‘Late Night’ juxtaposes stories, music

This evening, art, music and fiction will be juxtaposed at Late Night at the Lehman Loeb. Under the backdrop of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center’s permanent collection, students from classes of Lecturer of Music Eduardo Navega, will be performing chamber music pieces, alternating with students from Professor of English Amitava Kumar’s Senior Composition class, who will read original prose.

This event, tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, is one of many under the larger umbrella of Modfest 2013. Begun in 2003, Modfest was founded by Vassar music graduate Adene Wilson with her husband, composer and Vassar professor of music Richard Wilson, with the goal of making connections amongst the many forms of art, particularly different contemporary arts, that exist on the Vassar campus. Modfest events are designed to shine light on different departments at the College and the interrelationships between music, dance, film, literature, poetry and visual arts in the present day.

“Each year we find that Modfest provides a special opportunity for students in each of the disciplines to share their work with one another,” said Adene Wilson. “A key reason we started Modfest was to highlight the enormous amount of arts activity on campus and provide a microcosm of what goes on year-round at Vassar.”

Ten Vassar student musicians are performing four chamber pieces: Philip Gates’ “String Quartet No 1 in A Minor”; Darius Milhaud’s “Pastorale”; Samuel Barber’s “Dover Beach,” based on the Matthew Arnold poem of the same name; and Richard Arnell’s “Cassation.”

Navega said, “I picked these pieces because they are varied and eclectic; they include string, voice, and winds.”

He also noted that the pieces pair well with the written word. “The event is a great opportunity for Vassar musicians to perform in the Loeb, a space with great acoustics, and for some amazing Vassar student writers to put their work out there,” he commented.

Mackenzie Cook ’13, Brian Muir ’13 and Rachel Chait ’13 will all be reading original works of fiction. They were selected to perform based on their enrollment in the English Department’s selective Senior Composition class.

Chait is reading a satirical family drama about a funeral; Cook is reading a piece called “Separate and Apart,” a sincere and intense depiction of a family from Maine; and Muir is reading a darkly comedic piece. All three pieces were written this past year in Senior Composition.Senior Composition is an intensive year-long class where senior student writers hone their craft. Cook noted, “The class focuses on writing as an immersive subject. All the other writing classes at Vassar are focused on learning about writing, whereas this class teaches us how to live the life of a writer.”

And a key element of being a writer is reading one’s work aloud in front of an audience or with an audience in mind. “Reading aloud really changes how you write. I have made a lot of edits in pieces based on the fact that I need my writing to make sense if it’s read aloud,” Cook said, and added, “To be a writer, it is beneficial to be adept at and willing to read your work aloud because it is so hard to succeed. Podcasts are huge, so [it] provides another medium for publicity and income.”

Muir said, “In Senior Composition, for me, writing has become a social act, a conversation. Engaging in dialogue with the other members of the class has broken down the idea of the lonely locked up writer, in the same way sharing my piece with an audience will.”

The event tonight will enable Muir and his peers to broaden their conversation, engaging their audience and fellow students whose chosen art form is music.

“It’s going to be one of the most unique events at Vassar; I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before. It’ll be real classy,” Cook said, adding “there may even be a spread.”

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