Seattle International Dance Festival Returns To Cornish

Aura Dance Theatre. Photo: Trine Sirnes, provided by SIDF.

Seattle International Dance Festival Returns To Cornish

The Seattle International Dance Festival (SIDF) returns to Cornish on June 10 with two weekends of the INTER|NATIONAL ARTISTS SERIES at Raisbeck Hall as well as other events nearby.  Highlights of this series include the next generation of the famed Baryshnikov family performing in the Doppelgänger Dance Collective. Also joining them on stage are former Spectrum Dancers Shadou Mintrone and Derek Crescenti, Blind Tiger Society  from San Francisco, and T42, a company from Switzerland and Japan. During the second weekend at Raisbeck, Lithuania’s Aura Dance Theatre are joined by Cornish faculty member Deborah Wolf presenting a new work, LED: Lauren Edson Dance, and J. M. P. Dance Company. 

The "Spotlight Series" at Raisbeck on June 14 and 16 will allow audiences to see what artists are working on now. Curated by Cyrus Khambatta, Wolf, and Marlo Martin, the June 14 session “Spotlight on Seattle Now” will include  works by Liz Houlton, Jeremy Cline/Blair Elliot, Anna Conner, and Lauren Linder/Adriana Hernandez. The June 16 session, “Spotlight: Artist’s Perspective,” addresses specific themes important to the Seattle-based creators. Curated by Erin Boyt, Khambatta and Constanze Villines,these session includes works by Elby Brosch, Peter DeGrasse, Stephanie Liapis, Kaitlin McCarthy, Ethan Rome and Constanze Villines/re:flexion Dance.

Other highlights include "Spotlight on Contemporary Ballet" at Broadway Performance Hall on June 21 and 22 which includes a featured commission by Jason Ohlberg set on Coriolis Dance, Israel’s Dafi Dance Group at Broadway Performance Hall on June 25, and the closing weekend event with two world premieres by Seattle’s Khambatta Dance Company and local dance icon and Cornish faculty member Wade Madsen.

Tickets to all evening performances are $22 in advance, $27 at the door (Students are $18 in advance, $22 at the door). A 2-Show pass is $38, the All Festival Pass (9 shows) is $64 and the Premium Pass ($85, includes entrance to the closing night VIP party.) All details, including performance times, locations and ticketing information are available at

Cornish College of the Arts is proud to be a sponsor of this event and support the efforts of the Khambatta Dance Company to enrich the local community through the availability and diversity of high caliber contemporary dance.

Cornish Challenged To Meet $35,000 Match For Visiting Artists

Alumni and Cornish supporters are spreading the word that a donation to the Visiting Artist Fund given at the May 26 Cornish Encore event or online via Indiegogo will be matched, so a $10 gift means $20 for the Fund; a $500 contribution means $1,000 for students to work with acclaimed professional artists.

Your matched support would help bring choreographers like Kyle Abraham, Danielle Agami, and Sidra Bell to Seattle to make new works on our dancers and to give Seattle audiences more opportunities to see cutting edge dance from around the country. Help art and design students work with international leaders in their fields, such as David Bolinsky, Oliver Herring, Pablo Helguera, and Pae White, among others. Help  us continue to bring artists like Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Noise-Fold, Kneebody, and DJ Spooky to Seattle to work with our music students and to give Seattle audiences more opportunities to see cutting edge music from around the country.  Enable departments like Performance Production to bring back our acclaimed alumni for master classes and career counseling. Your matched support will allow us to continue bringing in wonderful guest artists such as playwright Octavio Solis, award-winning performers Ben Vereen, Chuck Cooper and Stephanie J. Block, and master clown Bill Irwin to work with our theater students. 

Already scheduled are Film+Media guests such as Stephen Tobolowsky, the actor, author and monologuist of the beloved The Tobolowsky Files, who will come to campus in September; and Christine Vachon, and Christine Vachon, Oscar-nominated film producer ("Carol," "Far From Heaven," "Boys Don't Cry") will arrive on campus in the spring of 2017.

Any individual donation from $10 to $500 given to the Cornish Encore Visiting Artists Fund between now and May 31, 2016 will be matched up to $35,000 total! 100% of any gift will go directly to support the Cornish Encore Visiting Artists Fund. Give to one program or give to all seven:

Give Online Via Indigogo








Commencement 2016 Welcome: Be Thoroughly Outrageous

Delivered May 14, 2016
Commencement 2016 Welcome by President Nancy J Uscher, PhD.

This is a momentous day for our graduating class and their friends and family! Cornish College of the Arts welcomes all of you here today. Our college Trustees, faculty, staff and administration are with us to celebrate with you and your loved ones. You have already met our Chair of the Board, Dr. Linda Brown. Linda, thank you for all that you and the Trustees do for Cornish. On stage are also the leaders of the college – including Cabinet and Chairs – thank you, dear colleagues, for your service to our community. The Faculty have mentored our graduates through an intense learning and growth process. Let’s thank the Faculty for their deep and abiding commitment to the students. Graduates, we well know that these relationships with your mentors are life-long, as we hope will be your relationship with Cornish College of the Arts.

Part of the ritual of graduation is to honor important artists who share our Cornish values and who inspire us with their stories and their lives.

Clarence Acox Jr., Pete Docter, Pae White, Emily Chisholm, and Catherine Harris-White  –  we are thrilled to have you all with us today! The inventiveness and imagination in your work has been stunning, powerful and influential.  Each of you – our Honorary Doctorate degree recipients and our Distinguished Alumni – has had tremendous impact in advancing knowledge and encouraging young artists.

The class of 2016 is unusually gifted with the capacity to work extremely hard. Graduates, you have created art practices of profound resonance in addressing some of the most challenging aspects of contemporary life.

•Leah Webster wrote the musical YOU: and Other Things That Shouldn’t Matter But Do, in which she explored critical 21st century identity issues of college students.
•Maya Burton, Lexi Chipman, Rafael Molina and Sherif Amin -- all members of the class of 2016 --created Raisins in a Glass of Milk, so beautifully performed by our students, which dealt with issues of race and the human experience.
•Diego Suarez – in your work Like a Surgeon, you used collage to re-imagine conceptions of identity, body and image itself, to underscore the visceral beauty of fracturing.
•Through photography installation that included melting ice, Vanessa Alcaraz focused on how climate change is affecting the Polar regions of the planet.
•Sculptor, photographer, videographer, multi-media artist, Janice Kwan Ngan  explored the challenges inherent to identifying as a person navigating the dichotomous nature of bi-cultural perspective.
•Through figurative painting, Ana Dueñas recognized the powerful Latina women in her life.
•Vanessa Margarita Blea embraced motion design with a focus on the empowerment of girls and women.
•Bryanna Jones’s film Engage deals with the importance of relationships within the context of a fully engaged life.
Rise by Erik Hall, in the mixed reality HoloLens exhibition, aims to find solutions for people living in the impoverished coastal slums of Bangladesh, in the face of almost constant flooding.
•Designer Elizabeth Holmes created ‘Dala Apparel,’ which deals with environmental and sustainability issues in fashion.
•Juju Kasangi through her interdisciplinary approach to Dance and Art, explored the human experience.
•Amelia Coulter, trombonist, who you will be hearing play today, has courageously pushed boundaries with her music to confront gender identity and liberation politics.
•And finally Performance Production senior, Lauren Williams, recently back from her semester-abroad in Glasgow, Scotland, will be at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and then the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in these next months, building scenery and breaking the glass ceiling for this aspect of her profession.

These projects are but a small representation of the many meaningful endeavors I have seen this year and that are, in fact, a testament to a new intensely vital generation of thought leaders for the 21st century. My long-standing belief is that art can change the world, and you, graduates, have deepened my sense of the momentum and urgency with which you are taking your roles in society.  The most important learning I have taken away from your collective work is that possibility is abundant, and that openness to possibility, ignited by imagination, creates original works that defy boundaries.  Adam Grant says in his new book about original thinking that, "It's not just that a certain kind of original person seeks out exposure to the arts. The arts also serve in turn as a powerful source of creative insight."

A recent example of the arts as a catalyst for creative insight is in the form of an improbable rap musical based on the life of an immigrant from the West Indies who went on to become the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury.  Who knew that this idea could even work, let alone become a successful Pulitzer prize-winning musical that has captured such interest across generations?! But Hamilton is just that – an unlikely idea born of Lin Manuel Miranda’s imagination. Graduates – using this example as context, continue to think about the unlikely, the kooky, the edgy, even the bizarrely different.  Do not be distracted by skeptics who cannot yet see what you see! That seeing what others do not is, in fact, the essence of being an artist.  I am in awe of the contributions the class of 2016 is destined to make year after year, creation after creation, dream after dream. Without a doubt there will be struggles and bumps in the road. 

Remember to RESPECT the importance of all that does not go your way – because it is only a matter of time when it will be YOUR time, with a success under your belt, followed by the next obstacle, the next idea, the next epiphany, the next disappointment, the next moment of pride. And so it goes in the continuum of life.

So when poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with this one, wild and precious life?…” My answer is this,  ‘…just about anything you want to do!’

Discover what has not been discovered before! Think of ways to do the impossible!

Be thoroughly outrageous!

Remember to celebrate, throughout your lives, the freshness and adventure of our ever-changing world!

The noted educational leader, John Dewey, who had a direct influence on the philosophy of the early Cornish School, said, “Education is not preparation for life – education is life.”  Therefore, Graduates, I will not say good luck for the future, because the future is NOW, and you are already on exciting pathways which you began years ago at Cornish. So pause here briefly today to accept your College’s recognition and congratulations – then go out and continue your journeys as remarkable artists-citizens. We are so proud!

Thank you very much!

BFA EXPO 16, Microsoft HoloLens Exhibit, Thrill Viewers

​EXPO 16: Art & Design Exhibition of BFA students in the visual arts at Cornish was, as usual, a hit with the public. This year, the opening was enhanced by the addition of "Through the HoloLens," a special preview of student work created in collaboration with Microsoft. Students in art, design, theater, and dance worked with Microsoft personnel to create works for the company’s upcoming 3D holographic headset, HoloLens. EXPO 16 will run through May 15 in the Centennial Lab (art) and the Beebe Building (design), Wednesday through Sunday, 1:00 - 6:00 p.m.

This year’s art and design exhibitions featured the work of 24 Art seniors in Centennial Lab and 44 Design seniors in Beebe. Samples of their work as well as their bios and artist statements can be found online too. The Art exhibition represented a dynamic realization of Cornish's interdisciplinary art program. The seniors ambitiously explored a breadth of media strategies with works that incorporated digital media, installation, painting, performance, photography, print, sculpture, video, and writing. 

"When making the Deconstruction Gallery I was looking for a way to bridge video games and fine art," wrote senior Harold Armand Cochran III, whose work included a built-from-scratch arcade game and 3D prints using photogrammetry to create Mars rocks and other interstellar objects. "I seek to get humanity as excited about traveling to the stars as I am. For people to see the beautiful potential in the spheres of rock that orbit distant stars would bring hope. I love technology for its enabling of humanity to overcome the bounds of our primitive existence."

Taylor Hollowell's humorous, observational ink drawings demonstrated her "observations of daily life and reactions to being surrounded by popular culture. The ludicrousness of daily life is pointed out like a quick joke among friends," she wrote. "The frequent use of words mimics the omnipresence of text in our lives. These works recreate that immersion in ways that are both comical and sincere."

In 2015, Diego Suarez was selected to participate in the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design’s (AICAD) New York Studio Residency Program where he started to use his painting and photographic background to explore collage work. His Like A Surgeon is an exhibit that investigates collage as an act of simultaneously revealing and concealing.

The Design exhibition showcased work in interior architecture, print, UX design, and video. Many of the Design seniors focused on the future solutions to current societal problems, demonstrated the Cornish tradition of being "artist, innovator, and citizen."

Erik Hall's Rise: An Adaptable Living Unit is a project that aims to find solutions for people living in impoverished coastal slums of Bangladesh, India. "The area faces constant flooding, and monsoons and Rise seeks to develop a system that adapts to the flux of water levels and keeps its inhabitants safe and dry," explained Hall. Fellow senior Weylin Brown showed how a typical suburban home could be retrofitted to provide its own food, water, and energy. "This would allow neighborhoods to modify organically based on the needs of the people and give people the opportunity to let their investment work for them," said Brown.

Majesta Vestal loves illustration and, while at Cornish, began exploring motion design and VR/AR. Her Strange World began as a picture book "but upon further research it became clear that the narrative would be effective in a variety of formats," she said. Her creations for EXPO 16 included a storybook, an augmented reality pop-up book, and an animation for the Microsoft HoloLens.


Through The HoloLens

In 2015, Microsoft asked colleges and universities to demonstrate the role and possible applications for holographic computing in society. Additional goals were to stimulate and advance academic research in mixed reality and encourage applications of holograms for novel purposes. The Design department’s proposal of using holographic technology in visual and performing arts education led to working with Microsoft HoloLens to create a mixed reality exhibit. Original creative work by Cornish students from Dance, Design, and Theater were recorded on a 360 degree soundstage and then rendered as holographic videos. Additionally, student animations and motion designs were produced specifically for viewing on the HoloLens device. Lines extended out the door for both days of viewing, with both those interested in the latest technology and those intrigued by the artistic possibilities waiting patiently to experience the work.

While the exhibit is now closed, the seniors who participated in the project are continuing to discuss how this will influence their future work. Once dancer noted that such filming allowed her to see her body from all angles, which opens up new possibilities in both learning and creating work.

2000 Terry Avenue, Seattle

2014 9th Avenue Seattle

Exhibition Hours 

Wednesday - Sunday 1:00 - 6:00 PM

Expo 16 Includes Special Microsoft HoloLens Exhibit

Filling galleries in multiple buildings at Cornish College of the Arts’ downtown Seattle campus, Expo 16 is an expansive exhibition of work from graduating seniors in Cornish’s visual arts programs. An exciting new addition to the program this year is Through The HoloLens, a mixed reality exhibit which features original creative work by Cornish students from the Dance, Design, and Theater departments. For Through The HoloLens, student performances were recorded on a 360° soundstage and then rendered as holographic videos produced specifically for viewing on the Microsoft HoloLens. Additional student animations and motion designs created for the HoloLens also will be on view. Through the HoloLens was made possible through a special grant from Microsoft. The Through the HoloLens installation at the Notion Building will be on view April 28 and 29 only. 

Microsoft HoloLens is the world’s first fully untethered, self-contained holographic computer running Windows 10. Gaze, gesture, and voice together allows for interaction with the digital content and communication with the HoloLens device.

“For the last year, our visual arts departments have been participating in a number of partnerships with major science and technology companies,” said President Nancy Uscher. “Microsoft has been incredibly generous in giving our students access to HoloLens. It is exhilarating to see the work produced by this partnership at the Expo.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Cornish College of the Arts, supporting students using holograms and Microsoft HoloLens as a completely new medium for creative expression. We are looking forward to continuing to see how artists will leverage holographic technology in ways we haven’t even imagined yet,” said Lorraine Bardeen, General Manager, Windows and Microsoft HoloLens Experiences at Microsoft Corp.

Expo 16 opens to the public on April 29. An “industry night” for the Northwest art community will be held April 28 and is by invitation only. The work of Cornish seniors work can be seen at Beebe Building (Design), Centennial Lab (Art), and Notion Building (Through The HoloLens special exhibit) in Cornish’s South Lake Union campus. As is typical at Cornish, the show is highly diverse. The art and design work in the exhibition ranges from traditional drawings, paintings, and photography to durational installations, video games, and performance pieces. 

The public art walk and reception on April 29 will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The exhibits at Beebe Building and Centennial Lab will remain open through May 15.

April Is The Busiest Month

At the end of its Spring semester, Cornish students prepare and present many exhibitions and performances which take place at the college’s venues on Capitol Hill, in South Lake Union, and at the Seattle Center as well as the surrounding city. In addition to Expo 16, the final week of April includes O!Fest and The Winter’s Tale at the Cornish Playhouse’s Alhadeff Studio at the Seattle Center. These Theater department shows include free Shakespeare, original works, and Cornish’s famous Clown Show from April 21 through 30. Also that week are Cornish Dance Theater Spring 2016 Concert at the Cornish Playhouse, April 22 and 23; Spaces of Exception at Occidental Square, a site-specific installation created by the college’s sophomore students by invitation of the Downtown Seattle Association; Varied Perspectives, the Foundations (freshmen year) gallery show in the Main Campus Center first floor gallery; The Silver Fox, a modern opera presented at PONCHO at Kerry Hall on April 25; and Scores of Sound, a three-day student music festival at PONCHO at Kerry Hall from April 26 to April 29. A complete list of all events happening at Cornish is available at The majority of these events are free or pay-what-you-will.

April Brings Shakespeare, Clowns, and Original Works To Alhadeff

In April, Cornish presents Shakespeare, clowns, and original works in rotation at the Cornish Playhouse’s Alhadeff Studio at the Seattle Center. Cornish graduate John Farrage ‘90 directs a bohemian glam version of The  Winter's Tale featuring an original score by music composition major Carly Ann Worden '16. 

Cornish Junior Original Works students will have spent the year creating their red-nosed clown personas and a variety of comic lazzi. Curated by faculty member David Taft, The Clown Show has launched some notable careers, such as Lady Rizzo and Jinkx Monsoon. 

A collection of short theater works written, directed and performed by third-year students in the Original Works program, the 10 Minute Play Festival is curated by local director and faculty member Kathleen Collins and playwright Elizabeth Heffron.

All the shows are pay-what-you-can or free, but reservations can be made through the "ticket" button on the Cornish calendar.

Chiang Wins Vilcek Prize For Creative Promise

​ Her mother and father brought Desdemona Chiang to the New World from Taiwan when she was just a toddler, and like many immigrant parents, charted a course for her in a solid pursuit, such as medicine. Their support guided Chiang to the prestigious flagship campus of the University of California at Berkeley. Having arrived as a freshman and seeking an easy “A,” she took a class in acting, and discovered yet another new world: the theater. Still holding on to her original dream, she earned degrees both in theater and molecular biology. In the end, the gravitational pull of theater was too great: Chiang chose graduate school at the University of Washington, earning an MFA in directing. From there, she embarked on a successful career in directing based in Seattle and teaching at Cornish.

​The restless energy of immigrants revealed by Chiang’s story is precisely the sort celebrated by the Vilcek Foundation. Last month, Desdemona Chiang was announced as a winner of their 2016 Creative Promise Award in Theatre. The prize winners each receive $100,000.


​"The Vilcek Foundation awards the Vilcek Prizes annually to immigrants who have made lasting contributions to American society through their extraordinary achievements in biomedical research and the arts and humanities,” reads the foundation’s site. “Two prizes are awarded, one in biomedical research and one in the arts and humanities, in a field designated by the Foundation. In 2016, the arts category is theatre.”


​Cornish audiences will remember Chiang’s work in such productions as She Kills Monsters and Anon(ymous). With her own company, Azeotrope, in collaboration with ACT in Seattle, she directed the innovative hit Sound by Don Nguyen in English and American Sign Language, a play which “explores the deeply divided opinions within the Deaf community on cochlear implants.” Also in Seattle, she has directed Constellations at the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Measure for Measure at Seattle Shakespeare Company. Chiang is currently at work preparing a production of The Winter’s Tale for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

Cornish Student Joins Alumni as Co-Host for Latina/o Theater Commons

Marco Voli '17 helping to host the Latina/o Theater Commons in association with HowlRound during a convening in Seattle this month. This national movement uses a commons-based approach to transform the narrative of the American theater, working to amplify the visibility of Latina/o performance making and to champion equity through advocacy, art making, convening, and scholarship.

This year’s convening in the Pacific Northwest begins on Friday at the Glenn Hughes Playhouse at the University of Washington with a session reflecting on the history of Latina/o theatre in the Pacific Northwest and celebrating the legacy of Maria Irene Fornés. Saturday and Sunday will be focused on growing the Latina/o theatre movement in the United States. Voli is looking forward to making connections with people from across the region. “I am currently the only active student involved with the Seattle Host Committee,” said Voli.

While Voli is the only student involved from the Cornish community, there are several alumni involved; Rose Cano '83, Christopher Goodson '95, Pilar O'Connell '12, and Victoria McNaughton '15 will be represented at the event.

“I'm not sure how much actual space there is left but there are volunteer opportunities for students at the event. It's cool to see how Latinos from the Cornish community play a role in this larger conversation,” said Voli. 

The 2016 Pacific Northwest Regional Convening takes place in Seattle from April 15 to 17.​

Matriarchy. Confinement. Foster Girls.

In partnership with ACTLab, eSe Teatro will present Bernies Apt. in May. This world premiere is an original work by Seattle playwright Rose Cano (Cornish '83). Inspired by Lorca's classic play The House of Bernarda Alba, six contemporary women find themselves confined—not by the strict codes of social conduct of the early 1900s, but instead by house arrest, physical ailments, trauma, cultural oppression, and a system stacked against them. They seek solace in creating a new kind of family.

Directed by Julie Beckman, the cast features Javonna Arriaga, Sophie Franco '15, Meme García, Pilar O'Connell '12, Yolanda Suarez, and Alma Villegas. With six Latinas onstage, four Latina/os backstage, eSe Teatro strives to provide professional opportunities to local Latino artists by offering unique stories that reflect the broad multicultural community found in the Northwest.

Bernies Apt. runs from May 5 to 28 at ACT’s The Bullitt Cabaret (700 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101). Tickets start at $20 and may be purchased online  or by phone or at the ACT Ticket Office. Available to ACTPass members for no additional charge.

Talking With Zootopia’s Kira Lehtomaki

"Zootopia's first bunny officer Judy Hopps finds herself face to face with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox in Zootopia." © Disney. All Rights Reserved. Inset: Kira Lehtomaki with (R, w/ bunny ears) Marciana Romero '17 . Photo: (inset) Marciana Romero.

Talking With Zootopia’s Kira Lehtomaki

by Marciana Romero '17

Recently I, a sophomore design student at Cornish, was given an amazing opportunity: to attend a special presentation on the animation in Disney’s new movie, Zootopia — as well as conduct an interview with Animation Supervisor Kira Lehtomaki. Kira Lehtomaki has a bit of a fairy tale story herself. At the age of five she was inspired by Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and knew she wanted to be a “draw-er” for them when she grew up. That was a dream she didn’t let go of her entire life, and it paid off. She now works alongside people she’s admired for years and has worked on Bolt, Tangled, Wreck-It-Ralph, Paperman, Frozen and now as an animation supervisor for the main character of Zootopia.

Two other student journalists and I stayed behind after the presentation and had a little round table with her, asking our questions one by one. I prepared a few questions for her focused on the path to becoming an animator, even asking a few fellow students I knew were interested in the career about questions they had individually regarding the animation industry.


Do you think there was anything unconventional you did or any part of your portfolio that helped you get to where you are?

Kira Lehtomaki: I do feel like having a well rounded education is really great. Doing that is very important because you get the idea of “I like animation” or “I like modeling” or “I like character design.” So you have an idea of what part of the pipeline you like to do, because there are so many jobs.

What are some of the biggest struggles that you’ve found yourself having to overcome to get to your place as an animation supervisor?

KL: When I got to Disney I came in as a trainee… and then I was a fix animator on Bolt … and that was a really great job because that developed my eye for animation. I was framing through professional animators work looking for all these little details. Honestly I could not see what was wrong with them at first, and slowly I started to be able to see that. So I did that, and then I was promoted to be an animator on Tangled, and again everybody in leadership doesn’t care if you’re a trainee or a veteran animator. They give everybody a chance. So they gave me these wonderful opportunities on Tangled and I got some really key scenes on that movie. Then my work on that got me really great scenes on Wreck-It Ralph and on Frozen, and then I was asked to be an animation supervisor. So I feel like had very much a fairy tale career at Disney. I have no complaints and… I mean the work is very hard and there’s a lot of hours that are put into it, but I didn’t feel like there was ever an obstacle to me becoming a supervisor. I felt like everybody was presenting me with the opportunities to succeed.


Before making it to Disney, Kira Lehtomaki spent time doing computer science, because that’s where the future of animation seemed like it was going at the time. That ended up being true, and even though it was a struggle, she felt it really helped her to know the technical side of things. One thing she really emphasized while I was talking to her is that not everybody’s path is going to be the same. She even told me that one of the head animators used to be a plumber. She said not to worry about not being the place you think you should be at this point in your life, because every experience you have will help you in your ability to be an animator. I followed these ideas with a question I thought might resonate with a lot of aspiring animators.


A lot of aspiring animators feel discouraged about how competitive the industry is, what’s some advice you’d give to people who felt like maybe that was out of reach for them?

(As she listens to this questions, Kira sighs compassionately, nods, and whispers softly, “Yeah… yeah.”)

KL: I would say never give up and never stop learning. The animation industry is competitive but if you truly love what you do, and you’re willing to put in the time and the effort, I do strongly believe that you will get a break. . . A lot of times we seek potential in people. A lot of times we’re in reviews for people that are applying to be trainees and we don’t always pick the people that have the most polished animation or the most beautiful work. Sometimes it’s the people who technically have areas to grow, but you see that entertainment. The most important thing, especially for being an animator, is that you want to know what the character is thinking and you want to have that entertainment value… so I would just say if you’re feeling like you’re being bogged down by all these other people that have all these beautiful reels and whatever, think about what makes you special and what kind of unique quality can you bring to your work, and sort of emphasize that in whatever portfolio or demo reel you have. Because the likelihood is that people will notice that and they will see that spark in it, and that is what will get you the job.

“Never give up and never stop learning. The animation industry is competitive, but if you truly love what you do and you’re willing to put in the time and effort, I do strongly believe that you will get a break.” — Kira Lehtomaki, Animation Supervisor, Disney's Zootopia

Inside Interior Architecture: Drawing is Hard

​ By Carrie Gerstenberger '17

I am not a doodler. I have never been. I’m a list taker. The thought of taking a live drawing class using charcoal intimidated me to my core, as did learning to accurately depict objects in a 1-to-1 scale with pen. I didn’t want to embrace the ability, until I realized that in order to be an exceptional designer, drawing is an essential skill.

Through the Interior Architecture program, I had the opportunity to spend a day with a senior architect at a large firm downtown. The day was layered with meetings on topics ranging from innovative barn door designs to foot rail heights. Glancing around the room every designer was holding a pen, sketching as others spoke, allowing their lines to explain what words could not. My senior architect told me that hand-rendering is a dying art, but one, fortunately, that IA at Cornish focuses on for the entire three year program. Learning to capture the essentials and the character of an idea through personal sketches is how architecture and design lives.

At Cornish drawing as a staple. Every class I've taken includes an aspect of sketching. In Object Design we have weekly assignments that encourages quick sketches which translate big ideas through simple form. This exercise teaches us to notice nuances of everyday life and communicate what we see into easy-to-read visuals. Quick sketches and developed sketches are assigned in throughout the interior architecture program..

During portfolio reviews, I’ve gotten extremely positive feedback about my watercolors and illustrations. Although I don’t consider myself an artist, there is artistry in everyone. People speak differently and so do their hands. When I allowed myself to break the barrier of social stigma and fear, my drawings began to be the way I think. Now, I carry around a notebook filled with crisp, milky, paper so that when an idea comes into fruition, my mind has somewhere to record its dreams.

Photos by: Gabriel Dwisatria Junior: “I have always been interested in the application of biomimicry and the experimentation of materiality in both commercial and residential designs. My goal is to create an innovative built in environment that promotes contentment to a higher level through aesthetics and functionality.”

Terpsichore’s  Landing: A Cornish Tradition of Student Choreography

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

Terpsichore’s Landing: A Cornish Tradition of Student Choreography

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 then 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.

Today, Terpsichore’s Landing remains a standing tradition and still takes place at Kerry, but in the more larger PONCHO performance space. 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,” wrote one of 2015's producers, Abby Zimmerman, “a raw, surprising, first glimpse at choreographers and dancers we haven’t really seen yet.”

In 2015, Terpsichore’s Landing provided a gratifying array of aesthetic choices composed by an experientially diverse group of sophomores like Hannah McClean (for whom Terps was her second ever choreographic endeavor) to Laura Rodriguez (a returning student with 12 years of professional experience in choreography). 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 proves an atmospheric roller coaster for audiences and dancers alike.

A reprint to the article by Cornish dance student Miranda Chantelois '17. Chantelois performed in the 2015 Terpsichore’s Landing concert in the works of Allison Burke, Julia Kusanagi­, and Laura  Rodriguez.

2016 Terpsichore's Landing

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 3, at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 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.

Reservations available through Brown Paper Tickets

Tony Award Winner Ben Vereen To Give 2016 Commencement Address

Ben Vereen with Cornish senior Maya Burton in a master class given fall 2015. Photo: Mark Bocek.

Tony Award Winner Ben Vereen To Give 2016 Commencement Address

Cornish College of the Arts President Nancy J. Uscher announced today that Honorary Doctorate degrees will be awarded at this year’s Commencement to Broadway performer/activist Ben Vereen, visual artist Pae White, renowned jazz performer and educator Clarence Acox, and recent Oscar winner and Pixar director Pete Docter. In addition, this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award will go to actress Emily Chisholm '04 and the Distinguished Recent Alumni Award will go to Catherine Harris-White '08.

“These artists represent the very best of what it means to be an artist, citizen, and innovator,” said President Uscher. “I know that their work has been an inspiration for our students and I look forward to recognizing their many outstanding achievements at our 2016 Commencement.”

Tony Award winner Ben Vereen held a master class for Cornish musical theater students last fall while visiting Seattle to advocate for those who have suffered a serious brain injury. A Broadway legend, he also has appeared in numerous television series and movies. For his humanitarian efforts, Vereen has received the Community Mental Health Council’s 2004 Lifeline Celebration Achievement Award, Israel’s Cultural and Humanitarian Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, an Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and a Victory Award. He will address the Cornish Class of 2016 at the college’s commencement ceremonies on May 14 at McCaw Hall.

Vereen will be joined on stage by White, Acox, and Docter. Multi-media artist White frequently creates large-scale installations in a variety of media. Her work was most recently featured locally at the Henry Art Gallery, and the installation offered an opportunity for Cornish visual arts students to meet the artist. As director of jazz bands at Garfield High School since 1971, Acox has influenced generations of jazz artists, including many Cornish alumni and students, and has been recognized as one of the most influential musicians and educators living in Seattle. Acclaimed filmmaker Pete Docter has been nominated for eight Oscars for his work with Pixar Animation Studios, winning for Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015).

Also recognized at the 2016 Commencement will be Cornish alumni Emily Chisholm and Catherine Harris-White.Seattle actress Chisholm is a member of New Century Theatre Company, whose recent credits include the American premiere of Sugar Daddies directed by Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Bethany directed by John Langs, and Outside Mullingar directed by Wilson Milam. Chisholm has appeared with Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Seattle Public Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, and with Arena Stage in Washington D.C..  Chisholm was voted Best Actor of 2015 by Seattle Weekly and has been nominated for the Gregory Award and the Helen Hayes award. 

Harris-White is one-half of the  American R&B/hip hop duo THEESatisfaction and, as a musician, she is known as “SassyBlack.”  A popular writer on the DIY music movement, she independently released her EP “Personal Sunlight” in 2015 and her debut solo album “No More Lame Dates” will be released this May. Harris-White appears on the new HBO show Vinyl this year as Ruth Brown. THEESatisfaction also will perform with the Seattle Symphony in 2017 as part of Sonic Evolution 2.

Following the presentation of honorary degrees and awards, President Uscher will confer degrees on nearly 200 graduating seniors at this year's ceremony.

The Cornish Centennial Commencement will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. Cornish College of the Arts awards Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art, Dance, Design, Film+Media, Performance Production, and Theater, as well as a post-graduate Artist Diploma in Early Music.

Ed Littlefield, Jr., Cornish, and a Better World

Owls: you don’t notice them at first, but once Ed Littlefield, Jr., points one or two out during a day at his farm, you see them everywhere. A statue on top of a bookshelf bursting with volumes, a motif on stair rails and lamps, done in marquetry on the front of his pedal steel and the fingerboard of his harp guitar, and on and on. Understanding why Littlefield has this symbol everywhere actually tells you much about him and much about why he gives to Cornish year after year. ​

​“The owl is the symbol of Athena,” says Littlefield, by way of explanation. ​

This symbol of wisdom and learning — “the wise old owl” — he has taken as his own suggests Littlefield’s reverence for classical education, for scholarship, and for philosophical pursuits. To connect himself through the owl to the goddess Athena, though, moves our understanding to a higher level. For Athena, among her other attributes, is the special protector of the polis, of citizens gathered as a society. Athena Polias was worshipped as the patron deity of city life — and thus of civilization — throughout ancient Greece, not just in the city which bears her name, Athens. It is in this spirit that Ed Littlefield gives to a number of Seattle art institutions, among which Cornish is prominent, because “a great city should have them,” he says. ​

​Littlefield continues: “A great city should have an art school like Cornish.” His support of Seattle’s 100-year-old art school has been stunningly consistent, more than 30 years. Not only that, he sits on Cornish’s Board of Trustees. ​

His sense of duty was inherited from his family, which at one time owned vast tracts of land in the West and ran the Utah Construction Company, an outfit that built an astounding number of railroad bridges and tunnels in what was then the frontier. The company was the lead contractor many of the West’s landmarks. Utah Construction was lead contractor on the Hetch Hetchy Project and O'Shaughnessy Dam in the 1920s, whose dam and reservoir still provide San Francisco with its water. This was the last project where the company used mules and horses along with steam shovels. A decade later, Utah Construction was the lead contractor on the Hoover Dam. The results of this work was liberally spread around via philanthropy. His mother, Jeannik Méquet Littlefield, for example, was a major contributor to the San Francisco Opera, among other institutions. His father, Edmund W. Littlefield, famously said, “God let it be known that it is better to give than to receive, but a lot of people failed to get the message.” The prominence of his family has provided Littlefield with wherewithal and example. He has been able to devote his life to philanthropy, to ideas, to ideals, and especially, to music. ​

​It’s important to Littlefield that his chosen city, Seattle, should strive to be a great city. But for all his reverence for civic life and responsibility, Littlefield loves the country and prefers to live there. But it’s a balance thing, having the best of both worlds. Years back, he chose his ranch, some 40 scenic acres on the Stillaguamish River to be “just the right distance from the city,” about an hour’s drive north of Seattle. ​

The main house he shares with his wife, Laura, and a bounding brace of happy pooches is a log structure that hugs the wooded hillside as it descends toward the banks of the Stillaguamish. Coming through the door, the first thing that hits you is the warmth of a cozy, well lived-in space, kitchen right there, a family room chock full of books and musical instruments. There is no question a musician lives here. ​

​Littlefield has, in fact, played music professionally for most of his life: five years on the road with C&W band Lance Romance during the 1970s and then since 1986 with Marley’s Ghost, a folk-roots band. Many of the band’s tunes were recorded in his basement, where there is nicely appointed, compact studio. In keeping with his love of the West and things western, his music and that of the other guys in Marley’s Ghost revolves around preservation. “Marley’s Ghost is nothing less than a national treasure, the capable inheritors of the archetypal Americana blueprint drawn up by The Band,” writes The L.A. Weekly notes that the music trends old-time, but is never gets stale. “This West Coast group deftly dashes across decades of American music to create a sound that’s steeped in tradition but never bogged down by traditionalism.” Littlefield’s interest in preservation extends to having created a home for the American Music Heritage Foundation collection of over 600,000 recordings, housed in a non-descript building near the farm. ​

In addition to the 11 albums Marley’s Ghost has released since 1987, Littlefield has released two solo albums, Going to the West and My Western Home. He is very comfortable on piano and — yes — bagpipes. A multi-instrumentalist, he plays wonderfully on guitar, as well as on harp guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, and dobro. But he is an acknowledged master on that most angelic of instruments, the pedal steel guitar. ​

​The studio in the main house is now abandoned, slated for repurposing as a library. But the Littlefield Farm is not giving up the recording of music. Far from it. A ride down towards the river in an electric cart escorted by a scampering black lab named Sunny reveals the new studio next to a meadow complete with grazing cattle. The structure is, in a word, breathtaking. Founded on giant river rocks and constructed with heavy timbers, the studio is totally unexpected. It is here that we remember Athena’s owl once more, not only because owls are everywhere depicted in the fixtures, but because the goddess is also the protector of crafts. Littlefield’s interest in the handwork of craftspeople takes shape in this spectacular building. A master blacksmith has created all the spectacular railings, sconces, and lamps, objects of such grace and complexity it is hard to imagine they could have been produced by smithing. Inside are not one but two large halls with high, pegged, hammer beam ceilings and walls punctuated with gracefully arched windows. The main hall, which is the studio, has an enormous, modern control room behind a wall of glass with what seems like acres of knobs and dials. It is a live room for recording rather than an acoustically deadened one, an unusual and forward-thinking feature that stands a good chance of placing the studio on the map among the region’s top recording facilities — for this structure is meant to make money for the farm when everything is worked out. ​

All along the road that rings the farm, you pass people building things, many of them turn out to be musicians. Two carpenters, for example, working on one of the cabins that will house customers for the studio, are introduced as fiddlers. The farm manager spends time at the 9-foot Steinway in the studio. It’s all of a piece. The people, the natural beauty, the family, the dogs, the cattle: there is something of a “peaceable kingdom” vibe to the Littlefield Farm. It’s as though each of Littlefield’s thoughts, concerns, and aesthetic notions has found a physical expression in this happy place. ​

​The impression becomes stronger when Littlefield carts over to the farm next door he bought some years ago, an additional 50 acres. It is more of the same, but different. He has a great respect for traditional ways of farming, and it comes into full focus here. Littlefield cleared much of his land with a team of horses, and this farm is still worked with them. His handsome draft horses are there by the rail fence, curious about what’s going on with the people. When he acquired the property, he put an ad in the paper for someone willing to live on and take care of the place, and to work the field with a team of horses. You’d think it would take some time to fill that position. It did not. It’s emblematic of a hunger out there for a developing a new set of values that takes the best of the modern world and melds it with a respect for a traditional way of doing things. Littlefield is deeply concerned about farming practices in America, and there is an added air of experiment to this farm as an example of land management on a human scale. ​

Seated at last in a nest of sofas in the family room, it’s time to get deep into a conversation about Ed Littlefield’s world that is, appropriately, often interrupted by wriggling dogs vying for pets and scratches. Littlefield talks at length about the importance of the “educated artist,” and his hopes that Cornish will help its students on that path. Everything he’s talking about, everything in the development of this farm is about building a better world, and Ed’s pattern of philanthropy forms part of a cohesive whole. His involvement with Cornish is in the mix; how great it is to be a part of this vision. ​

​You think, this is wisdom, isn't it? This how thought makes its way to action in this world. Your eyes drift up to the top of the bookcase full to bursting with volumes. ​

And there’s Athena’s owl looking back at you. ​

Applications Now Being Accepted For 2016 Neddy Artist Awards

The call for applications for the Neddy Artist Awards, one of the largest unrestricted grants for Northwest artists, opened in March. All applications are due by April 17, 2016. Application guidelines and the link to the application form are available at Questions regarding the Neddy Artist Awards may be directed to Ellen Ito, program manager, at

The recipients of the 2015 Neddy Artist Awards are Matt Browning in Painting and Wynne Greenwood in Open Medium. Each artist received an unrestricted grant of $25,000. The other six finalists each received $1,500. The 2015 finalists in Painting are Paul Komada, Elise Richman, and Robert Yoder. Open Medium finalists are Leo Saul Berk, Mark Mitchell, and Rodrigo Valenzuela (see  video of the 2015 finalists).

The Neddy Artist Awards honor the legacy of Seattle painter and teacher Ned Behnke (1948-1989), the son of Robert and Sally Skinner 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 his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, Painting, from the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. He lived and worked in Seattle, where he taught art to hearing-impaired students at Cornish College of the Arts and other institutions.

During his life, Ned Behnke received many national arts awards including a major public art commission by the King County Arts Commission for the Seattle Hearing and Deafness Center. He exhibited his art widely and was represented by Foster/White Gallery in Seattle. 

The Neddy Artists Awards have been under the stewardship of Cornish College of the Arts since 2011.

Cornish Faculty Shows Coming In April

Two events on campus will feature the work of retired or retiring Cornish faculty this April.

The aptly named Play will be installed in the lobby of the Cornish Playhouse on April 12. "My art celebrates a sense of time, space and place that I find unique to the temporal nature of the stage. As a theatrical scenic designer and mixed media artist, I paint to evoke a setting that welcomes you, the viewer, to become the playwright and to enter with your imagination into a world of your own devising,” said retired performance production professor Karen Gjelsteen.  “In my art, I’m interested in  creating that same aura of expectancy that the audience experiences as the curtains open.  I often create for a square window around which I place a border, reminiscent of how the proscenium frames the stage.”

An opening night reception for Gjelsteen will be held on April  14 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Cornish Playhouse. Play will remain on display through May 27. The Theater and Performance Production Departments also are producing Singin’ in the Rain at the Playhouse from April 12 to April 16. The reception for Gjelsteen’s show is free but tickets are required to go to the musical afterward. Tickets for Singin’ in the Rain are available through Brown Paper Tickets.

Recently retired from teaching at Cornish, Gjelsteen was one of the founding faculty members of the BFA in Performance Production program. As full professor, she taught scenic design and mentored set designers, scenic painters, and props artisans. Also a professional theatrical scenic designer, Gjelsteen worked in regional and national theatres, designing some 140 productions. In 2007, she received the Gregory Falls Sustained Achievement  Award for her contributions to the Seattle theatre community.

In the Music department, on April 12, alumni, faculty, students, and friends will gather to celebrate long and dedicated teaching career of Janice Giteck with a concert of her music performed by long-time friends and former students. Performances and presentations will be made by long-time "Janice-collaborators" Paul Taub, Roger Nelson, Matt Kocmieroski, Laura DeLuca, Walter Gray, and many more.

Giteck taught composition for both Cornish College of the Arts  and Summer at Cornish. Her award-winning film scores include Emiko Omori's Rabbit in the Moon, Johnny Simon's Daddy and Pappa, Katie Jenning's Teachings of the Tree People, and three films by Pat Ferrero: Hopi, Songs of the Fourth World, Hearts and Hands, and Yield to Total Elation. Recent concert pieces include Ishi for the Seattle Chamber Players, She Who Dances Through the  Sky for a cappella choir, In a  Camel's Ear for nine flutes, Snow  Mandala and Tara's Love Will Melt the Sword for solo piano, and Where Can You Live Safely Then? In Surrender for string quartet. From 1998 to 2001, Giteck held a Meet The Composer residency. She has received numerous awards including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Seattle Arts Commission, the California Arts Council, the Lila Wallace Foundation, and the Djerassi Foundation, among others. Her concert music is available on the MODE, New Albion, Periplum and Innova labels. Giteck holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Music Composition from Mills College and an M.A. in Psychology from Antioch University.

Tickets for Cornish Presents: A Tribute to Janice Giteck are  available through Brown Paper Tickets. The concert takes place at PONCHO at Kerry Hall on April 12, 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  

Women’s History Month at Cornish Offers Diverse Fare

It’s hard to think of a place where it’s as natural and easy to celebrate Women’s History Month. After all, Cornish is a college founded by a woman, the extraordinary Nellie Cornish, who swam against the tide of her times, founding her school years before she could even vote. Throughout its history and right up to our own time, the College has been blessed with an amazing array of powerful, brilliant women in its student body and on its faculty and administration.

Moving around the Main Campus Center throughout the month will reveal images of some of these Cornish women on a series of posters commissioned by Cornish Playhouse Manager Liisa Spink as part of the College’s Inclusivity and Diversity Committee. This committee, led by Associate Provost Star Star Rush, also was responsible for all the activities of Black History Month. Featured on this month's posters are such modern leaders in the arts as alumnae recording artists Catherine Harris-White ’08 and Mary Lambert ’11, dance greats Martha Graham, Syvilla Fort ’40, Bonnie Bird ’27-30, Louise Soelberg ’26, and Dance Department founder Mary Ann Wells, sculpture program founder Ebba Rapp ’30s, Theater Department co-founder and marionette program founder Ellen Van Volkenburg, acting great Josephine Hutchinson ’19-21, and, of course, Nellie Cornish herself. They can be found as a collection outside the Library, where students are encouraged to add to the wall the names of women who have influenced them at Cornish.

Women's History Month Events sponsored by Cornish’s Inclusivity and Diversity Committee:

Brown Bag Lunch Chat
Women of Color in the Arts
March 9, 12 pm, MCC Board Room (7th floor)

Open Mic Night
You are invited to participate and or attend an Open Mic night at Cornish Commons celebrating Women's History Month.
To participate, please select a written work of your choice written by a woman from any period of time, period, or school of poetry, prose, or playwriting.
March 9, 7 pm, Commons Fireplace (1st floor)

Please join us for a reading of Tillie Olsen's classic story, I Stand Here Ironing, a tribute to the mothers and mother figures in our lives. Featuring Cornish Theater faculty members Kate Myre and Lisa Norman
March 11 12 pm, MCC 102

Brown Bag Lunch
Women in Performance Production
March 28, 12 pm, Cornish Playhouse

Sharon Nyree Williams presents
No Answers. Just Dreams
What happens when you actually commit to following your dreams? Sharon Nyree Williams will share poems and stories put to music that speaks of the victories and challenges she faced in pursuing her dreams. Sharon’s ultimate dream is to change the world one story at a time.
March 29, 12 pm, MCC 102 

Brown Bag Chat
Women in Arts Administration
March 23, 12 pm, MCC Board Room (7th floor)

Cornish Theater Offers A Wide Variety Of Shows In Spring

Cornish's spring theater shows fill the majority of the college's South Lake Union and Seattle Center venues for the next two months. Currently playing is the Winter New Works Festival. Upcoming spring shows include the popular O!Fest clowns and original works, famous musicals, and Shakespeare for good measure. The Cornish Theater Spring Season Ticket gives patrons access to all nine shows for one exceptionally low price and is available through Brown Paper Tickets. Ticket sales directly benefit the arts education of Cornish students by funding scholarships. 

Check the calendar for additional free shows being produced by seniors and other members of the Cornish theater department. Performance times and additional information for all shows is available on the calendar.

Cornish Spring Theater Season:

Winter New Works Festival | Must Close Feb. 27

Cornish Theaters annual Winter New Works Festival, is a series of readings of new plays by members of the senior class in the Theater/Original Works program. The writers collaborate on the development of their scripts with professional directors and dramaturgs and casts of Cornish Theaterstudents. Don't miss the final performances at the Alhadeff Studio at The Cornish Playhouse.

Good Kids by Naomi Iizuka, directed by Corey McDaniel| | April 8-17

Something happened to Chloe after that party last Saturday night. Something she says she can't remember. Something everybody is talking about. Set at a Midwestern high school, in a world of Facebook and Twitter, smart phones and YouTube, Good Kids explores a casual sexual encounter gone wrong and its very public aftermath. Who's telling the truth? Whose version of the story do you believe? And what does that say about you? At the Skinner Theater at Raisbeck Performance Hall.

Into The Woods Jr, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Hugh Hastings and Katherine Strohmaier | April 9-17

James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone's favorite storybook characters and bring them together for a timeless yet relevant piece and rare modern classic. At the Skinner Theater at Raisbeck Performance Hall.

A Generative Piece, created by members of the Sophomore Ensemble under the direction of Marc Kenison | April 10-17

Our annual theater without a net! The generative project will use the play Good Kids as a jumping-off point for a thematic investigation, but the methodology of the process and the shape of the eventual production will be developed by the ensemble and the director. Recommended for mature audiences only. At the Skinner Theater at Raisbeck Performance Hall.

Singin' In The Rain, screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed | April 12-16

The "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends Betty Comden and Adolph Green from their original award-winning screenplay. Each unforgettable scene, song, and dance is accounted for and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make Singin'In The Rain the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals. At The Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.

The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare, directed by John Farrage | April 22-May 1

The Winter's Tale is a continent-spanning tale of jealousy, betrayal and redemption, filled with some of Shakespeare's most memorable characters. At Alhadeff Studio at at The Cornish Playhouse. 

O!Fest 2016:

The Clown Show! | April 21-24

Cornish Junior Original Works students will have spent the year creating their red-nosed clown personas and a variety of lazzi. Come see what they have come up with in an evening of zany, touching and daring fun! Some coarse humor and frank sexuality. Recommended for 13 and up. At Alhadeff Studio at The Cornish Playhouse.

The 10 Minute Play Festival - Part 1 & Part 2 | April 28-May 1

A collection of short theater works written, directed and performed by third-year students in the Original Works program. Variety, ambition and striking new voices are guaranteed.  Recommended for mature audiences. NOTE: In order to see all the plays, you must attend both Part 1 and Part 2! At Alhadeff Studio at The Cornish Playhouse.

Kronos Quartet Residency Begins This Month

Kronos Quartet: John Sherba, Sunny Yang, Hank Dutt, David Harrington. Photo: Jay Blakesberg © .

Kronos Quartet Residency Begins This Month

Cornish students from all departments will have an opportunity to interact with the famed Kronos Quartet when they arrive on campus later this month. Discussions and demonstrations will occur in both the visual arts and performing arts departments. While many such residencies focus on one particular discipline, such as music, this residency was structured so the entire Cornish community would have a chance to interact with the artists and be inspired, said Dr. Nancy J. Uscher, President. “We plan to have this be the beginning of a five-year residency program built along these lines.”

Please note that only the events noted as such are open to the public. Most of these events are restricted to students, faculty, and staff (as space allows). A complete schedule is listed below. Times and locations subject to change without notice.


OFFSITE: Saturday, Feb 20
5:00pm – 6:00 pm at Moore Theater
Kronos at the Moore Theater, presented by STG, for a project for Quartet and film. Dress rehearsal open to all Cornish students (all disciplines) or other music students on a first come, first serve basis. Sign up online. RSVP for music students to observe the sound check this Saturday is required. Please use this form:


Monday, Feb 22: Day One on campus at Cornish College of the Arts

10:00 am – 11:30 am, Main Gallery, MCC: Kronos + Visual Arts

Kronos Quartet will discuss its past collaborations with visual artists. This event is moderated by Dawn Gavin, Interim Chair of Visual Arts. Open to all members of the Cornish community.

Noon – 1:00 pm at Nellie’s Cafe: Lunch with interested students.

1:30 pm – 3:00 pm at PONCHO: ”What is David Listening to?”
Open to public and all members of the Cornish community. Kronos founder and Artistic Director David Harrington plays recordings from his extensive personal music collection. His choices are eclectic, with past playlist selections ranging from the sounds of Weddell seals in Antarctica to a Tuareg band from Timbuktu. Don’t miss this chance to gain insight into his creative process and the expansive world of sounds by which he is influenced!

3:00 pm – 4:20 pm at Kerry Hall, classroom 313: Composing for String Quartet;
Kronos Quartet discusses performance techniques; discusses successful compositional techniques in writing for strings; evaluates some student(s) preliminary sketches. This event is for Cornish students and seating is limited. This event is full and no more reservations can be taken by the Music Department. Please contact them about a waiting list if interested.


OFFSITE: 7:30 pm at Meany Theater at UW: Music of Today: Garth Knox, viola.

This concert is open to all Cornish students and community. Knox is one of the composers selected by Kronos for for the group's project Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire *NOTE - Free tickets are available at UW Meany Hall Box Office with Cornish ID. Kronos Quartet will not be performing.


OFFSITE: Tuesday, Feb 23

3:00 pm at Brechemin Auditorium at UW: Kronos Quartet Workshop
Open to the public. A reading of new works by violist Garth Knox and UW emeritus professor Ken Benshoof, commissioned by Kronos for the group's project Fifty for  the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. More information at UW Music website.


Wednesday, Feb 24: Day Two on campus at Cornish College of the Arts

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm at Cornish Commons: Conversation Q&A about careers; The Kronos Story – Past, Present, and Future.
Kronos Quartet discussion and cupcake reception; arranged with Student Affairs/Resident Life/Career Services, and moderated by Tom Baker. This event is for Cornish students and community only.

2:30pm – 4:30pm at Kerry Hall, classrooms 114, 119, 223 and 313: Individual Sessions
Meetings and lessons with individual Cornish students as scheduled by Music Department. This event is for Cornish students only.

7:00pm – 8:30pm at Notion 1: Kronos + Film
Open to public and all members of the Cornish community. Moderated discussion with the Kronos Quartet and Film+Media program leader Lyall Bush. A discussion with the Quartet about their experience working with film and media and how they approach scoring. Seating is limited and no late seating may be possible.

More On The Kronos Quartet 2016 Residency

The Kronos Quartet—David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello)—began their fearless exploration and re-imagining of the string quartet experience in 1970s Seattle. Since then, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 50 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world's most intriguing and accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 800 works and arrangements for string quartet.

Cornish became a legacy partner of Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association’s program, Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, in 2015. With a lead partner, Carnegie Hall, Kronos’ Fifty for the Future commissions 10 new works per year devoted to the most recent approaches to the string quartet and suitable for training of students and emerging professionals. The works are being commissioned from an eclectic group of composers, and the collection will represent the truly globe-spanning state of the art of the string quartet in the 21st century. By the end of the program, 50 new works will have been created.

Cornish College was one of the first institutions of higher education to take advantage of this exciting new initiative and is a legacy partner of the program. “We were delighted to be a partner in Kronos’ Fifty for the Future,” said Uscher. “Creating new music and new ways of teaching music is very much a part of Cornish's pioneering spirit and legacy.” In addition, Uscher wanted to create a residency that moved outside of the music classrooms and involved students from the visual arts as well as the performing arts.

On February 20, students will have an opportunity to attend a dress rehearsal of "Beyond Zero" at the Moore Theater. This new work matches archival film with a newly commissioned music to commemorate the start of World War I. By watchng the dress rehearsal, the students will learn how Kronos prepares for an mixed media concert. Later in the week, Cornish students can attend for free a related program of new and improvised music by internationally renowned violist Garth Knox at Meany Theatre.

On February 22 and 24, members of Kronos will work with students in the visual arts at the College’s South Lake Union campus as well as lead master classes with individual student composers in Cornish’s Kerry Hall on Capitol Hill. Lunchtime gatherings will allow students from all departments to meet and discuss careers in the arts with members of Kronos.  A special evening discussion of composing for film will take place on February 24 on campus and be open to the public. This discussion will be moderated by Lyall Bush, Cornish’s program leader for Film+Media.

According to Kronos’s  artistic director Harrington, the quartet’s relationship with Cornish goes back to their very first year. They performed at Cornish College of the Arts in 1973 and they have returned to campus many times since. Most recently, Kronos received honorary doctorates from Cornish in 2012 and headlined the 2013 Cornish gala.

See Kronos in Seattle

The Kronos Quartet performs “Beyond Zero” at the Moore Theatre on February 20, 8:00 pm. Tickets are $20 to $75 and available online at

“Beyond Zero” is a recently commissioned work created to commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of World War I. Longtime Kronos collaborator, Aleksandra Vrebalov, a Serbian composer and native of the former Yugoslovia (the site of WWI’s outbreak), brings new music composed specifically for the piece. Drawing on seldom-seen WWI footage from the Library of Congress, a film by Bill Morrison will be integrated in the “Beyond Zero” performance. This deeply moving works offers reflection and solace in the wake of one of modern history’s most profound events.

The public also is invited to a reading of new works by violist Garth Knox and UW emeritus professor Ken Benshoof, commissioned by Kronos for the group's project Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. This will take place February 23, 3:00 p.m., at Brechemin Auditorium at the University of Washington. For more information, see this calendar listing. This event is free.

The Kronos Quartet residency at Cornish College of the Arts is made possible through the generous support of The Boeing Company. 

Scholastic Awards Hosted by Cornish

​Cornish has, for the second year in a row, hosted the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards this past Sunday, February 14. Transformed with removable white display walls, the spacious lobby of the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center displayed the artwork of a select group of extremely talented young visual artists. An awards ceremony for the writers will take place in the near future. Inside the main auditorium, the best of the best were recognized, as Cornish Vice President of Enrollment Management Jonathan Lindsay handed out the coveted gold keys of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

The exhibition of the winning work installed in the lobby of the Cornish Playhouse and will remain in place through February 23. The exhibition will be open daily from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Cornish and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers celebrated 127 creative teens from across the state who received regional honors for their work. Five pieces were nominated for the American Visions award, 53 pieces were awarded Gold Keys, 88 pieces received Silver Keys and 144 received Honorable Mentions. Some students received multiple awards.

Cornish came into some praise for organizing the event. "I was one of the art teachers in attendance at the Scholastic Award Ceremony yesterday afternoon,” wrote an art educator from Tahoma High School. “What a class act event you and the other artists put together at Cornish. The students and parents were so honored by the recognition they received. Thank you for giving teen artists a chance to shine. It makes a big difference for students, teachers, and art departments."

Presented by the nonprofit group Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the country’s longest-running and most prestigious award and recognition program for creative students in grades 7-12. Across the country, nearly 320,000 works of art and writing were submitted to 100 affiliate partners.

The regional Gold Key works are automatically included in the national competition. National Gold Medalists are honored at a special awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York. National recipients are eligible for a wealth of additional opportunities such as inclusion in the Art.Write.Now.Tour traveling exhibition and The Best Teen Writing anthology. National Medalist poets are considered for the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s highest honor for young poets presenting original work.

All students who receive Scholastic Art & Writing Awards walk in the footsteps of notable Scholastic Awards alumni, including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Sylvia Plath and filmmaker Ken Burns, all of whom received Scholastic Awards when they were teens. More recently, Myla Goldberg, Richard Linklater, Zac Posen and Lena Dunham have become celebrated alumni of the program.

2016 B.F.A. Dance Concerts Showcase Cornish’s Emerging Dance Talent

Dance seniors helped create their poster, staging a photo shoot and then conferring with the designer. Photo: Winnifred Westergard (dancer photos), poster by John Engerman .

2016 B.F.A. Dance Concerts Showcase Cornish’s Emerging Dance Talent

The 2016 BFA Dance Concerts on February 20 and 27 showcase the choreography and performance work of the Dance Department’s Class of 2016.  Students have chosen either to choreograph for their peers in the Cornish Dance Department or to perform solos created by professional guest choreographers.  An eclectic array of dance styles and viewpoints will be represented at this event. "It has been a wonderful challenge creating a choreographic work of this length and density. I have spent a year conceiving and creating this project, and through that process I have gained valuable insights into my own choreographic strengths and challenges," said senior Abigail Zimmerman."I wanted to choreograph because this seemed like a fantastic opportunity to develop my choreographic voice while I still had the infrastructure and support that comes with being a student. My piece is an abstract representation of finding order within chaos. Sorting through the accumulated thoughts and ideas that sit like a pile of laundry in each person’s mind. Like the gears and mechanisms in a clock each idea has its place within the larger system which allows a device to function."

Zimmerman also enjoyed watching her fellow classmates develop their material. She noted that that each program showcases a "huge range of dance styles represented by the many virtuosic solo performances, which are complemented by the intricacies in the pieces of choreography for larger groups that are dispersed throughout each show."

"The rehearsals have been tantalising," added Dr. Victoria Watts, Chair of Dance.  "I'm excited to see these move to the Broadway Performance Hall, where the finished lighting, costumes, and stage design will augment what is already a very strong, and entertaining, show."

All performances are at the Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway in Seattle, and tickets are required for admission. Patrons are encouraged to pay-what-they-can to support dance scholarships.  Ticket reservations can be made at Brown Paper Tickets or by phone at 800.838.3006.

BFA Dance Concert - Program One

February 20, 2 and 8 p.m.

Featuring: Tala Baldwin, Laura Caputo, Dakota Crist, Scotty Flores, Thomas O’Neal, Alissa Pegram, Oralee Skeath, Tammy Wang

Guest choreographers:  Corrie Befort, Pat Hon, Vivian Little, Marlo Martin, Jason Ohlberg, Penny Saunders, and Mara Vinson

BFA Dance Concert - Program Two    

February 27, 2 and 8 p.m  

Featuring: Allison Burke, Jasper Lane, Drew Lewis, Dara Palmer, Faith Savage, Lindy Lou Smith, Marcella Sweeney, Tira Sweet, and Abigail Zimmerman

Guest choreographers: Kyle Abraham, Alice Gosti, Michael Kidd, Michele Miller, Paula Peters, Rochelle Rapaszky, and Kate Wallich.

The Three Yells: Her Name Is Isaac

The Three Yells: Her Name Is Isaac returns to Cornish this week. This multidisciplinary dance work draws attention to the treatment of women through a distinctly Asian lens. It also has a variety of Cornish connections. A current recipient of the Artist Trust GAP and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture smART Ventures grant, Three Yells artistic director Veronica Lee-Baik began her project in April 2015 and developed it further during a Cornish Playhouse's Arts Incubator Residency last year. Faculty members Robert Campbell, Meg Fox, and Brendan Hogan as well as student Fritz Rodriguez '16 all contributed to the finished piece playing February 11 and 12 at the Cornish Playhouse.

 As a visual artist whose medium of choice is the body, Lee-Baik collaborates with artists from different disciplines to engage audiences viscerally. Her company creates art as activism, education, and outreach.

Dance, music, and media co-exist in Her Name Is Isaac. As they move, the dancers control sound and light cues. Created as a modern-day warrior dance, “Her Name Is Isaac” is intended to spur conversation around gender and pay equity. This project includes outreach with Young-Women Empowered, a non-profit that helps at-risk young women in the greater Seattle area. A free community workshop was open to the public at Cornish College in January 2016. 

Following the performances this week, the audience is invited to talk-backs about gender and equity with the company in the Cornish Playhouse lobby.

StuART Kicks Off Cornish Presents’ Spring Season

Cornish College of the Arts’ visiting and resident artists series “Cornish Presents” opened its spring season with StuART Fest on February 6. Renowned trombonist Stuart Dempster honored his deep history with the college in a concert of his own compositions. Cornish faculty members Paul Taub, Tom Varner and Janice Giteck, trombone legend and retired Cornish faculty member Julian Priester, clarinetist William O. Smith, and Cornish students joined him on stage at PONCHO. Also featured that evening was the Cornish Creative Ensemble.

On February 11 and 12 at the Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center, The Three Yells will premiere “Her Name Is Isaac,” a multidisciplinary dance work that draws attention to the treatment of women through a distinctly Asian lens. A current recipient of the Artist Trust GAP and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture smART Ventures grant, artistic director/choreographer of The Three Yells Veronica Lee-Baik began this project in April 2015 and developed it further during Cornish Playhouse's Arts Incubator Residency with the collaborative genius of faculty members Robert Campbell,Meg Fox, and Brendan Hogan as well as current Cornish student Fritz Rodriguez '16.

Cornish Presents’ jazz concerts this spring include the renowned Ches Smith Trio on February 16 at 8:00 p.m., and Greg Ruby and The Rhythm Runners, March 24 at 8:00 p.m., at PONCHO. 

Cornish graduate Ruby began researching the music of Seattle resident and jazz pioneer Frank Waldron in 2014 while composing new music for his Prohibition-era dance band, The Rhythm Runners. Working with music writer Paul de Barros, author of Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle, Ruby researched and arranged three of Waldron's pieces for the Rhythm Runners and debuted them at Seattle’s Washington Hall. Since then he has continued to make Waldron's work accessible to current and future generations of professional musicians, music students, and historians.

On April 12, 8:00 pm, Cornish alumni, faculty, students, and friends will gather at PONCHO to celebrate the long and dedicated teaching career of Janice Giteck with a concert of her music performed by old friends and former students.

The Friction Quartet will appear at PONCHO on April 21 at 8:00 pm. Kevin Rogers and Otis Harriel, violins, Taija Warbelow, viola and Douglas Machiz, cello, are known for exhilarating performance of contemporary string quartets.

Tickets for Cornish Presents concerts range from $10 (students with ID) to $20 (general admission) and are available through Brown Paper Tickets. PONCHO at Kerry Hall is located at 710 East Roy Street. The Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center is located at 201 Mercer Street.

The Ches Smith Trio is presented with the support of Earshot Jazz.

Performance Production Senior Shelby Choo Receives USITT Award

Cornish senior Shelby Choo will attend the USITT 56th Annual Conference & Stage Expo in March as part of the USITT Gateway Program. Choo is one of a dozen students receiving support through the Gateway Program. As part of this program, she will receive with USITT membership, travel to the conference, and hotel accommodations.


Choo is excited  to have an opportunity to meet more industry professionals and to build a network of connections outside of Seattle.  "I'm also really looking forward to meeting my mentor (I haven't heard who it will be yet) and hearing any advice they might have for me as I prepare to start my career," she said.

The United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc. (USITT) was founded in 1960 as an organization to promote dialogue, research, and learning among practitioners of theater design and technology. Today it has grown to include members at all levels of their careers and has embraced the new technologies being used in entertainment.  USITT is now the leader in life-long learning opportunities for the entertainment design and technology industry.

In 2014, USITT launched the Gateway Program with three students who were paired with professionals from the industry. An additional commitment of $25,000 by the USITT Board of Directors was used to cover expenses and create the seed money for the sustainability of the program. In 2015 USITT expanded the mentorship program to 12 mentees from underrepresented populations to attend and be mentored at the USITT National Conference. Six of these were fully funded (travel, housing and conference) and six received partnered support between USITT and the school or organization who has nominated the candidate. Underrepresented populations include, but are not limited to: race, gender, sexual orientation/identity, or disability. This program will be continued at future conferences.

While at the conference, Choo will be partnered with an industry professional who will guide her through the conference experience. Choo was nominated by Performance Production Chair Denise Martel for the 2016 award.

Shelby will be attending the conference with members of Cornish's new USITT Student Chapter along with Denise Martel, Tom Harper, Interim Core Faculty in Technical Direction, Adjunct Faculty and alum Tristan Roberson ('13) and Playhouse Technical Director and alum Pinky Estell ('07)

For more about USITT, visit the USITT website

Midday Music Concerts Build Community At Cornish

Cornish music students in the balcony of PONCHO. . Photo: Mark Bocek.

Midday Music Concerts Build Community At Cornish

Each semester, the Music Department of Cornish College of the Arts hosts a variety of free concerts that benefit both Cornish students and the community. The Midday Concert  Series is a collection of hour-long afternoon concerts put on by a mix of students, faculty, and guest artists.   This series gives the performers the opportunity to showcase pieces they have been working on individually or as an ensemble and gain experience performing on stage in front of an audience. 

“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.  But it’s also a good chance for students from ADFM, Theater, Dance, and Performance Production to hear what their peers in music are working on outside their discipline,” according to Interim Music Chair Tom Baker. 

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 Spring Semester.  All concerts start at 12:30pm unless otherwise noted:

February 11 – Jazz VOX: Vocal jazz students under the direction of Johnaye Kendrick perform a variety of traditional jazz standards.

February 17 – Classical Instrumentalists and Vocalists: A split performance between classical instrumental and vocal students showcasing solo pieces.

February 18 – Chorus and Classical Vocalists (pt. II): A choir featuring music students and students from other disciplines share a concert with classical vocal students showcasing solo pieces. 

February 25 – Jazz Ensemble II & Jazz Ensemble IV: Tom Varner and Chuck Deardorf lead small combos performing jazz standards, as well as new student and faculty compositions. 

March 2  – Latin Ensemble & Improvisation: Music & Dance: An 8-piece ensemble led by Jovino Santos Neto performing a variety of Latin works.  Latin Ensemble features instrumentalists and
vocalists.  The Improvisation Ensemble features a variety of musicians and dancers performing semi-improvised, non-traditional works. 

March 3 – Classical Chamber Ensembles: A variety of classical chamber music performed by ensembles led by Paul Taub and Peter Mack. 

March 4 – Cornish Creative Ensemble: A large ensemble led by Tom Varner performing modern, non-traditional big-band “jazz”.

March 9 – Jazz Ensemble I & Jazz Ensemble III: Jazz combos lead by faculty members Jim Knapp and Randy Halberstadt perform a variety of traditional and modern works. 

 March 23 – Blues Ensemble & Vocal Jazz Ensemble: Wayne Horvitz leads a blues ensemble comprised of both instrumental and vocal students.  Kelly Ash leads her Vocal Jazz Ensemble, performing jazz pieces written, or re-worked for seven vocalists.  

March 30 – African Drumming Ensemble & Brazilian Rhythms: Faculty members Kofi Anang and Jovino Santos Neto lead ensembles performing traditional African and Brazilian instruments and rhythms. 

March 31 – Vocal Jazz Standards: Advanced vocal students under the direction of Johnaye Kendrick perform jazz standards in a small-combo setting.  

Cornish Mourns Teacher, Composer, Bern Herbolsheimer

"American Dreams" cover design by Modern Dog. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Cornish Mourns Teacher, Composer, Bern Herbolsheimer

​ A new recording with a number of Cornish connections, American Dreams, just came out a few months ago, and now a major contributor to the work has passed away, Bern Herbolsheimer. Though retired from Cornish, he stayed very much engaged: his pieces “Bontanes: Relleno Negro” and “Bontanes: Mucbil Pollo” appeared on the recording released on PARMA/Navona Records. A long-time member of the music faculty, Herbolsheimer, beautifully remembered by Melinda Bargreen in The Seattle Times, taught composition with a special emphasis on choral work. Some of his most popular work was chorale and art song. It is not surprising that his hefty artistic output included a number of operas, including his award-winning Aria Da Capo and recent works The Quartet and Gold and Silver.

​Professor Janice Gitek, who will be celebrated this spring with a retrospective, has special memories of the man she served on the faculty of composition with for over 30 years. “Bern and I for 20 of those years were next door to one another,” she says. “We shared a wall and could hear each other teaching and composing. Stylistically, we were very different, and it was refreshing to hear him work so hard and well in his way of writing. It was inspiring. He was very beloved as a teacher, supportive and clear-thinking.”

"Bern was a teacher who was fully committed, no compromises, and wonderfully inventive in his work with students," says Professor Paul Taub. "He did wonderful work with vocal music, but he also wrote very well for instruments. I commissioned several composers to write pieces for the flute in 1999 which became Oo-Ee, and he was one of them. His piece on that album, 'Ashik Dances Before His Love,' remains one of my very favorites."

​“Bern was a pillar of the Cornish Music Department for decades,” wrote voice faculty member Michael Delos, “and his contribution to the American — not just Seattle’s — musical scene has been awe inspiring. Gone too soon.” 

As reported in The Seattle Times, Herbolsheimer is survived by his partner Aidar Golev as well as his sister Tere Gidlof and niece Amy Haslund. There will be a musical memorial on February 7 at Town Hall.

The College Opens its Doors to the City with Spring at Cornish

Detail, poster designed for the Cornish Design Department, Robynne Raye © 2105 Modern Dog Design Co.. Photo: courtesy Cornish.

The College Opens its Doors to the City with Spring at Cornish

​Not everyone can immerse themselves in the high-energy, high-density life of a full-time Cornish student. Through its Prep Dance and summer programs, younger students have flocked to the College over the years. Until now, an adult learner not matriculated at the College could only experience Cornish through its many performances, exhibitions, and colloquia. But that’s started to change. With Spring at Cornish, the doors of Cornish will be swung open even wider to just about anyone who can find themselves in the courses offered. And if they do, they’ll find something special.

"What sets Cornish's extension opportunities apart is the level of expertise of our faculty,” says Alison Staplin Dean, Director of Extension Programs. “The faculty are seasoned arts educators who have extensive teaching experience in their fields, as well as being renowned practicing professionals and artists."

A good example of the kind of expertise Dr. Staplin is speaking of is Robynne Raye, who teaches in the Design Department at Cornish. Raye will be offering “Graphic Design: Layout and Composition” for Spring at Cornish. Raye is a well known graphic designer in Seattle, principal of Modern Dog Design and an internationally exhibited poster designer. Among the other notable professionals teach in the spring program are musician, composer, and songwriter BC Campbell,  who will be teaching digital recording, and artist Patrick LoCicero, who will be teaching a course on the integration of professional practices in painting and art theory. 

Extension students can expect a true Cornish experience at Spring at Cornish and indeed all through the year. Dr. Staplin and the Extension unit have carefully curated the spring and summer opportunities and the faculty to ensure that, according to Staplin, "all of the opportunities coincide with the level of excellence that individuals have come to expect from Cornish."

Cornish’s Impact on Visual and Performing Arts Explored

Detail, Mark Tobey, portrait of Ellen Van Volkenburg, c.1928, shown at Cascadia Art Museum, courtesy of Henry E. Cobb. Tobey was the founder of Cornish's Art Department in 1921. A noted tragic actress and theater producer, Van Volkenberg co-founded the Theater Department at Cornish in 1918 and founded its marionette department.. Photo: Courtesy of Cascadia Art Museum.

Cornish’s Impact on Visual and Performing Arts Explored

​Cornish's centennial year has just concluded at the College, but at Cascadia Art Museum, things are just warming up. Situated in Edmonds, Washington, Cascadia is the Northwest’s newest museum and the first dedicated to Northwest art from the late 19th century through the 1960s. For its second full-scale exhibition, it decided to create a tribute to Nellie Cornish and the school she founded. Titled Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Centennial Tribute to Nellie Cornish and Cornish College of the Arts, the exhibition opens January 14 and will be in place through May 1. Museum goers will discover a fascinating collection of rare painting, prints, sculptures, and photographs from Cornish's early years and make the acquaintance of the amazing people who brought the School renown

While some of the works come from the college’s collection, there are many surprises too, according to curator David Martin. Owner of Martin-Zambito Fine Art in Seattle, Martin drew on personal relationships as well as years of research to assemble a historical collection of rare ephemera as well as original works from noted artists who studied or taught at Cornish. It has been a Herculean effort on Martin's part. Many of the materials have not only never been displayed in a museum setting before, they had been scattered and largely forgotten. 

From the beginning of the 20th century to the end, this exhibition documents the Cornish influence on both the visual and performing arts on both a national and international level.

From the estate of Mary Ann Wells, who founded the Dance Department in 1916, comes photos of early dancers at Cornish. Among her pupils was Robert Joffery, who formed the Joffery Ballet and recruited many other Cornish dancers to the company. Other photos found by Martin or loaned from the college document several prominent modern dance instructors from that early period including Adolph Bohm, Michio Ito, and Martha Graham. Martin also was granted access to the estate of dancer Karen Irvin, who directed the dance department mid-century. He discovered a number of films made of Cornish Ballet. From the mid-1950s to the mid- 1960s, this group introduced generations of Seattle families to ballet. Irvin, her partner Mea Hartman, and artist Malcolm Roberts produced the dances along with stage sets, costumes, and posters. Recently digitized by the University of Washington’s Special Collections, these films will be projected on the walls during the run of the exhibition.

While most people know Mark Tobey for founding Cornish’s Art Department, the exhibition also has noted photographer Wayne Albee’s photos of Tobey performing in theater productions. Also in the show are Tobey’s nude contour drawings of students in Martha Graham’s classes at Cornish from the collection of the University of Washington. Artist Ebba Rapp’s large-scale oil paintings also demonstrate the crossover between departments. Her models include dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham '36-39 and African-American dancer Syvilla Fort '40. Both dancers also appeared in 3 Inventories of Casey Jones created by Dance Department director Bonnie Bird '27-30. The collaboration of Bird with Cunningham, Fort, and John Cage was featured in the Cornish magazine.

Other visual artists in the show include painters Louise Crow, James Edward Peck, and Frank. On loan from the U.S. Navy collection are two rare watercolors by WWII combat artist and Cornish faculty member Mitchell Jamison. 

Also included in the exhibition are puppets from the Cornish Theater Department. Cornish was the first school to offer puppetry as a performance art in the United States. From the late 1920s comes the work of student and later faculty member R. Bruce Iverarity. His original puppets, made from found objects, were used in a Surrealist science-fiction puppet production titled “Z-739.” These will be publicly displayed for the first time, along with two puppets by Helmi Juvonen. 

The show also includes work from 21st century Cornish alumna Aleah Chapin. Her painting Auntie won the distinguished BP Portrait Award in 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Chapin is the first American to be so honored.


Every Sunday in April, curator David Martin will lead a tour of the exhibition. Tours start at 1 pm at the Cascadia Museum. Tickets are available at the door.

Prof Timothy McCuen Piggee on “Golden, A Cabaret”

The cast of "Golden, A Cabaret". Photo: Michelle Smith Lewis.

Prof Timothy McCuen Piggee on “Golden, A Cabaret”

By Leah Erickson Webster

This week I spoke with Timothy McKuen Piggee, award-winning actor, director, and teacher, during a rehearsal for his newest work, a free night of theatre: Golden, a Cabaret. Timothy is a Gregory Award winner and a veteran of the Broadway stage. Timothy has described his career as “letting the work matter, and making sure there are always opportunities for myself and others to work. I aim to be ‘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 themes of thankfulness and gratitude are explored in this cabaret revue, featuring songs by Katy Perry, Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Blossom Dearie, Stevie Wonder, and others. The cabaret was conceived and directed by Piggee and Frances King with music direction by Katherine Strohmaier.

The students performing in the cabaret sat around us as we spoke, having a pizza party and finessing their interpretations of these classic songs. They have been working with Timothy in a class at Cornish all fall.

LEW: How is the process going?

TMP: It's revealing itself. When I first proposed this class I was collaborating with Greta Harley. She said she had a rule: no more than 16 songs. Then I started to collaborate with Frances Leah King and the musical theatre program grew, and now we are at 22 songs. But I have the same amount of time to pull it together! So it is a push to get it done. I think, pedagogically, we want to give them songs they'd have to sing professionally, but we want to give them one or two that push them out of the comfort zone so they have to work efficiently at things that are difficult. AND they have to do it quickly, which is great. We sometimes don't have have a lot of time in professional theatre, so this is good training! That’s how I see it anyway. 

LEW: How is it different from past projects?

TMP: We started the cabaret class in 2007 — maybe 2008? And I think I have directed every single one! Well, we were a month and a half into that first one when my mother died on Thanksgiving — Kathleen Collins took over, and I came and finished it off. Then in the winter of 2010, that was the year I was in New York on Broadway, when I was replaced by Rich Gray. Rick MacKenzie (Cornish’s on-staff technical director) has done every single one. Every show is built on the students in the class — Junior year, they sit back and watch the seniors do their cabaret, and then each group has their own distinct group and personality that they bring to their own cabaret senior year. This group is very kind, optimistic, and sweet to each other. So we made Golden. It's about appreciation, gratitude. That is a way of being in the world. There are songs about thankfulness, about falling in love, etc. Another difference this year is Katherine Strohmaier as music director — been great.

LEW: Why this play now?

TMP: I think the message is this — and we need to hear it right now — the wheels are coming off of the world. In our political discourse, people are willing to say anything, in blatant disregard for a whole group of people. But when is the last time you told somebody “thank you”? When we hear in the news about people being ripped away from each other, children getting shot — It’s so hard to stay positive. But then you see the Canadian prime minister welcoming in Syrian refugees. I sometimes think about this newscast I saw in the fall of 2012, Obama greeting each Sandy Hook victim's family. He spoke to them in a way that wasn’t demeaning or dismissive. He asked each of them questions about their child, and held them, and really connected to them. It’s the time of year, in the fall, when people get too stressed out. This is when we need connection. It's a time when we need to be sung to, human heart to human heart.

LEW: Why this play here at Cornish?

TMP: This group of people are really compassionate, generous, giving people. It's been so uplifting to watch them work and learn together these past . I wanted to do this show for them — it's all hot pink and orange everywhere, it's effervescent. I really hope the audience likes what we have created together. ​

Cornish Launches Its Own Version of Wild Kate

Wild Kate opens with the line:“Call me Isabel.” Then the audience is asked to board the Good Ship Empowerment and see Isabel's adventure through the eyes of a brainy teen with a chip on her shoulder who seeks escape. Isabel enrolls in High School on the High Seas and, along with her new pal Quinn and a rag-tag collection of classmates, find herself swept off course in an extracurricular payback mission led by the boat's strange and formidable captain, Wild Kate. As Captain Kate seeks revenge for her brother killed in the Deepwater Oil Rig disaster, her young crew are forced to consider whether saving the ocean is worth risking their lives.

Local playwright Karen 
Hartman has crafted a contemporary  adventure inspired by Melville’s Moby  Dick and the ocean disaster that shocked America in 2010. The play's Seattle premiere was the December production by Cornish’s Theater Department.


Interview with director Annie Lareau by Leah Erickson Webster '16

I interviewed director Annie Lareau during a rehearsal earlier this month. As we talked, I could hear some of the amazing music that the Juniors created to supplement the play’s script. They also were working on a physical swaying that they must maintain for nearly the whole show. they simulate the motion of the boat and stay completely in sync.

LW: Where are you in the process now?
AL: We are fine tuning the world. Tech is right around the
corner. We’ve doing as many runs as we can, seeing how the newly built rope set shifts and shapes us and the play. We are also finessing the music composed by Mathew Roed ‘11. He did my music for a production of Midsummer’s that I did his senior year at Cornish. He took some sea shanties and gave them a funky beat.

LW: How has this process been different than that of other shows you’ve directed?
AL: I wouldn’t say I’ve never done a process like this. I love
working with the students’ own creativity. So much comes organically for them. Then I fine tune it. Except for one song, there was no music in the script. We’ve created our own version of Wild Kate: A Tale of Revenge at Sea. It’s only been produced once before and its by Karen Hartman, a local playwright. She came to a rehearsal and she’ll be coming to opening night. I think it will be surprising to her. Hopefully in a good way!

LW: A question we like to ask at Cornish is why this play now?
At its core, this play is about activism: the good and the
bad of that. We are dealing with a lot of extremism in our world right now. It’s also an interesting look at how we see monsters in our world as opposed to 1851 when Moby Dick was written. What is our new great white whale? What are we trying to fix? To revenge? To capture? You see these kids get completely taken in by an act of revenge. Their innocence blinds them from the potential consequences of their passionate actions.

 LW: And more specifically, why this play then?
Well, it’s by a woman and there are a lot of great,
strong, female characters. Being a new work, the piece allows for generating devised work, also, which is important at Cornish. Cornish is all about training creative artists.


See also Leah Webster's interview with Desdemona Chiang here and her observations on Jungalbook rehearsals here.

Decking The Stages With Cornish Alumni

Hans Altwies ‘96 performs "Edelweiss" at the 5th.. Photo: T. Martin, used with permission of the theater..

Decking The Stages With Cornish Alumni

Holiday season means an explosion of shows throughout Seattle and nearby stages. As noted by Theater Chair Richard E.T. White, it’s tough to find a production that isn’t packed with Cornish alumni on both sides of the curtain.  Here’s a few places where you can find Cornish talent this month.

One of the oldest holiday traditions in Seattle, ACT Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol features alumni Jasmine Jean Sim ‘05, Conner Nedderson ‘10, and Sarah Harlett ‘93 this year. Faculty members Alyssa Keene ’00 and Chris DeStefano served as dialect coach and musical director, respectively, and the directing intern is Thomas Speltz ‘15.  It plays from now through December 30 downtown.

5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is a family favorite and will be playing through January 3. Hans Altwies ‘96 (below, left) stars as Captain Von Trapp, with faculty member Frances Leah King as Sister Margaretta. Nicholas Watson ‘15 is in the ensemble.

Seattle Children’s Theatre’s holiday production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang features Emily Cawley '10, Michael Feldman ‘13, Carole Lynn Castillo ‘15 and Richard Stone ‘16 in the company. It plays through December 27.

Seattle Public Theatre remounted its successful production of Christmastown, a seasonal noir comedy written by Wayne Rawley ’93. Faculty member Kelly Kitchens directs a cast that includes faculty member Rhonda J. Soikowski ’00 and alumna Pilar O’Connell ‘12.

Andrew Lee Creech ’13 plays George Bailey, Clarence the Angel, and all the other citizens of Bedford Falls in his one-man version of It’s A Wonderful Life at ArtsWest now through December 27.

Two different takes on A Charlie Brown Christmas are also on view this holiday season:  Strawberry Theatre Workshop presents jazz piano virtuoso Jose Gonzales ’89 and his Trio playing a concert version at The Cornish Playhouse on December 13. Across town, Taproot Theatre’s staged version features Ben Wippel ’13 and Chris Morson ’13 in the cast, and plays now through December 26.

Taproot Theatre’s other holiday show is the new family comedy This Christmas. It features Kevin Richard Bordi  ’13 in the cast, and plays through December 26.

Rachel Atkins’ adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma at Book-It Repertory Theatre, directed by faculty member Carol Roscoe, has been selling out with additional performances recently announced. Look for Sara Porkalob ’12 and Kylie Soder ‘14 in the cast.

SnowGlobed is an annual festival of ten-minute plays inspired by the holiday season and curated by Playing in Progress. This season’s writers include Kelleen Conway Blanchard ’96 (whose play Kittens in a Cage was a sold-out hit at Cornish this fall) and Pilar O’Connell ’12. Andrew Buffelen ’10 is in the cast. SnowGlobed plays at West of Lenin through December 19.

Closing this weekend is Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of Unwrapped, the holiday show that brought back cabaret superstars Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales (aka Jerick Hoffer  ‘10 and Richard Andriessen ‘10) to the Leo K. Theatre at the Seattle Center.

Ellen Forney, Master of the Intimate, goes BIG

​Of the public spaces in Seattle, the new light rail station on Capitol Hill is perhaps the most public; after all, the Hill is the cutting-edge art and lifestyle district of the city. Fully visible from the sidewalks surrounding the station will be two giant installations, flats of porcelain enamel on steel, depicting gestures, Crossed Pinkies and Walking Fingers. Surprisingly, they are the creations of a comic artist known for her small-scale work.

​​For a lot of people, when they think of Ellen Forney’s art, they think of little rectangles a couple of inches long and wide. The long-time Cornish faculty member set the bar for honesty and self-revelation in her drawn book Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me (Gotham/Penguin, 2012), a work that is in turns lacerating and hysterically funny. Though it documents her personal, Dantesque journey through manic depression and medication, there is nevertheless an unnerving universality about it. Everyone who reads it can feel the sting of realizing themselves in Forney’s wrong turns, self-flagellation, over-reactions, image crises, and all the other painful fissures in her world—and in her triumphs over adversity. Though Forney’s cartooned work in Marbles is most often small and squared-off on the page, from time-to-time the constraints seem all too much for the artist and the art bursts its seams and explodes, sometimes sprawling over the book’s gutter to consume a full spread. So it should come as no surprise that she seized an opportunity to scale her work up.

​Forney’s major commission from the City of Seattle is now being installed, and we have learned how far the scale of her artistic sensibilities can be expanded.

“My murals are up! WHAAT!” Forney wrote recently on her Facebook page. “Crossed Pinkies and Walking Fingers, my large-scale porcelain enamel on steel murals, are finally real-live things in the entryways of the Capitol Hill light rail station. I am happy and proud and very thankful to my team.”

Sound Transit surveyed the Capitol Hill community about the type of public art wanted and were told to look for authentic, contemporary art for their station - pieces that engaged the public in consideration of its meaning, that created a landmark for the station, and that fit well with the neighborhood architecture. Forney, a Capitol Hill resident, and artist Mike Ross were selected. On their website, Sound Transit noted "The clean graphic quality of Forney's work, in addition to the bold red color she has chosen, allows the mural to become beacons for the entrances to the underground station."

A project eight years in the making, her piece of public art began when Forney pitched a variety of ideas for the station. One idea everyone will be sorry did not come to pass was a giant worker-woman with a wrench whose stride would have spanned the walkway between tracks of the station. After Forney's designs were selected, there came the long wait as the station was constructed. Installation took place in the last month and the station opens in 2016. Eventually it is projected that more than 26,000 people a day will be walking past her installations.

​Forney teaches several courses at Cornish: two studio classes in the Design Department, "Comics: Essential Tools" and "Autobiographical Comics," and two in Humanities & Sciences, "Graphic Novels As Literature" and "Reading Graphic Memoir." She's also involved in Cornish's efforts to expand access through the Internet. “Cornish is developing online classes,” she says, “and I'll be continuing work developing my online comics studio class.”

President Uscher Announces She Will Leave In July 2016

Dr. Uscher on her way to the formal opening of Cornish Commons in August 2015. Photo: Mark Bocek.

President Uscher Announces She Will Leave In July 2016

President Nancy J. Uscher announced to faculty, staff, and students yesterday that she will leave her position when her contract ends on July 31, 2016. The Cornish Board of Trustees will conduct a formal nationwide search for a new president.

"I came to the College on a five-year contract, which strikes me as a good period of time," Dr. Uscher said. "Announcing this now will allow for an orderly transition." She added that she would reveal her future plans in due course.

"The board is grateful for Dr. Uscher's service to both Cornish and the Seattle community," said Cornish Board Chair Dr. Linda Brown. "We're looking forward to a robust search process that will identify new candidates to guide Cornish into its second century."

Dr. Uscher, a violist by training, is Cornish's first women president since its founder, Nellie Centennial Cornish, who started the school in 1914. Dr. Uscher came to Cornish in 2011 after serving as provost and co-acting president of the California Institute of the Arts. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University.

"It has been a true privilege for me to be at Cornish," Dr. Uscher said. "I am thrilled at the energy and talent embedded in the Cornish community, and how well our graduates are doing in the world. Cornish is on the cusp of big things as Seattle expands its presence on the world stage. The preservation of arts schools and the values they impart is so crucial."

On Dr. Uscher's watch, Cornish erected its first new building since 1921, the $50 million, 20-story Cornish Commons residence hall with classroom space on the main campus in the Denny Triangle section of downtown Seattle. The college also adopted a new visual arts curriculum, launched a film/media program, created a residency for the celebrated Kronos Quartet, began online courses, and stepped up fundraising.

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.

More information

​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. Laush 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 Laush. 

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 received 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 integration 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 conference 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 Exhibits 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. ​

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.