally, Sonya Metcalfe, David Nelson, Mariah Nystrom, Carlene Page, Caitlin Ramos, Ashleigh Robb, Chelsea Rodino, Shayne Ryan, Madisen Schorno, Marissa Sohn, Alaina Stocker, Makenzie Stone, Aiko Szymczak, Justin Tager, Alyssa Tanner, Amelia Traut, Toby Warren, and Megan Wyma.


Mid-Day Music and Evening Recitals
Cornish College of the Arts
PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall
710 E. Roy St, Seattle  98102
Throughout the fall semester, Cornish's music faculty and students present Mid-Day Music and evening Recitals. All performances in this series are free and the public is welcome to attend. Please check the student events calendar for the current line-up.

Kittens In A Cage
By Kelleen Conway Blanchard (Local playwright and Cornish Theater alumna 1996)
Produced by Cornish Theater and Performance Production departments
Directed by Keira McDonald
October 22 – 24 & 29 – 31, 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $17 General Admission, $7 Senior Citizens, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
Cornish College of the Arts
Skinner Theater, Raisbeck Performance Hall
2015 Boren Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
Kittens in a Cage tells Junie’s story, a good girl gone bad, sent to the pen by a buncha rats. From the knife fights in the showers to riots in the prison mess hall, ukulele-toting Junie has to toughen up fast. Lucky for Junie, she’s got Vickie. A tough-love story about bad broads that can’t get no breaks.

Based on the Mowgli stories of Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Edward Mast (local playwright)
Produced by Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department
Directed by Rhonda J. Soikowski
October 28 – 31, 8:00 p.m., October 31 & November 1, 2:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12 General, $7 Seniors, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
Alhadeff Studio, Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
201 Mercer Street, Seattle 98109
Set on a jungle gym instead of the jungle of India, this adaptation of the Jungle Book stories breathes new life in the classic tale of the boy raised by wolves. Will Mowgli honor the code of the jungle creatures who raised him, or turn to the ways of man, leaving the jungle forever?

Based on Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, Adapted by Octavio Solis
Produced by Cornish Theater and Performance Production departments
Co-directed by Sheila Daniels and Richard E.T. White
November 6 – 7 & 12 – 13, 8:00 p.m., November 8, 2:00 & 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $17 General, $7 Senior Citizens, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
201 Mercer Street, Seattle 98109
SEATTLE PREMIERE! Leading contemporary playwright Octavio Solis (El Paso Blue) brings his unique voice to the classic tale of the power of dreams to influence reality in this fresh and vibrant retelling of Don Quixote. An ensemble cast uses poetic language, song, dance, sword-fighting, and dynamic transformation to bring the denizens of Quixote’s Spain, both human and animal, to raw, vivid life on the Cornish Playhouse stage.

Blown Youth
By Dipika Guha
Produced by Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department
Directed by Caitlin Sullivan
November 12 – 14 & 19 – 21, 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12 General, $7 Senior Citizens, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
Alhadeff Studio, Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
201 Mercer Street, Seattle 98109
SEATTLE PREMIERE! All Celia wants is to play a great role. But unlike Hamlet, there isn't one for her to inherit. Despite her sophisticated education and commitment to helping other women, somehow Celia — like her counterpart — cannot act. Inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet, Blown Youth asks what happens to the universe when a woman is at its center.

By Naomi Iizuka
Produced by Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department
Directed by Desdemona Chiang
November 18 – 21, 8:00 p.m., November 21, 2:00 p.m., November 22, 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12 General, $7 Senior Citizens, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
Skinner Theatre, Raisbeck Performance Hall
2015 Boren Ave, Seattle 98121
Separated from his mother, a young refugee called Anon journeys through the United States, encountering a wide variety of people — some kind, some dangerous and cruel — as he searches for his family. From a sinister one-eyed butcher to beguiling barflies to a sweatshop, Anon must navigate through a chaotic, ever-changing landscape in this entrancing adaptation of Homer's Odyssey.

Cornish Dance Theater Fall 2015 Concert
Cornish College of the Arts Dance Department
November 20, 8:00 p.m., November 21, 2:00 & 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12 General Admission, $7 Senior Citizens, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
201 Mercer Street, Seattle 98109
The Fall 2015 concert features choreography by faculty and guest choreographers Sidra Bell, Dayna Hanson, Pat Hon, Veronica Lee-Baik, and Paula Peters. This concert is presented with support from the Bossak Heibron Charitable Foundation.

New Moves Concert
Cornish College of the Arts Dance Department
December 4, 8:00 p.m., December 5, 2:00 & 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12 General Admission, $7 Senior Citizens, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
Velocity Dance Center
1621 12th Avenue, Seattle 98112
The New Moves Concert 2015 features choreography by Cornish students performed by their peers.

Wild Kate: A Tale of Revenge at Sea
By Karen Hartman (local playwright)
Produced by Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department
Directed by Annie Lareau
December 9 – 12, 8:00 p.m., December 12, 2:00 p.m., December 13, 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12 General Admission, $7 Senior Citizens, $5 Cornish Community and Teen Tix
12th Ave Arts Black Box
1620 12th Ave, Seattle 98102
SEATTLE PREMIERE! “Call me Isabel.” A brainy teen with a chip on her shoulder seeks adventure and escape when she enrolls in High School on the High Seas. But soon Isabel, her new pal Quinn, and a rag-tag collection of classmates and crew find themselves swept off course in an extracurricular payback mission led by the boat's strange and formidable captain, Wild Kate. In this contemporary adventure inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick and the Deepwater Oil Rig disaster, these young sailors are forced to consider whether saving the ocean is worth risking their lives.

Golden, A Cabaret
Produced by Cornish College of the Arts Theater Department
Conceived and Directed by Frances King and Timothy McCuen Piggee
Music Direction by Katherine Strohmaier
December 16 – 18,  8:00 p.m.
Tickets: free
Skinner Theatre, Raisbeck Performance Hall
2015 Boren Ave, Seattle 98121
The themes of thankfulness and gratitude are explored in a cabaret revue, featuring songs by Katy Perry, Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Blossom Dearie, Stevie Wonder, and others.

Dr. Uscher Discusses Cornish’s Many New Projects

Dr. Nancy Uscher. Photo: Winnie Westergard.

Dr. Uscher Discusses Cornish’s Many New Projects

Cornish College of the Arts has raised its national and international profile significantly in recent years. President Nancy Uscher recently discussed how changes in Cornish’s program help prepare students for a professional practice that is both practical today and flexible to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“Many of our students go right into jobs,” said Dr. Uscher during an interview with KING-FM's Marta Zekan. “In all of our disciplines, we have seen great examples of success right away. But, at the end of the day, these students will be inventing their own lives.”

At the start of her fifth academic year at Cornish, Dr. Uscher has seen the reputation and visibility of Cornish increase. Part of the reason, she said, is the willingness of all parties to constantly review how the visual and performing arts are taught. “We’ve asked what will the students need in 2020, 2025, and beyond,” she said.

Listen to President Dr. Nancy Uscher's interview with KING-FM's Marta Zekan:

The campus of Cornish also has expanded under Dr. Uscher’s tenure, including the addition of a 20-story Cornish Commons opening August 27 and the leasing of the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. “Our trustees were visionary about the opportunity to bring the college to the Denny Triangle,” said Dr. Uscher. “We love our Kerry Hall (on Capitol Hill) and we’ve done some great renovations this summer there. And our new Cornish Commons is going to be a great live-learn center. I plan to stay there the first night!"

Dr. Uscher also will be a panelist at the Downtown Seattle Association’s meeting, “A Fresh Take on the Seattle Arts Scene,” on September 11. The gathering focuses on the state of local arts institutions and how they are positioning for long-term success during changing and challenging times.

Robynne Raye Exibits Posters in China

Cornish faculty member Robynne Raye had three posters exhibited this past May in China at the Guanshanyue Art Museum's first annual Shenzhen International Poster Festival. Shenzhen is a city of 15 million just north of Hong Kong. Raye, a well known poster designer and an adjunct instructor in the Design Department, was one of 100 designers from all over the world to receive an invitation.

Raye has taught typography, poster design, and packaging design at Cornish for 15 years, and she has lectured and taught workshops around for the world. Her posters are in the permanent collections of museums all over the world. Every year, her packaging class displays their work in a highly anticipated exhibition, This Side Up.

Co-founder of popular and highly respected Seattle design firm Modern Dog Design, Robynne Raye is involved in a number of wide-ranging projects. Her work was seen this year at the ground-breaking Cuba-America poster exhibition as part of Happy Together (Felices Juntos), "a project that proposes Exchange between Cuban and U.S. designers." This coming October, she will be one of three design judges at the annual American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) conference in New Orleans. “This live design competition allows seven up-and-coming designers to face off head-to-head for the chance to break into the industry in front of 2,000 peers, heroes, and potential employers,” writes AIGA. “Command X is open to any recent student with a four-year college degree, an AIGA member in good standing and is 26 years old or younger.” ​

Accelerated Master of Arts In Teaching Offered to Cornish Students

​Cornish students who envisage a career as teachers of pre-school to 12th-grade art and design now have a clear and easy path thanks to a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) offered through Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). This five-year, dual-degree program allows visual arts students to finish their Cornish BFA on a normal schedule. Completion of MAT requirements requires a summer in residency in Vermont between their junior and senior year and a second summer residency after graduation, but the bulk of the work can be performed in the locations of their choosing.

"We are delighted to announce this program in partnership with Vermont College of Fine Arts," says Cornish Provost Moira Scott Payne. "It is important to us that we build opportunities for our students with colleges that embody the values that we hold dear here in Cornish. Just as we do, VCFA believes in innovation built on a deep respect for the combination of practice and theory, with a student-centered approach that recognizes the real life needs and contexts of the individual."

 The Vermont College of Fine Arts has designed a program that efficiently moves students toward their goals. “Our partnership allows students to complete their BFA, MAT, and acquire teaching licensure in five years,” writes Jay Ericson. “This unique summer-residency program offers an innovative curriculum that will prepare students to be successful, confident teachers with a focus on contemporary artistic practice, in high demand for hiring.”

Unique in its mission as a graduate-only college, the fully accredited Vermont College of Fine Arts was established in 2008. The college is, however, the descendent of an educational tradition going back to 1834, when it was founded as Newbury Seminary. Its present campus in picturesque Montpelier, Vermont, was established in 1868. Montpelier is the smallest state capitol in the country, with a population of just under 8,000. Also diminutive is the college itself, with a total population of 360 graduate students. Many of its programs predate the formal establishment of VCFA; they include MFAs in writing, writing and publishing, visual art, graphic design, and music composition.

VCFA describes the program in these terms: “Undergraduate art, design and media majors who are creative thinkers and skilled problem solvers are ideal candidates for this unique low-residency opportunity. Junior year students in good academic standing are eligible to apply for this dual degree option. Students enroll and participate in their first VCFA MAT summer residency—which focuses on pedagogy, theory and hands-on materials workshops –– between their junior and senior years. They complete their fieldwork/observation cycle and pre-thesis work in Seattle while completing their undergraduate degree.

“MAT students return to VCFA for their second summer residency, after they have earned their BA or BFA degree. The second summer residency provides an immersion in teaching methodology and hands-on, real-time teaching practice. Students collaborate on designing curricula, presenting, building and assessing their curricular units in pre-practicum environments working with elementary, middle and secondary school students, with direct support from program faculty. The student teaching practicum and completion of the capstone-thesis take place at the student’s chosen location during the second fall/winter/spring semester. This could be in Seattle, anywhere in the country, or anywhere in the world.”

Williams Win Caps Banner Year for Interior Architecture

​Design senior Alexa Williams '16, entering her senior year in Interior Architecture, has won a prestigious Donguia Scholarship with a prize of $30,000. Williams, an international student born and raised in Vancouver, BC, won with [helth], a design for the interior of a wellness clinic located in Seattle’s Westlake corridor. William’s concept statement ties her designs to natural forms: “Nature is the fundamental building block of our health care. Everything stems from something that nature has provided and the beauty of this is the simplicity of complex structure.” The scholarships are awarded each year in memory of internationally famous designer Angelo Donguia.

​ “I am very honored to be the recipient of the Donghia Scholarship award and thankful for all of those who made it possible," Williams says. "I am humbled by the recognition of my work and for the acknowledgment Cornish truly deserves.”

​Williams, who attended high school at Blanche McDonald in Vancouver, chose Cornish for a variety of reasons. “In the fall of 2011 I started looking at interior design programs in the Northwest,” she says. “When I came across the program at Cornish, my mother and aunt, who are designers, were impressed with the structure of the program and the faculty. I just knew that the school would be a great fit.

​“The first time that I visited the campus, I was so inspired and excited to have the chance to be involved in such a creative and talented environment. Cornish is so unique in every way which made my decision to apply an obvious choice. “

​Alexa Williams is the latest victory for students in Interior Architecture, a Design Department pathway. At the annual meeting of IIDA Northwest Chapter (International Interior Design Association) this past year Cornish students once again walked away with top prizes. Wanting Zhou '15 won 1st Place for Seniors Category "Best Portfolio" and Julie Rose '16 for 1st Place for Juniors Category "Best Portfolio." Interior Architecture head Julie Myers said, “Cornish exhibited well and had tremendous leadership and impact to our design community.”

Julie ​Myers was also a winner at IIDA as part of Greenpoint Technologies in the category of “Best Concept Design.” Myers is lead designer on a high-end design team working on custom interiors for 747 aircraft. Myers’ other awards include American Society of Interior Design Washington State Chapter Educator of the Year Award 2012, American Society of Interior Design Award of Excellence, SAIC Marya Lilien Foundation Award, & the Allsteel Manufacturer Award. She is the 2014 IDEC Host for the Pacific West Regional Conference held at Cornish; Recent speaking engagements include Digital Objects in Motion and Designing for Flight with Constance Adams and Cameron Campbell at the 2014 Seattle Design Festival.

We Must Do What We Say We Will Do

The Buzz: Intentionality. Photo: Courtesy of Capstone On-Campus Management.

We Must Do What We Say We Will Do

​Dr. Nancy Uscher became the president of Cornish College of the Arts in 2011. She is the first woman to hold that position since Nellie Cornish, who founded the school in 1914, and is frequently asked to speak on the role of women in higher education leadership as well as the general trends of education in the arts.

Capstone On-Campus Management recently asked five thought leaders to provide their throughts and stories on a single topic: Intentionality. Here's how President Uscher responded:

Intentionality is an honorable word and has never been more important in higher education with the alignment of values and strategic vision to practice. As president of Cornish College of the Arts, I am often guided by the straight-forward words: 'We must do what we say we will do.' The best institutions are committed to and focused on aspirations that build the college or university of the future. Each institution is clearly distinguished from others based on its special and singular qualities, opportunities and character. Moving forward to capture the exciting possibilities for the next era happens through hard work, deep intergrity, and, indeed, intentionality.

Happy Birthday, Nellie — What Cornish Means to Me

Elena Miramova, left, and her adoptive mother Nellie Cornish, c. 1921. Photo: Grady; Miramova photographer unknown.

Happy Birthday, Nellie — What Cornish Means to Me

In 1963, the editors of Nellie Cornish's autobiography, Miss Aunt Nellie, were gathering reminiscences of her life from those who knew her and loved her. One came from Nellie's adopted daughter and Cornish alumna, Elena Miramova '25 (1901-1992). Miramova lost her parents in the Russian Revolution and emigrated to the U.S. with her brother. He died only months later, leaving her alone in a strange country. She entered the care of dramatist Sam Hume and his wife in Detroit, and she moved with them to Berkeley, California, when Hume took over the directorship of the Berkeley Greek Theatre and began teaching at the University of California. Miramova entered high school in Berkeley, and acted every chance she got at the Greek Theatre. Hume sent her to Seattle to The Cornish School to lose her Russian accent. She grew close to Nellie Cornish, and some years later, Cornish legally adopted her. It was a wonderful relationship by all accounts: Miramova wrote to Cornish warmly as "Mamoschka" and signed her notes to her "Your Baby."  Miramova went on to become a hit in London as Madame Grushinskaya in Grand Hotel, which interestingly enough was done by Cornish Theater this last season, and in New York with her own play, Dark Eyes, in 1943.

Miramova's article arrived too late, apparently, to make the publication date of the autobiography. Or it could be that Miramova's account was left out because it ran counter to Nellie's own in the book; Nellie's writes that a secretary picked up Elena from the boat and she doesn't mention the quality of her driving (a delicious "family scandal" and source of merriment for the girls living under Nellie's care). However, what is clear from the reading of both their accounts is that they instantly recognized a kindred spirit and became truly a mother and daughter.

This previously unpublished portrait of Nellie Cornish is presented here in celebration of her 139th birthday, July 9, 2015. The events described occurred in 1922.


What Cornish Means to Me

by Elena Miramova

One sunny afternoon as I was coming back from Berkeley High School and as I was passing the University of California campus, suddenly I was seized with a desire to pray. I laid down my books on the ground and with interlocked hands, I said — “Dearest, dearest God, I’d like to become the finest actress ever!” Then in a whisper — I added — “It’s a must, God! It’s a must! But I can’t do it myself. Will you help me? I waited for an answer, but none came. I gathered up my books and silently said “Amen!” and off I went.

The next day, when Sam Hume returned from Seattle, Washington, where he had been conducting a Master Class for the drama students at Cornish, and announced that I won a scholarship from that school, I was not at all surprised. Nor did I ask any questions. I didn’t have to — I knew! Besides, what was there to ask? … Wasn’t Sam the director of the Berkeley Greek Theatre and knew everything? … And wasn’t I his protégé? … And didn’t I myself have an interview with my own God? … Gee, with all these forces to intercede for me — Gosh, what else? …

Two weeks later as I walked down the gangplank onto a Seattle dock and as I was looking around to locate someone, presently I spied a bustling little woman, coming my way. As she came closer, I saw her winsome smile and her blue, blue eyes. She carried two spaniels, one under each arm. But I couldn’t make out whether she was talking to me or to her dogs. But as she came within reach, I heard her say — “Yes, that must be she …” Then raising her voice, she said, “You must be Mr. Hume’s little girl — are you, or are you?”

“Mr. Hume’s little girl,” I repeated questioningly. “Well, eh, I suppose I am, in a way. … and, eh, are you Miss Cornish?” “Or Miss Aunt Nellie,” she answered …”whichever you prefer. What is your name? Mr. Hume called you something, but I’m not fluent in Russian, although I can say, ‘Da, Nyet, Otetz, Neechevo —’ and how do you say ‘I love you’?”

Ya vas lyublu.”

“Yes, that’s right. ‘Ya vas lyublu.’ What an important sentence that is! One should know it in every language.” Watching my reaction, she said, “Am I right?”

“Oh, yes, Miss Cornish, you’re absolutely right!” I hastily reassured her. Actually, I didn’t know what she was talking about. But I was anxious to please. I liked this woman. I sensed her warmth. I felt she was an Original.

“It’s good to be of one mind,” she smiled. “Now, let’s get you out of here — let’s tend to your luggage.” She promptly passed by me and I slowly followed behind her.

There was nothing coquettish about Miss Aunt Nellie, except her walk. It was not really a walk, it was a wobble. But her particular wobble had pace — it had grace. Unfortunately, she was interrupted every few minutes, by people stopping her — by people asking questions — by people trying to make appointments with her. I realized she was a popular lady. And so it took a considerable amount of time before we at last climbed into Miss Aunt Nellie’s Hupmobile touring car and blasted off.

I gasped at her performance, and quickly closed my eyes, hung on, and prayed again. When I felt the car grind to a screeching halt — only inches from the streetcar, I opened them — I mean my eyes. And this moment Miss Cornish asked me how to pronounce my name. She seemed utterly oblivious as to what just took place. And as for pronouncing my name, I couldn’t open my lips, I was so scared. Handing something over to one of her dogs, she said to me — “Well, I asked you a question. …” Not getting a reply, she looked at me . “What’s the matter?” she inquired. “Is it my driving that’s making you nervous? If so, don’t worry. Most of the people around here know me and the keep out of my way.”

“They do?” my voice went surprisingly up into the air.

“Yes, they do,” she repeated. “It would be too bad for them, if they didn’t.”

Well, that started me off. I began to laugh. … I knew it was rude, but I couldn’t help myself. I laughed so hard I ached. And so did Miss Aunt Nellie. She laughed just as hard as I did, while swerving in and out of traffic. Suddenly I began to enjoy this. The fright left me — and instead it became to be fun — it became a game. I felt cheated when she at last pulled up in front of the school.

“Your name, please” … Miss Cornish demanded. “Quickly, let me hear you say it.” “E-L-E-N-A,” I said … but it’s pronounced like Y-E-L-E-N-A … ELENA.”

“Let’s not add anything,” Miss Aunt Nellie chuckled. “If possible, let’s subtract a few syllables. Let’s keep it simple.”

“Pronounce it any way you like,” I suggested. “It’s going to sound funny no matter which way you say it … but it’s okay with me. You make me laugh and I love it.”

“I enjoy a good laugh too” Miss Cornish admitted. “ I was once foretold that I’d laugh at my mother’s funeral, and I did.”

By this time we were inside the building and I was properly impressed. To my sorrow, I was turned over to a secretary. But before Miss Aunt Nellie took leave of me, she said — “I hear you're talented, let's see what you can do for the school!” … and bounced off. Watching her disappear left a lump in my throat. I felt burdened. What could add to this wonderful, wonderful, place. I had to blink a tear back as people were buzzing all around us.

That first night in the boarding house, my pillow was wet — and it stayed wet for several nights.

Miss Aunt Nellie, as I now called her, with her sensitive antenna, sensed my need and made up her mind to keep me busy, busy! “I want you to work hard,” she said. “You’ll have classes from early morning until evening. … But, if you find the work too strenuous, be sure to let me know.”

Almost immediately, I adjusted to the schedule … to the people … to the teachers. … and life took on a sheen. There was something contagious about the spirit of the school — something I couldn’t put my finger on; it was probably a composite of Miss Aunt Nellie’s enthusiasm, her vision, her vitality, her purpose. It’s as thought she infused us all with the creative throb. For we were alert alive!

As time went on, Miss Aunt Nellie and I became closer. I found pleasure not only in joking with her, but also in listening to her. Without preaching, she’d bring love and God and responsibility into ordinary conversation. Nothing was ever labeled — nothing was ever pointed up. Only my views, I noticed, began to change. My values shifted … and it all took place without any conscious transition. I became less preoccupied with myself. I began to search for something outside of me! …

About six months later, on a Friday afternoon, I was told that Miss Aunt Nellie wants me in her apartment. I was glad. I loved going there. Her unique personality was fully objectified in that home. It was so different. The view from her balcony of Puget Sound was unbelievable! The outlay of the rooms, the furnishings, the objets d’art … all so harmonious. One felt Miss Aunt Nellie in every nook and cranny. I promised myself that when I got married, that’s the kind of place I was going to have.

I was alone when I first got there, except for Mrs. Sinton, the housekeeper. In a little while, I heard the tiny steps of Miss Aunt Nellie. And as she entered the room, I knew at once that something disturbing was on her mind. She was silent — which was not the usual. And before she even said a word, my heart began to beat faster and faster. … Her silence grew so loud, it shrieked at me. I couldn’t stand it and at long last I said … “Okay, say it … what it it? Have I done something I oughtn’t to have?”

“No, darling,” she said softly. “It’s not you — it’s life!” She took me to her bedroom and sat me on her lap. She’d never done that before. What’s going on I wondered — who died?

After a while she went on to tell me that Sam Hume had backed a disastrous theatrical venture and lost everything he had, and now he can’t pay for my room and board any longer.

“But is he all right?” I asked anxiously.

“Yes, he’s all right,” she replied.

I then turned to Miss Aunt Nellie and said, “Well, I suppose there’s nothing more for me to do but quit school and find a job.”

“Quit school!” she exclaimed …

“You see, Miss Aunt Nellie,” I tried to explain … “I didn’t know that Sam was paying for my room and board. I thought my scholarship included everything. Had I known this before I wouldn’t have come.”

“Sam knew that … that’s why he didn’t tell you … lucky for me,” she sighed.

After a pause, I said, “I’ll come back one day. I don’t know when, but I’ll come back.” And when I looked up, I saw a great big tear gliding down her cheek. I was startled — I thought she was so strong. …

“Listen to me, Elena,” she said tenderly, “and listen carefully. I’ve always wanted a little girl of my own. And I always wanted a little girl like you. Before you make any decisions, think it over and let me know how you feel about this.”

I sat still for the longest time. We both sat still. I’ll never forget the silence in that room. We just looked at each other. After a while, before she got up, she pressed me tight to her bosom and I kissed her.

I had grown to believe that it was due to some personal failure that I had no parents. Not belonging to anyone, had for me, a connotation of guilt. It had become a cry-yourself-to-sleep sort of thing. Thus it was that when Miss Aunt Nellie adopted me — I don’t mean legally … it took years for that. … but, when I came to live with her, that was the beginning of my rebirth. The personal love that I lacked before, was replenished beyond my wildest dreams. My new mother had it in unlimited quantities to give. She not only mothered me, she mothered other students too … like Louise Soelberg, Brabazon Lindsey, Ruth Lindsey, her nephew Bill … she mothered to the whole school. She tried and did open as many doors to us as we were capable of accepting. She surrounded us with great artists — like Mark Tobey, Ellen Van Volkenburg Browne, Koiransky, Calvin Cady, Martha Graham, Adolph Bohm, Mordekai Gorelik, Madame B. Ponsey, Martha Sacket, Mary Ann Wells — the list is unending.

She didn’t believe in blind alleys. She knew that all art is inter-related and she exposed us to all of them. She tried to tune us well. If some of us failed to become Stradivarii, the lack was not in her, but in us.

Is it any wonder that one never leaves Cornish? … we merely change geographical location.

Shortly after the Second World War, my husband, Captain Byron Moore, was stationed in Reykjavik, Iceland. Mother came to stay with us. She hardly touched the ground of Reykjavik when she learned that the scenic designer of the Icelandic Opera House was a Cornish student. In no time she became Miss Aunt Nellie of Reykjavik. The same thing happened in Denmark … in Sweden … in Paris … in London. … wherever we went we ran into some Cornish-ite.

And that’s because we’re so tightly cemented with the glue of mother’s life!

I am part of that glue … thus part of Cornish.

“What Cornish Means to Me” and many, many other important papers and images from the history of Cornish are held for safekeeping in Special Collections, University of Washington Library.

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. 


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, 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, 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, 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 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

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
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
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 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

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.


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.

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

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, 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.